President Barack Obama issued an official statement on the eve of Christmas Eve, expressing concern for Christians who are suffering persecution in the Middle East.
The statement could have come from pressure from numerous circles, encouraging the Obama Administration to pay closer attention to the plight of Christians in the Middle East.
Congressional lawmakers from the House of Representatives reached out to Secretary of State John Kerry about “persistent” reports that the administration may exclude Christians and other minorities in an upcoming genocide determination against ISIS that would only mention Yazidis, a non-Christian sect that ISIS has targeted.
The letter from House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), signed by 29 other lawmakers, notes that when asked at a Nov. 4 hearing whether genocide is occurring in the Middle East, Assistant Secretary of State Anne Patterson just said “there will be some announcements on that very shortly.”
“The Committee has been seeking additional information from the Department of State since, but has received none,” the Congress members wrote.
“At the hands of ISIL, Christians and other minorities have faced mass murder, crucifixions, sexual slavery, torture, beheadings, the kidnapping of children, and other violence deliberately calculated to eliminate their communities from the so-called Islamic State,” the letter to Kerry continues.
“Any genocide determination must reflect the full reality of the situation based on the best evidence available,” the letter concluded.
Pressure on the Obama Administration has also come from Greek Orthodox Church circles.
Earlier in the month, the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago passed a resolution at its annual laity conference calling on the White House to recognize the persecution against Christians as a “genocide.”
Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, Chancellor of the Chicago Metropolis also had numerous editorials published on the matter in major Midwest newspapers including the Chicago Sun Times and newspapers in Indianapolis, Indiana and Des Moines, Iowa, amongst others.
Officials at the Chicago Metropolis sent their unanimous resolution to the White House over a month ago after it was passed at the annual gathering of church delegates.
President Obama’s complete White House Statement:
Statement by the President on Persecuted Christians at Christmas
During this season of Advent, Christians in the United States and around the world are preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. At this time, those of us fortunate enough to live in countries that honor the birthright of all people to practice their faith freely give thanks for that blessing. Michelle and I are also ever-mindful that many of our fellow Christians do not enjoy that right, and hold especially close to our hearts and minds those who have been driven from their ancient homelands by unspeakable violence and persecution.
In some areas of the Middle East where church bells have rung for centuries on Christmas Day, this year they will be silent; this silence bears tragic witness to the brutal atrocities committed against these communities by ISIL.
We join with people around the world in praying for God’s protection for persecuted Christians and those of other faiths, as well as for those brave men and women engaged in our military, diplomatic, and humanitarian efforts to alleviate their suffering and restore stability, security, and hope to their nations. As the old Christmas carol reminds us:
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.