"Our churches should heed leaders like U.S. Representatives Wolf and Eshoo who are insisting that the U.S. government not ignore these vulnerable Christians." -- Faith J.H. McDonnell, IRD Church Alliance for a New Sudan Director
Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639 cell, jwalton@TheIRD.org
WASHINGTON, Dec. 30, 2010 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Institute on Religion and Democracy urges U.S. churches to heed the example of the U.S. Congressional Religious Minorities in Iraq Caucus, which is drawing attention -- and demanding a U.S. government response to -- the plight of persecuted Christians in Iraq.
In a recent letter to President Obama, the Congressional group warned that the current situation "promises more innocent Christian blood in Iraq, more turmoil in that country, and more shame for America."
Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), have written to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling on the administration to develop a comprehensive policy for the protection of indigenous religious communities in Iraq. Additionally, Wolf has contacted 40 U.S. religious leaders of different denominations, asking that they consider "how you might use your influence within the church in the West to highlight this unfolding tragedy and possibly prevent what would surely be a devastating outcome -- the extinction of Christians in Iraq."
Before the ouster of Saddam Hussein, there were about 1.4 million Christians in Iraq, comprising about 3 percent of the population, Eshoo told The Hill newspaper. Today, through a mass exodus and violence that has included a dozen members of the clergy killed or kidnapped, about 400,000 remain.
IRD Religious Liberty Director Faith J.H. McDonnell commented:
"The IRD was pleased to join earlier this month in a rally sponsored by Iraqi Americans representing Christians and other religious minority groups that have been oppressed and persecuted. Along with speakers from various human rights and Christian organizations they called upon the respective governments to ensure that the rights and freedoms of the indigenous minorities in Iraq are honored and protected.
"Al Qaeda-connected jihadists have told Iraq's Christians and other 'infidels' to 'prepare to die.' We must stand with these persecuted believers in their hour of need.
"Our too often silent U.S. churches should heed leaders like U.S. Representatives Wolf and Eshoo who are insisting that the U.S. government not ignore these vulnerable Christians."