Unfortunately, Alan's piece starts with a frequently repeated statistic which is, in fact, not true: "One hundred thousand Christians will be massacred this year because of their beliefs," as Jim Shannon, the Democratic Unionist Party MP, told the House of Commons. It's a figure which has been bandied around a lot in the last few years. But it is straightforwardly inaccurate.

As the BBC's Ruth Alexander explains both in print and on the ever-splendid More or Less programme, which looks at numbers in the news and whether they're accurate or not, that 100,000 figure comes from the Centre for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Massachusetts. They estimated that around 1 million Christians "died as martyrs" between 2000 and 2010, divided that figure by 10, and gave that as the annual number of "Christians who die for their beliefs".

Alexander points out, though, that about 900,000 of those deaths were in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The CSGC believes that about one in five of the 4 million deaths in that country were martyrdoms, that is, dying for their beliefs.