By Tony Perkins
There hasn’t been much music and dancing in the mountains of Newroz these days. Like most of the region, these Kurds live under the long, dark shadow of ISIS — a terror that has already stolen several of their sons and fathers. But despite the fear and uncertainty, the villagers in Kurdistan refused to let the nightmare consume them and celebrated, as they had for centuries, the Festival of Light and Hope. Meanwhile, 21 of their own were trapped in cages, which ISIS vows to make their tombs. Like the Jordanian pilot, the radical Muslims are threatening to burn the men alive after two months in custody.
In Syria, the news is just as grim. More than 200 Christians are still in captivity, where ISIS is flaunting the supposed conversion of at least one man in its latest propaganda video. To the relief of families across the region, the militants released some of the Christians, only, sources say, to kidnap others. “It is obvious that the moral and physical violence on persons held hostage is another manifestation of barbarism in which we have fallen,” said a Syrian Archbishop. “We pray that the Lord helps and consoles those who suffer in his name.”
And suffer, they have. Church leaders throughout the Middle East are desperate for help. Ignatius Joseph Yonan is pleading with the West to intervene. “Condemnation is not enough,” he told the British press. “Our destiny is in great danger, the Christians and other minorities in Iraq.”
Meanwhile, 7,000 miles away, these brothers and sisters in Christ weren’t far from our thoughts at FRC’s Southern California banquet. As more than 600 of our strongest allies and supporters gathered in Orange County, we focused a lot on what’s happening to Christians in the Middle East. Lt. Col. Oliver North was a wonderful keynote speaker, who put a fine point on the threats abroad and at home. As I explained last night, FRC is putting a special emphasis on new protections for religious freedom, because we believe this freedom is the linchpin for all the others. It is unalienable. It comes from God’s own hand.
Here in America, we are the people of the Cross. And we need to see, as clearly as we can, the strains of thought that leave so many in both the West and the East seeking the end of Christianity and the destruction of the values and institutions which it has done so much to build and preserve. It’s plain to me that in destroying religious freedom, and targeting Christianity, here at home, our domestic Left is seeking to destroy the only force powerful enough, free enough, tolerant enough, and peaceful enough to defeat the coming catastrophes.
That’s why we must contend for our first freedom, our freedom of religion, the freedom to believe and live our lives according to our beliefs. While others shrink back in silence in the face of the challenge, we must stand and speak with courage and clarity. Because silence only encourages those who work actively to diminish or even destroy this fundamental human freedom.
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.
(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
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