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PARISH NOTICEBOARD — 4 Christians persecuted in nine Commonwealth countries <strong>The</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> <strong>Magazine</strong> - <strong>June</strong> <strong>2023</strong> 13 THE persecuted church by colin bailey Commonwealth States flags line <strong>The</strong> Mall for the Coronation At the time of writing, the weekend of the Coronation of King Charles III, it is interesting to consider the position of the Commonwealth countries regarding monarchy. <strong>The</strong>re are 15 Commonwealth countries where the monarch is head of state: the UK, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, <strong>The</strong> Bahamas and Tuvalu. A recent poll by Lord Ashcroft, former Conservative Party chairman, involved interviewing 22,000 people in all Commonwealth countries, and of the 15 nations mentioned above, six voted in favour of replacing the monarchy (Australia, Canada, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Solomon Islands and Antigua and Barbuda). VOLUNTARY <strong>The</strong> Commonwealth of Nations is a voluntary association of 56 independent and equal countries in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific. It is home to 2.5 billion people, one-third of the world’s population. Most member countries have historic ties to Britain. Many former colonies are still part of the Commonwealth. Barbados was the most recent to establish its own head of state. It has been an independent nation since 1966 and abolished the monarchy at the end of November 2021. Any country can join the Commonwealth: the last to do so were Gabon and Togo in 2022. Going back to 1949, the Commonwealth consisted of eight countries, each having King George VI as monarch. When India wished to become a republic but did not want to leave the Commonwealth, the title Head of the Commonwealth was created. This is a ceremonial role with no constitutional relevance to any of the Commonwealth’s member states. <strong>The</strong> position is not however hereditary and successors are chosen by the Commonwealth heads of government. Notwithstanding this, letters patent issued by the late Queen in 1958 and King Charles in 2022 state that the Prince of Wales and his heirs and successors shall be future heads of the Commonwealth. DANGEROUS A cross-referencing of the member nations of the Commonwealth to the Open Doors World Watch List of the 50 countries in which it is most dangerous to be a Christian shows that there are nine Commonwealth countries in the <strong>2023</strong> World Watch List. <strong>The</strong>y are listed below along with their ranking in this year’s World Watch List: Cameroon (#45), Mozambique (#32), Nigeria (#6), Bangladesh (#30), Brunei (#46), India (#11), Malaysia (#43), Maldives (#15), Pakistan (#7). Some of these countries and the situation therein of persecuted Christians have been featured in earlier editions of <strong>The</strong> <strong>Parish</strong> <strong>Magazine</strong> — Nigeria as recently as last month, Mozambique in January <strong>2023</strong>, India in October last year, and Pakistan in both March and May 2022. Dominic Dudley, dreamstime.com As for the others appearing in the World Watch List: Cameroon is officially a secular country but there are predominantly Muslim areas where Islamic extremism is growing. Boko Haram is violently active in the north of the country. Bangladesh has a population where just 0.5% turn to page 15 THE FULL LIST OF COUNTRIES WHO MAKE UP THE COMMONWEALTH AFRICA (21) Botswana, Cameroon, Gabon, <strong>The</strong> Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Kingdom of Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Togo, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia. ASIA (8) Bangladesh, Brunei, India, Malaysia, Maldives, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka. CARIBBEAN AND AMERICAS (13): Antigua and Barbuda, <strong>The</strong> Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago. EUROPE (3) Cyprus, Malta, United Kingdom. PACIFIC (11) Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.