It has been over two months since Faith McDonnell, Religious Liberty Program Director of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, wrote about the United States’s “woefully inadequate” response to the plight of Christians and other religious minorities in Syria, asking why so few Christian and Yazidi refugees had been accepted relative to their percentage of the population.
In that time, we have heard the encouraging news that one of the most well-known victims of religious persecution in the Middle East — pastor Saeed Abedini — was finally released from prison in Iran; we’ve also been profoundly saddened by satellite evidence showing a 1400-year-old Christian monastery in Iraq reduced to rubble.
Yesterday, the European Parliament passed a resolution declaring ISIS’s acts genocide, specifically mentioning Christians and Yazidis. That puts Europe’s government ahead of our own: as of yesterday, the Obama administration’s team of lawyers is apparently still deliberating over whether the word applies. “If they don’t think there is enough evidence of genocide against Christians and Yazidis, I’m not sure what they’re waiting for,” said Travis Weber of Family Research Council.
It is clear to everybody — to us, to the administration, to the reporter questioning the White House press secretary — that the distinction matters a lot. It is a very concrete way to offer a new lifeline to people who are fleeing unspeakable atrocities. What is more difficult to understand is why there is so much foot-dragging from a major world power that has so valued religious freedom, it wrote it into the Constitution over 200 years ago.
House Concurrent Resolution 75, our bipartisan equivalent of the European resolution, has not seen significant action since it was introduced in early September. Please use our Action Center to urge Congress to pass it. The United States should accept the nudge from its European counterparts. Christians and other persecuted minorities can’t wait — they need help now.