COMMUNICATIONS NEWS: Amnesty targets churchgoers

CLAIRE SAMES

Churches of all denominations in the UK will receive a letter from Terry Waite this Christmas as part of Amnesty International's festive activity.

Waite's letter is included as part of Christmas packs that are being mailed to 17,000 churches to encourage the congregation to send messages of hope to prisoners of conscience.

Messages can be sent on either Christmas cards or non-religious cards but must not contain any references to Amnesty as an orchestrated campaign is likely to have less impact on governments.

The pack features details of four prisoners who have been locked up for their peacefully held views, including Amina Lawal from Nigeria, who has been sentenced to death by stoning for having a child out of wedlock.

Amnesty wants people to put pressure on each country's authorities to help release the prisoners.

The pack incorporates a special prayer for priests to include in their sermons that has been written by John Barraclough, campaigns manager at Catalyst, a communications and marketing agency for the voluntary sector.

Posters will be displayed on church notice boards to inform churchgoers about the campaign and a cut-out candle has been produced for children to colour in and pin to the church's Christmas tree.

The congregation will also be asked to light a candle and say a prayer for a prisoner, as well as be encouraged to donate money through church collections.

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