“What we are seeing here is ecumenical cleansing,” said Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, who called the region “the unsafest place in the world for Christians.”
More than 180 clergy, seminary professors, authors and activists have signed a “pledge of solidarity and call to action” that advocates for the special envoy in addition to a regional review of U.S. foreign aid to ensure recipients uphold principles of pluralism and religious freedom. They also seek assurance that religious minorities receive fair access to U.S. refugee assistance.
“The current trajectory, marked by political violence and, in the cases of Iraq and Syria, full-blown war, risks a Middle East largely emptied of the millennia-old presence of Christians,” reads the statement, citing cases of executed Christians, demolished churches, kidnapped clergy and forced conversions.
“If history has any lesson to teach us about silence, it’s not a good one,” he said, urging both the churches and lawmakers to take action to protect the religious freedom of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.
"Since these communities account for most of the indigenous Christians in today's Middle East, the continued presence of Christians in the region where Christianity originated 2,000 years ago is threatened."
The pledge states that Egypt, Iraq and Syria have seen "scores of churches deliberately destroyed, many clergy and laypeople targeted for death, kidnapping, intimidation and forcible conversion, and hundreds of thousands of believers driven from their countries."
Specific patterns of attacks detailed in the pledge include:
- Christians, including some clergy, after being identified as such by their names, identity cards, or some other means, have been beheaded, shot execution-style or otherwise brutally murdered. Clergy have also been killed for their peace-making efforts or simply as personifications of the Christian faith.
- Untold numbers of Christians, including bishops, priests, pastors, and nuns, have been kidnapped and held for ransom.
- Young women have been abducted and forced to convert to Islam and marry their captors.
- In some instances, Christians have been told to convert to Islam or be killed; some have been forced to pay protection money.
- Muslim apostasy and blasphemy codes and standards for dress, occupation and social behavior are being enforced for Christians, as well as for Muslims, in some communities.
- The assaults continue despite rejection by the majority of Muslims and condemnation by prominent Muslim voices, such as Jordan's Prince Ghazi bin Mohammed and Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Sistani, as the pledge is clear in emphasizing.
Prayer request? Send an email to: PrayerRequest3@aol.com