This is the third in a series of posts presenting segments of ACLJ Films’ latest project, “Let My People Go,” which highlights the plight of persecuted Christians across the globe and what the ACLJ is doing to fight the global genocide against the Christian Church.
It is estimated that eleven Christians are killed every hour because of their faith – 273 Christians every single day. As Pope Francis recently observed, there is more persecution of Christians today than in the 1st Century in Rome. The Islamic State (ISIS) is to blame for much of this persecution. The terror employed by ISIS – murder, torture, rape – is a reality for thousands of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East and parts of Africa every day. Christians who are fortunate enough to escape ISIS’s brutality are, at best, treated like 2nd class citizens. They are driven out of their homes, their churches and their communities and forced to live out of shipping containers, plastic tents or other makeshift shelters.
Reports indicate that the ISIS movement is growing and that it has expanded its operations to North Africa and to Afghanistan. ISIS has recently overtaken two major cities – Ramadi in Iraq (the gateway to Baghdad which holds an important water supply for pro-government areas in Iraq fighting ISIS) and Palmyra in Syria. It is estimated that ISIS now controls 50% of Syria. In recent weeks, ISIS has been credited with kidnapping 500 children in Iraq, 120 children from schools in the Northern Nineveh province, and 88 Eritrean Christians in Libya.
It is without dispute that the threat of ISIS presents one of, if not, the greatest humanitarian and national security crises of our time. America and allied countries have the capability to end the persecution by ISIS and other governments. So why haven’t we?
America continues to receive pleas for help from both military groups fighting ISIS and the victims of its brutality. Thus far, the Administration has only responded with limited air support and humanitarian aid. As Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee observed last week, “[i]t’s dreadfully obvious that we aren’t working well enough to defeat ISIS and protect the people.” President Obama conceded as much last week when he admitted that he doesn’t yet have a “complete strategy” for defeating ISIS and later asked the American people for “strategic patience” while he works to implement one. Don’t hold your breath. President Obama has presumably been working to develop an effective strategy for more than a year now.
The Administration has also been less than supportive of Congressional efforts to address the growing crises. In August 2014, Congress overwhelmingly passed legislation (The Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act) creating a special envoy to monitor and combat acts of religious intolerance and incitement targeted against religious minorities in countries in the Middle East and south central Asia. At that time, Congress urged the President to sign the bill into law and immediately appoint a special envoy. As of today, almost ten months after passage of the bill, President Obama has yet to appoint someone to fill this post. Last fall, Congress also voted to authorize training and equipping the Syrian opposition forces. In March of this year, however, the Administration had not taken the necessary steps to make that happen.
In addition, following ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow’s testimony in March before the U.S. Senate urging Congress to make religious freedom a criteria for countries receiving aid from the U.S., the Senate passed an amendment to the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 requiring the Administration to take religious freedom into account during the negotiations of trade agreements with other countries. And most recently, the House Foreign Affairs Committee heard testimony from victims of ISIS urging Congress to do more in the fight against ISIS. In a statement issued just a few days ago, Chairman Royce urged President Obama to commence air strikes and target ISIS positions to prevent them from achieving further strategic gains.
As the Administration continues to stall in implementing any effective strategy for defeating ISIS, we continue to watch as ISIS followers increase in significant numbers, additional militia groups pledge their allegiance to ISIS and entire communities of religious minorities are slaughtered.
So the question remains, if not us, then who? If America and its allies don’t unite to defeat ISIS, then who will?
We’re mobilizing our offices worldwide and working in Congress to defend Christians. Support our work for the persecuted Church today.
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