A new op-ed at CNS News paints a disturbing picture of the state of religious liberty across the globe. Citing religious persecution as "a leading social justice crisis of our time," the article outlines the horrific actions being perpetrated against Christians in the Middle East and Africa, and America's less than robust response to this humanitarian catastrophe. From the article:
"The Obama Administration has largely turned a deaf ear towards religious persecution. The State Department came under fire recently for discriminating against Christian refugees from Iraq. My colleague Faith McDonnell at the Institute on Religion and Democracy reported that the State Department has a disturbing pattern of 'ignoring the particular targeting of Christians by ISIS while giving preferential treatment for asylum to other groups with expedited processing – like Somalis, Iraqis, and Syrians, some of whom could very well be members of jihadist movements.'
More maddening than the Obama Administration are the many American Christians neglecting the Persecuted Church. The challenge is that when advocating on behalf of the Persecuted Church, we must simultaneously highlight the social injustices within the Islamic world and the role radical Islam and Jihad play. This is uncomfortable for many Evangelicals, especially younger Evangelicals, influenced by hip liberal religious authors and teachers who tell us that the hipster Jesus we worship isn't an Islamophobe and that it's time for Christians to relinquish our 'persecution complex.' Absurd, but this is happening."
Absurd doesn't begin to describe our nation's response to this devastating humanitarian tragedy. Children are being crucified and buried alive in Iraq and Syria, in the name of Islam, and our president lacks the courage to overcome certain ideological biases against Christianity in order to speak out and stand against this barbarity.
Perhaps it's because he's unable to overcome that image of midwestern Republicans clinging to "guns and religion," and this politically-crafted delusion eclipses the very real images of men, women, and children being systematically targeted for imprisonment, rape, slavery, and murder. Perhaps the president so associates Christianity as the religion of white imperialism and Islam as the faith of persecuted minorities that he is incapable of processing the fact that in the Middle East, it is Christianity that is the minority religion and that this religious minority is being persecuted at the hands of the religious majority, Islam.
Can the President truly be so apathetic in the face of a radical Islamic group set on establishing a worldwide caliphate? Does a man who espouses a Progressive vision of faith, morality, and public policy truly see nothing threatening about a religion that advocates the forced conversion of nonbelievers? Does he realize what life would be like for his wife and daughters under such a scheme if ISIS is successful? Does he really hold the religion of Islam in such high esteem that he is willing to overlook the brutality enacted in its name? If accusations of discriminatory treatment of Christian refugees by the U.S. State Department are indeed true, then it appears the answer to all these questions is yes.
What's ironic is that our president, while overwhelmingly apathetic to the real persecution occurring in the Middle East and Africa, is so sensitive to accusations of religiously-motivated "persecution" in America. When a Christian photographer or baker or pizza parlor declines to contract services for a gay wedding, or a public official cites religious conscience as a reason for not carrying out her duties, fines are levied, lawsuits are filed, and the police are called. The full resources of the federal government are mustered in defense of "civil rights" against the tyranny of religious "fundamentalism."
The terror and agony being felt daily by the Persecuted Church abroad is not enough to move our President to firm and decisive action against ISIS and other forces of Islamic extremism, but the prospect of a gay couple having their feelings hurt by a Christian baker is apparently a crime against humanity that he is unwilling to tolerate, even though he is a constitutional attorney that knows full well the protections afforded to religious liberty by our nation's founding legal document.
President Obama and those Americans inclined to dismiss the threat posed by radical Islam in exchange for hand wringing over wedding cakes and marriage licenses are playing a dangerous game. We Americans tend not to take threats seriously, perhaps because we've been on top of the world for so long that we have a hard time appreciating a sinister threat staring us in the face.
The 9-11 attacks have faded in the memories of many and are, for a whole new generation, little more than images from a page in their junior high social studies textbook. But the threat posed by ISIS is real, and more imminent than we might like to think. Their reach and potency have increased at an astonishing rate, and while we may prefer to spoof them on SNL than confront the real danger they pose, they are deadly serious in their mission to conquer the world in the name of Allah.
As for American Christians, the suffering of our brethren in the Middle East and Africa should motivate us to action. We must not stand idly by while our brothers and sisters are being martyred by the thousands. We also must not be apathetic in the face of growing threats at home. Today the extent of obstacles faced by American Christians who live out their faith publicly are fines and perhaps a few days in jail. Silence in the face of these soft offenses, however, will only embolden those who seek to eradicate the influence of the Christian faith on American society.
While President Obama may not view America as a Christian nation, ISIS most certainly does, and they will stop at nothing in their quest to destroy "The Great Satan" and all she represents.