The U.S. State Department is considering classifying the actions of the Islamic State (ISIS) against Yazidi people as genocide. This is good news. A designation of genocide means that significant policies will increase efforts to provide asylum. It will also aid and protect the Yazidi people who have suffered so much.
While the decision about Yazidis is welcome, a group of human rights and religious activists have grave concerns. Why? The genocide designation is proposed only for one group, excluding the thousands of others who are suffering the same fate. Victims of ISIS are not only Yazidis but Christians, Shi’a Muslims, Turkmen, and Shabaks.
Russell Moore is the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He joined in with several activists to sign a letter urging the State Department to include Christians and other groups in with the genocide designation.
In a recent article by Baptist Press, Moore was quoted saying, “What we are seeing from ISIS is a targeted persecution of religious and ethnic minorities, including Christians. Acknowledging the targeting and slaughtering of Christians in this region is a first step toward achieving peace and justice there.” Read the full Baptist Press article here.
Since ISIS began terrorizing parts of Iraq and Syria, they killed thousands of Christians and other minority groups. ISIS kidnapped them into sexual slavery. Also, they forced them to convert to Islam. Lastly, they drove from their homes to live as refugees. ISIS has publicly executed Christians. They voiced their intentions to eliminate Christians from their new caliphate.
Iraq and Syria are numbers 3 and 4 on the World Watch List for persecution of Christians that is published by Open Doors. Christians in both countries face “extreme persecution.”
There are several ways to support our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Syria who are facing daily persecution for their faith. Here are a few ways you can get involved.
Learn About Christian Genocides
- The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission speaks to issues on religious liberty in the public square. President Russell Moore frequently speaks on behalf of persecuted Christians around the world. Visit the ERLC website to learn more.
- Read news articles and blogs about what is going on in Iraq and Syria concerning persecution of religious minorities. Although ISIS has been around for a while now, it is still important to stay informed about the situation in Iraq and Syria.
Pray for Persecuted Christians
- As you learn about persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria, don’t just collect the information. Pray about the issues you see. Ask God to intervene in situations that seem hopeless.
- Pray for the leaders of our country and around the world to recognize the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities and offer assistance.
- Ask God to strengthen our brothers and sisters from Iraq and Syria. Also, ask God to help them live out their faith in dangerous circumstances. Pray for them to be bold and for their lives to point others to Christ.
- Pray for those who are persecuting Christians and other groups. Also, for ideas on how to pray for this, read this article from Russell Moore’s blog.
There are several ways to learn about, give to, or advocate for persecuted Christians around the world.
- Open Doors is a non-profit that serves persecuted Christians in over 60 countries through Bible and gospel development, women and children advancement, and Christian community restoration.
- Voice of the Martyrs serves the persecuted church through practical and spiritual assistance and connecting other members of the global body into fellowship with them.