President Obama's remarks two days before Christmas — condemning the persecution of Christians in the Middle East — earned accolades from In Defense of Christians (IDC), a leading advocacy group.
“In Defense of Christians is grateful to President Obama for making this year’s annual Christmas message an opportunity to manifest solidarity with and raise awareness about the terrible plight of the Christian community under ISIS,” IDC Executive Director Kirsten Evans told Newsmax on Dec. 28.
Evans recalled ISIS’ grisly record in 2015 of ravaging “centuries-old Christian communities in the surge of theological totalitarianism it has prescribed over the territories under its control.”
The mass executions of Coptic, Ethiopian, and Assyrian Christians, she said, “whose only ‘crime’ was their Christian identity, were made theater for all the world to see.
“We’ve beheld the ongoing destruction of Christian churches, schools, monasteries, convents, and cemeteries in an attempt by ISIS to eradicate Christianity entirely from the psychological and cultural history of the region.”
Obama was clearly on the same page as Evans and the IDC with his statement — long awaited by Christians worldwide — that while American Christians are free to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, not all Christians around the world enjoy this freedom.
"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," Obama said.
IDC’s Evans and others advocating the cause of persecuted Christians make no secret of their hope for a critical next step by the president: to brand ISIS’ treatment of Christians as genocide.
In discussing hopes that the president and the State Department will use the word “genocide,” Evans recalled how on July 10, Pope Francis declared, "'A form of genocide — and I stress the word genocide — is taking place, and it must end.’"
She noted that “other world leaders have echoed this call throughout the year, including the world’s leading association of genocide scholars and over 160 members of the United States Congress.”
In Obama's statement, he said: "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."
"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."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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