CHVN | Libby Giesbrecht | May 1, 2020
The Christian Church is rallying to feed other religious groups in Pakistan as they are denied food aid due to COVID-19.
Many Christians themselves are struggling to provide food daily for themselves and their families, a difficult task made even more so due to COVID-19 social distancing and lockdown, Mission Network News reports.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recently released a statement addressing the lack of food aid being provided to Christians and Hindus in Pakistan.
The statement reports USCIRF is “troubled by the reports of food aid being denied to Hindus and Christians amid the spread of COVID-19 in Pakistan.”
USCIRF Commissioner Anurima Bhargava calls the actions “simply reprehensible.
“Food aid must not be denied because of one’s faith. We urge the Pakistani government to ensure that food aid from distributing organizations is shared equally with Hindus, Christians, and other religious minorities,” Bhargava says.
As COVID-19 continues to spread, more vulnerable communities within the country are struggling more to feed their families.
A Christian worker in Pakistan says it doesn’t appear as though the policies are official through any specific organizations. He says there are workers who distribute food based on religious beliefs.
“These are overly zealous workers that are telling people, ‘Oh, you need to recite the Muslim creed’ … ‘we’re not going to give you food unless you become a Muslim.'”
The worker says this kind of discrimination is common in the country. According to the five Pillars of Islam, all Muslims must give a small percentage of what they have to the poor. But this can lead to those who are Muslim helping others with like beliefs rather than Christians or other religious minorities.
The Church in Pakistan relies, instead, on funding from Christians in other countries. But COVID-19 is impacting countries around the world, meaning other countries may not have enough to continue supporting the church during the global pandemic.
“The Pakistani Church is digging really deep into its own resources and really stepping up to the plate, identifying individual families within each church,” the worker says.
Generosity from local believers has increased as a result.
“People within the church are giving just hugely, generously, and entire month’s salary or two months’ salary, to help feed their brothers and sisters in Christ.”