USA (ODM/MNN) — It’s no secret that the Obama Administration puts religious persecution on a low rung in terms of priorities.
However, the silence greeting a wholesale, targeted slaughter of a group of people because of their beliefs has been noted around the world. Open Doors USA says the past year has been a deadly one for Christians in the Near East and South Central Asia.
With the rise of radical Islamic groups in the region (most notably ISIS), thousands of Christians have been attacked, kidnapped, or murdered. The uptick in religious violence marks 2014 as one of the worst years for persecution for Christians in modern history.
Open Doors USA spokeswoman Emily Fuentes says last summer, a Special Envoy bill landed on President Obama’s desk, and he signed it into law. “This position is actually a brand new position for this particular region. It’s a miracle, of sorts. It was a bill that passed through both Congress and Senate.” It was a glimmer of hope. Since then, Fuentes says, It has actually been sitting on the president’s desk. All he needs to do is appoint an envoy.”
Worldwide pressure to acknowledge the persecution issue prompted this response: “The President has been more vocal about the fact that there is Christian persecution and that it’s not right. He has made that very clear, vocally.” However, words are empty if there’s no action to back them up, says Fuentes. An envoy he’s already approved would be the action needed. “This person would be responsible for monitoring religious freedom violations in this region and to see what is, in fact, happening to Christians and notifying our government and the State Department so they can have a realistic view of what’s going on and be an advocate and a voice for those who do not have a voice.”
The position remains vacant. Yet never has there been a more critical time in our history for such a role within the US Department of State, Fuentes notes. “In the past year, we’ve seen an unprecedented amount of persecution against Christians–not just in one country, but the entire region. And it’s spreading through countries where it wasn’t really an issue before.”
Open Doors USA launched a petition drive to ask the president to do something to help protect Christians from the onslaught of radical groups bent on eradicating them. “We’re asking Christians from around the world, and specifically America, to sign this petition, asking that he [Obama] do more than just speak on behalf of persecuted Christians but actually protect them by appointing this position. All you have to do is go to www.opendoorsusa.org, and we’ve got the petition right there on our main page.”
By appointing an envoy, the hope is to protect this vulnerable group of people who are being mown down because they bear the name of Christ. An envoy would also be able to help preserve ancient Christian communities and to ensure the safe futures of hundreds of thousands of believers.
That’s one step in a two-step process. Signing the petition needs to be preceded by prayer. What good can it do? Ultimately, “When we equip Christians by protecting them, we’re allowing them to stay in these hostile areas, and as a result, we’re seeing the Gospel grow and thrive.”
Tell President Obama that minority Christians in the Near East and South Central Asia deserve our support and we must take action NOW to ensure their protection.
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