Letter from America, Part Three of David Virtue’s regular series
The plight of Christians in the lands where Christianity began, has often been forgotten by US believers
When President Donald Trump signed an executive order on January 27, 2017 temporarily halting immigration from certain Muslim countries, Christians in America felt relieved that someone – a president no less – had their interests at heart as they had watched Christians being driven out of the Middle East by the tens of thousands. From 7% to now less than 1.5%.
In less than a decade (2004–2011), the Chaldo-Assyrian Christian population in Iraq has been reduced from more than a million to approximately 150,000 people.
The seven countries had previously been singled out by the Obama Administration as terrorist risks and now reaffirmed by Donald Trump. The text of Trump’s executive order did provide for exceptions for those described as “religious minorities” in their country of origin. To satisfy his evangelical base, Trump said he wanted to make persecuted Christians a priority; he wanted to help them.
In God’s providence, we now have a leader in Trump, who seems to want to do something decent and good for persecuted Christians in the Arab world.
Elliott Abrams, in a piece in the Weekly Standard wrote, “Why Do We Not Save Christians?”. “Today, Christians are under special threat in the Middle East. The possibility that Christian refugees will be able to go home and reconstruct their communities and lead normal lives is far lower than are the chances for their Muslim neighbors. The level of continuing discrimination and physical threat against them is high, and in Syria and Iraq they will always constitute tiny and powerless groups. The argument for reaching out to rescue Christian refugees and those from other threatened religious minorities is clear: They are worse off than their Muslim neighbors. They face special circumstances, of which we should in all fairness take account. To turn away from them because they are Christian and we do not wish to be accused of favoritism toward Christians is a shameful position for Americans – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist – to take.”
Christians have a special duty to care for and protect their brethren. Any opposing opinion is wrong, misguided and contrary to Scripture.
Furthermore, the responsibilities of private individuals and governments differ. Understood correctly, the concept of turning the other cheek is a good practice for Christian citizens, but it is a very poor and highly dangerous foreign policy. The American project began with Christian minorities’ coming to this new world; the precedence of our country’s history is one showing that previous generations of Christians in this land knew they had an obligation to protect those in the family of faith.
There’s a sickness in the Arab world. A fury so wild and deep no one knows how to stop it. It is a desire to destroy and subject everything which is other; everything that is not itself. More often than not, it is the minorities – especially Christians – who are the other on which this fury is unleashed. Middle Eastern Christians feel betrayed by our Christian brethren here, and are persecuted and killed there. Is there no place on earth for us to live in peace and dignity? Will no one look with pity on us? Must we be continually cast aside for expediency, greed or political correctness? People who reject their own will not survive, writes Luma Simms of Mercator.net.
“There was a time when America showed itself fully capable of protecting its Christian brethren. The Barbary pirates used to capture Christians and sell them in the Ottoman slave market. America paid ransoms and used the new U.S. Navy to rescue the Christians.
“Today, American Christians have lost that sense of duty toward their brethren in other parts of the world. This is due partly to the comfortable individualistic culture in our country, and partly it is a subtle – possibly even unconscious – belief that it is more righteous to help those who are unlike us.”
Abrams wrote, “We must also remember that there are Christians and other minorities who want to stay in their ancestral homeland. I’m in full agreement with The Philos Project Executive Director Robert Nicholson, who said, “Any executive or legislative measure designed to get minorities out of region should be paired with a companion measure to help people stay.”
This has been echoed by Anglican Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt who has called on Christians to stay rather than flee. His country has seen the slaughter of Coptic Christians over the last few months by militant Brotherhood Islamists.
Ideally, there should be an ongoing and thriving Christian presence in nations across the Levant and the entire Middle East, but that is not happening right now, nor perhaps will, in this generation. We can and ought to be making plans to facilitate such a world, but in the meantime, there is a trickling genocide from which Christians need relief, writes Abrams
But even with Trump’s executive order, Christians may not get relief. Lymon Stone, in “Here’s What Trump’s Immigration Order Says And How It Needs To Be Fixed,” offers thorough analysis of the executive order, showing that – as the EO stands right now – it may effectively reduce Christian refugees even further. So all of the fuss over any kind of priority for Middle Eastern Christians may be moot. Which makes American Christians’ participation in this outcry even more offensive.
As an Iraqi Christian wrote, “I ask that you take pity on your fellow Christians. Begin with charity for them. Work for better immigration laws and a more thorough vetting process. Part of improving the situation for all refugees means taking the time to learn about Da’Wah, the process of Islamization, so that we can all work together to ensure it doesn’t happen in our country.”