Activists: West ignoring genocide of Middle East religious minorities

Religious freedom advocate Katrina Lantos Swett, right, leads a panel for the opening of the In Defense of Christians national convention Sept. 7 in Washington, D.C. (RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks)

Religious freedom advocate Katrina Lantos Swett, right, leads a panel for the opening of the In Defense of Christians national convention Sept. 7 in Washington, D.C. (RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks)

WASHINGTON (RNS) — Nearly six months after Secretary of State John Kerry declared the murder of Christians in the Middle East a “genocide,” Westerners are doing little to stop the killings, said activists gathered for a convention on the victims’ plight.

Religious freedom advocate Katrina Lantos Swett called the crisis “perhaps the great moral challenge of our time right now” at a Sept. 7 news conference opening the national convention for In Defense of Christians, an advocacy group.

“I am baffled and heartbroken, as the daughter of Holocaust survivors, at how it is possible for the West to seem so, so blind, willfully blind, or even worse, aware but relatively disinterested in what is unfolding in our time, on our watch, in our purview of being able to act,” said Swett, president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice.

Activists are urging Congress to take decisive steps to protect the lives and culture of groups such as Assyrian and Coptic Christians, and non-Christians such as the Yazidis.

Rep. Dave Trott, R-Mich., announced plans during the news conference to introduce legislation to support the restoration of Coptic Christian churches destroyed by Egyptian looters in religious violence in 2013.

Andrew Doran, co-founder of In Defense of Christians, said his group and other advocates will be working together to seek congressional action on ending the conflict in Syria, which he said is breeding terrorism in that region and beyond it.

“It’s not coming, it’s here — it’s in our churches, it’s in our nightclubs and it’s in our public spaces and it will get much worse before it gets better,” Doran said. “If we move swiftly to end the conflict in Syria, we can save lives there now and save American lives and other lives elsewhere in the decades to come.”

— Adelle Banks

© 2016 Religion News Service. Used with permission.

Posted September 8, 2016

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4 Responses to Activists: West ignoring genocide of Middle East religious minorities

  1. Mandy September 12, 2016 at 9:37 pm #

    What can Lutherans do to help? How can we give Christian Syrian Refugees a safe camp to go to? There are many refugee camps, but even inside the camps they are persecuted by Muslims. How can Lutherans create a safe refugee camp for Christians and other minorities?

    • LCMS Church Information Center September 13, 2016 at 9:24 am #

      Thank you for your comment. The LCMS is helping SELK, our partner church in Germany, with refugees that are converting to Christianity and are being persecuted for it. You’ll find a story at At our recent convention, the delegates passed a resolution applauding the effort. You will find other useful information on our website at

      You may also wish to review our Lutheran Witness magazine on the topic at

      Our Synod cares for those that are being persecuted and set up an opportunity for those wishing to financially support persecuted and displaced Christians. To make a gift online, please click here: Christ’s Care for the Persecuted and Displaced.

      To make a donation by mail, make a check payable to the LCMS and write the gift designation on the memo line of your check (e.g. Christ’s Care for the Persecuted and Displaced.) and send it to:

      The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
      Mission Advancement
      P.O. Box 66861
      St. Louis, MO 63166-6861

      To make a credit card gift over the phone, you may call the LCMS toll-free gift line between 8 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Central time at 1-888-930-4438.

      Click here to see what Lutheran Hour Ministries is doing in that part of the world.

  2. Jim September 13, 2016 at 2:25 pm #

    Adopted by Resolution 260 (III) A of the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948.

    Article 1
    The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.

    Article 2
    In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

    (a) Killing members of the group;
    (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
    (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
    (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
    (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

    Article 3
    The following acts shall be punishable:

    (a) Genocide;
    (b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
    (c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
    (d) Attempt to commit genocide;
    (e) Complicity in genocide.

    Article 4
    Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article 3 shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private.

    So what is the UN doing nothing

  3. Keith Freie October 4, 2016 at 9:08 am #

    I don’t think the UN has any intention of doing anything. After all, Christianity is a road block to them. Most of the world could care less about this persecution and many promote it one way or another.
    This was all foretold in the Book of Revelations and other scripture. We will stand up for Christ and Christianity, but until His return things will get even harder for us here in the US as well. Don’t fool yourselves, the day will come when we suffer the same while our government watches in apathy.

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