Kerry Comes to Terms with ISIS
War-torn Christians in the Middle East finally have a new advocate: the United States of America. While families languish in camps and hiding places desperate for the West’s help, the Obama administration is finally offering some. In somewhat of a surprise announcement, since State Department officials hinted that they might miss Congress’s March 17 deadline, Secretary John Kerry righted a longtime wrong by joining the rest of the Western world in condemning the violence against Christians and other religious minorities as genocide.
“My purpose of appearing before you today is to assert that in my judgment, [ISIS] is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control including Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims,” Secretary Kerry told reporters. “[ISIS] is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by its actions. In what is says, what it believes, and what it does. [ISIS] is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups and in some cases also Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities.”
Hunted down, beaten, enslaved, and tortured for their faith, Christians have been crying out for the world’s attention since they were first driven from their ancient homeland. Now, more than a year after groups like FRC called on the administration to find its voice, the president has arrived at a declaration that can finally trigger some relief for the suffering. For members of Congress like Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nebr.), who have led the charge to bring the U.S. in line with the global consensus, today’s declaration is an important step in ending the vicious slaughter of men, women, and children. “I sincerely hope that the genocide designation will raise international consciousness, end the scandal of silence, and create the preconditions for the protection and reintegration of these ancient faith communities into their ancestral homelands,” he said. “Christians, Yezidis, and others remain an essential part of the Middle East’s rich tapestry of religious and ethnic diversity. They now have new cause for hope.”
Thanks to the moral clarity of the entire U.S. House of Representatives, European Parliament, U.S. Commission on International Religious Liberty, and countless others, the president is at long last bringing America to the table of a worldwide conversation on how to best stop this evil. At a time when “whole families, villages and cities of our brothers and sisters in Christ are being completely exterminated,” our words now need to be backed up with actions. The international community must not only speak with one voice but work to isolate ISIS and anyone facilitating their reign of terror.
As anyone who has read the Knights of Columbus report can testify, it is impossible to read the first-hand accounts of brutalized innocents and come away unchanged. But there is something you can do to help. First, pray. Then, join other Christians across the country in supporting the non-government organizations that are working on the ground to meet basic needs and provide sanctuary for our brothers and sisters in Christ and other religious minorities. Organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, Open Doors USA, Hardwired, Voice of the Martyrs, and others who are working in various ways to ease the suffering of those being targeted for their faith. For more on today’s development, check out Travis Weber’s brand new column, “Labeling ISIS against Christians a Genocide Isn’t Enough.”
Also, please circle your calendars for Sunday, April 17, as FRC — in partnership with other groups — launches a nationwide Stand with the Persecuted effort in U.S. churches. Stay tuned for more information and special resources as congregations across the country help highlight the plight of our suffering brothers and sisters overseas.
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