OXON HILL, MD – Years of persecution has left the Middle East’s once-thriving Christian population at odds for survival as what is being described as a “genocide” of the followers of Jesus Christ threatens to eradicate them.
During a panel titled “Save the Persecuted Christians” at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in the Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center in Maryland, Dr. Jerry Johnson, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Religious Broadcasters, who moderated the event, said, “We’re going to reach less than three percent Christian population in the Middle East in less than 10 years down from 13 percent about 100 years ago.”
He said, “This is the cradle, the birthplace of Christianity and now we are down to four percent.” He added his belief that the only word that can be used to describe this catastrophe is “genocide.”
He said, “because it’s Christians [being persecuted], it’s not so politically correct to use that word. But we are here today to say it’s time to use that word … it’s time to save the persecuted Christians.”
“This is a human rights issue,” Johnson told those gathered. “It’s not just a religious issue. And to put up the banner, to wear the nun symbol, to show up, to speak up; that’s what we are asking people to do.”
At the start of the Syrian civil war, Johnson said there were approximately 2.5 million Christians in the country. “We are certainly under half of that now. In Iraq, you had about 1.5 million before 2003 and we’re at one-fifth of that now; maybe less than that.”
He cited a recent study that listed countries that are the most dangerous to the followers of Jesus as North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Yemen, Iran, India, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Syria, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Vietnam, Turkmenistan, Laos.
Johnson said there are two underlying themes in all of these countries; namely, “the Islamist ideology, sharia, the blasphemy codes and all that goes with that as the main plot.” He said, “the sub-plot is the revival of radical Hinduism.”
He also claimed that India’s current leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “Is talking about reviving Hindustan. I mean, he is glorying in all of this.”
Suzanne Schulty of the Defense Forum Foundation is a leading activist for North Korean human rights. She spoke about severe Christian persecution in North Korea and noted that Christians are targeted and “persecuted by Kim because he’s their god. Kim Il-Sung, as a child, was raised in a Christian home,” during the time Korea was occupied by Japan. She said this made him “see the power of the Christian faith” and ultimately reject it.
However, she also noted that in North Korea, unlike in other parts of the world where Christians are being persecuted, there is a revival of the Christian faith that has presented her with optimism.
Father Andre Mahanna, Founder of Mission of Hope and Mercy for Christians in the Middle East, who served on Vatican’s 2010 Synod on the Middle East, said the situation against Christians throughout the world has made him concerned about the future of the United States of America – the bastion of Judeo-Christian values.
“It is important to show the connection between the Christian persecution going on in the world and why we, in America, must care about it here at home,” Mahanna said. “If we don’t care or don’t fight against the persecution and genocide of Christians and other minorities in the world abroad, how are we going to be prepared to fight to protect our own freedom here, in the United States of America?”
He said in places where people reject God, there is persecution, death, and destruction. “Today, Christianity is not only a shrinking religion, it’s a hated religion.”
Faith McDonnell of the Institute on Religion and Democracy a leading activist for Sudanese minority rights and Breitbart News contributor, noted that there are more Anglicans in Sudan than anywhere else in the world. She said, “the church is strong in Africa,” but added, “what I want to deal with is the church in the West and what it can do to change the attitude of Christians in the West. I think there’s a number of reasons why American Christians aren’t helping as much as they should.”
McDonnell attributed that to lack of knowledge about statistics regarding the persecution of their fellow Christians throughout the world. She also said “media bombardment that is sensational” has distracted from more pressing issues.
In closing, Johnson said, “save the brochure, remember the titles, ‘Save the Christians.’ Remember the old questions,” he said, referring to and paraphrasing a famous quote by the late Rabbi Hillel: “If not this, what? If not now, when? If not you, who?”
The Save the Persecuted Christians campaign launched on February 14, Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent for Christians.
Watch the panel at CPAC below: