Sunday, May 20, 2007

Times getting rougher for Christians in Iraq

America has sacrificed thousands of lives and spent billions of dollars trying to bring freedom to Iraq, but recent reports show the country has a long way to go when it comes to providing one fundamental liberty we hold dear.

Our Constitution provides citizens with the right to worship freely, and if we choose, we can attend places of worship without any real fear. Of course, this is a freedom that many Americans take for granted, but that is a column for another time.

Simply put, it is really difficult to be a Christian in Iraq right now, according to organizations that monitor religious rights abuses.

For example, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom had this to say about the plight of Christians there: “These (Christian) groups face widespread violence from Sunni insurgents and foreign jihadists, and they also suffer pervasive discrimination and marginalization at the hands of the national government, regional governments, and para-state militias.”

The commission also stated that up to 50 percent of Christians have already fled the country because of conditions there. Since Christians only make up a small percentage of the religious landscape there to begin with, the faith’s influence continues to weaken in that region.

Ironically, most groups who monitor religious rights abuses generally agree that Christians there had more religious freedom during Saddam Hussein’s reign than now.

For all of his Islamic posturing, Hussein really did not view Christians as a threat. However, after he was ousted, insurgents began targeting them, which has led to the current dangerous climate.

This has to be one of the most frustrating elements of the war. Hussein was a weasel, and the world is not missing him now that he is gone. But the religious freedom of people who share the same faith as millions of Americans has gotten progressively worse since his removal.

This fact adds yet another big log to the firestorm of debate regarding what our role in that country should be.

After all, if something as fundamental as the right to worship God freely cannot be guaranteed, what does this say about the current state of the Iraqi War?

At this point, it would be easy to go down an inflammatory road, but we must remain patient. Iraq is in turmoil, and it affects every aspect of life there including how a person wants to worship God.

Much like the United States went through deep periods of turmoil during its infancy, Iraq is doing the same.

Because of this, there will be no easy or quick answers to resolve issues relating to religious freedom. That is the sad but brutal truth. The situation Iraqi Christians find themselves in will not get better any time soon.

As somebody so far away, it is heartbreaking to watch this unfold. People are literally risking their lives just to go to church. Given the religious apathy that saturates many in America, can we say we would be as committed as the Iraqi Christians if we were in their shoes?

It is a question that should tug us in the deepest places of our heart.

If history tells us anything, it tells us that people don’t truly appreciate the rights they have until those rights get threatened. For instance, we are grateful for the freedom we enjoy, but didn’t we enjoy it just a little bit more after the terrorists attacked us on 9/11?

The 9/11 attacks splashed cold water in our faces, and made us realize that liberty comes at a cost. Plus, the attacks made us realize that there are people who would love nothing more than to take that liberty away from us.

The attacks caused us to re-affirm that our way of life is worth fighting for and that paved the way for the War on Terror.

Well, the Christians in Iraq are showing that they are willing to fight for Jesus. They put their lives in jeopardy each day to do that.

As for Christians in America, we should be praying for these people. We also must monitor the situation there to see if there is any way we can help. Web sites like do a good job providing updates on the religious climate in countries like Iraq and around the world.

That is the least we can do.

1 comment:

OpenJoe said...

Thanks for writing about this Chris.