The U.S. State Department is facing a legal deadline to come to a decision on whether or not the barbarism being perpetrated against Christians in the Middle East is, in fact, “genocide.” Such an official designation would be significant in that it could strengthen the case for the United States to act in defense of these victims.
Late last year, President Obama signed an omnibus government funding bill that included a provision requiring Secretary of State John Kerry to determine within 90 days whether or not ISIS is committing genocidal acts against Christians and other religious groups. With that March 17 deadline fast approaching, pressure is mounting for Secretary Kerry to affirm what to many seems obvious.
“Christians are being killed, brutalized, and forced into exile by Islamic State jihadists. Indeed, ISIS is intent on wiping away every trace of Christianity as it works to cement its caliphate,” said Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of NRB. “The Obama Administration must no longer delay in calling this what it is: genocide.”
Voices around the world are proclaiming the same. For example, Proclaim 16, the NRB International Christian Media Convention, held a special session on this genocide featuring Canon Andrew White, Vicar Emeritus of St. George's Church in Baghdad, who spoke from firsthand experience about the terrors of ISIS. “Our people have lost everything,” he said. Canon White’s organization, the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME), is now focused on aiding those who have fled into Northern Iraq and Jordan to escape the violence.
In addition, last year NRB highlighted a letter to Secretary Kerry by former Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA), US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Chairman Robert George, USCIRF Commissioner Katrina Lantos Swett, and others making the case for a genocide declaration. More letters and pronouncements have come from powerful voices across the political aisle and around the world. Notably, last week, the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously approved a bipartisan resolution sponsored by hundreds of Congressmen identifying this genocide. Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) stated, “ISIS is guilty of genocide and it is time we speak the truth about their atrocities.”
As the Obama Administration continues its deliberations, it is worth remembering warnings by Christian leaders at a Senate hearing last March. The Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), Jay Sekulow, whose relatives experienced the Holocaust, said that the version of Islam adhered to by ISIS is "as toxic as the Nazis.” Moreover, Tony Perkins, President of Family Research Council, recalled America’s failure to act in Rwanda under President Bill Clinton and stated, “Now, in the Middle East, the United States has an obligation to prevent genocide. It must not fail to do so again.”
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: March 10, 2016