Is the Obama Administration Doing All it Can to Protect Christians? |

The global swell of radical Islamic terrorism led by the Islamic State (ISIL) has ushered in an exceptionally dangerous era for religious minorities, particularly Christians. On Sunday, a video surfaced depicting the execution of dozens of Ethiopian Christians in Libya, a country that has descended into terrorism-fueled chaos in recent years. This atrocity is only the latest in a string of mass-killings of Christians targeted because of their faith:

  • Earlier this month, 148 Christian students were methodically executed by al-Shabaab gunmen at Garissa University College in Kenya.
  • Last week, 12 Christian refugees drowned after being thrown overboard by Muslims as they fled to Sicily from war-torn Libya.
  • In February, ISIL released a video showing the beheading of nearly two dozen Egyptian Christians.
  • In Iraq, “[m]ore than 125,000 Christians – men, women and children – have been forced from their homes over the last 10 months” by the Islamic State’s advance, CBS News’ “60 Minutes” reported last month.
  • The city of Maaloula in Syria was “one of the oldest Christian communities” in the region, but “nearly the entire population” fled in 2013 when jihadists seeking to overthrow President Bashar Assad attacked, Newsweek reported this month. Only a few Christians have returned to the recaptured city, but “they are praying for survival, because they know hundreds of their fellow Christians have been kidnapped and murdered by” the Islamic State.
  • In 2012, Iran imprisoned an American pastor, Saeed Abedini, for eight years. His wife, Naghmeh Abedini, told Fox News yesterday that his “prison guards have repeatedly threatened to extend the sentence.”
  • This week, French police arrested an Algerian man planning to attack churches.

“Is the White House doing all it can to protect Christians all over the world from increasing violent attacks?” a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Monday. “The White House is working hard to counter any extremist efforts to target anybody because of their religious affiliation,” the spokesman replied. “So we’ve taken steps regardless of an individual’s religious identity to try to protect anybody who is being targeted because of that religious identity.”

Certainly, “working hard” and “taking steps” to protect “anybody” is better than nothing, but is the White House “doing all it can to protect Christians”? It seems we have our answer.

Indeed, the Obama administration:

  • Waited nearly a year to appoint an Ambassador At-Large for International Religious Freedom. President Obama finally nominated someone in July 2014 after the State Department post stood vacant for nine months.
  • Has failed since 2013 to produce the annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom, as required by law.
  • Has on more than one occasion condemned a radical Islamic terrorist attack targeting Christians without mentioning the victims’ religious identity.
  • Offended many Christians when the president himself used this year’s National Prayer Breakfast to admonish those who may “get on our high horse” and forget “terrible deeds” committed during the Crusades – comments criticized by historians.

The Obama White House’s actions have not gone unnoticed – and neither has its inaction, particularly when it comes to another long-empty position in the administration. The Washington Examiner reported Monday:

Activists and elected officials are urging President Obama to stop slow-walking his response to the slaughter of Christians throughout the Middle East.

More than 50 organizations, scholars, religious leaders and human rights advocates, along with 43 members of Congress, called on Obama Monday to fill the vacant post of special envoy for religious minorities in the Middle East and South Central Asia, which has stood vacant since it was created. …

On Easter, Pope Francis expressed deep concern that the international community is standing "mute and inert in the face of such unacceptable crimes." At a Good Friday procession, he also decried the world's "complicit silence" while Christians are being killed in an international jihad that spans the Middle East, Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Europe and the United States.

Congress passed a bipartisan bill late last summer creating the envoy post, and the president signed it into law but has yet to appoint the special envoy. …

Asked Monday about the president's delay in naming the Special Envoy for Religious Minorities in the Middle East and South Central Asia, [White House spokeswoman Bernadette] Meehan said, "We don't have any personnel announcements to make at this time."

It’s ironic that President Obama occasionally describes how the biblical phrase “I am my brother’s keeper” informs his policies. Increasingly, his administration is signaling to persecuted Christians around the world that they are on their own.

The Obama Administration should stand up for religious freedom and protect persecuted Christians around the world.

Posted by Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday, April 22, 2015