There really is a war being waged against Christians but it has nothing to do with the color of coffee cups at Christmastime or whether or not you say “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas.”
Instead it has to do with very real life and death situations, instances where Christians (and members of other faiths) are being tortured and killed for one simple reason: Their faith.
In a statement released in March, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the so-called Islamic State militant group, often referred to as ISIS, “has committed genocide against minority Christians as well as Yazidis and Shi’ite Muslims.”
The U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, led by our own Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, had signed a petition asking that the secretary of state declare that genocide is taking place against Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.
Congress had set a deadline of March 17 for the determination of genocide to be made — and Kerry’s statement met that deadline.
According to a Reuters news story, world leaders from Pope Francis to Germany’s Angela Merkel have been calling what is happening to Christians and other religious minorities at the hands of ISIS genocide.
And ISIS has seemingly gone out of its way to prove that it is so.
The Reuters story noted that Islamic State militants “have swept through Iraq and Syria in recent years, seizing control of large swathes of territory with an eye toward establishing jihadism in the heart of the Arab world.”
In doing so the group has been nothing short of barbaric.
In addition to the Reuters stories, other news agencies such as The New York Times, The Associated Press and others, have documented the ISIS genocide aimed at Christians and other religious minorities.
“The group’s videos depict the violent deaths of people who stand in its (ISIS) way,” a Times story said. “Opponents have been beheaded, shot dead, blown up with fuses attached to their necks and drowned in cages lowered into swimming pools.”
In the latter instances, underwater cameras have been used to capture the atrocity, the agony of those being murdered.
And as if that wasn’t enough, on March 5 gunmen entered a home for the elderly in Aden, Yemen, and murdered four Missionaries of Charity and a dozen other people. According to Vatican Radio, the gunmen went room-to-room, handcuffing victims before shooting each of them in the head.
Pope Francis issued a statement that said he was “shocked and profoundly saddened” by the atrocity. The statement said the pope was praying that “this pointless slaughter will awake consciences, lead to a change of heart and inspire all parties to lay down their arms and take up the path of dialogue.”
When situations such as this occur, most people want to strike back, lash out and hurt the “enemy” as much as he has hurt us. But the world is in a strange place these days.
We realize that in some situations in the Middle East the “enemy” is ISIS; in others it is the government of Syria; in the Horn of Africa it is other militant groups.
There is some temptation to lump all of the militant Islamic groups together, but U.S. intelligence officials know that there are perhaps a dozen or more such groups acting independently of one another.
So who do we fight? We fight the notion of war itself. We fight those who don’t believe that good will eventually triumph over evil. We oppose those who believe that “right is forever on the scaffold; wrong forever on the throne.”
As Christians we face a difficult and daunting task. But Jesus never said it would be easy, did he?
Record Editor Emeritus