Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center
According to recently released figures from the State Dept., the United States has let in a miniscule number of Christian refugees from Syria — only 34 — during the four years since the Islamic State began its campaign of mass slaughter. Put differently, although Christians amount for 10 percent of Syria’s population—and so should at least be 10 percent of the refugees accepted into the States—only two percent of those accepted are Christians.
This disparity is being ignored by influential U.S. Christian groups. The Church World Service (CWS) and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have both called for the resettlement of 100,000 Syrian refugees in the United States next year. Yet advocacy for especially persecuted Christians is lacking among these U.S. Christian organizations.
The CWS, for example, does not even mention persecuted Christians on its website’s call to help Syrian refugees; it primarily features pictures of Muslims. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops — which touts itself as the world’s largest refugee resettlement organization and even received $80 million from the federal government in 2014 for its Migration Fund — also often fails to mention Christians in its public advocacy for the resettlement of Syrian refugees.
Refugee Resettlement Watch charges that “The Bishops [of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops] surely are not telling local priests and parishioners that they are raking in millions of dollars of cold hard cash from federal taxpayers for refugee resettlement activities. And, they aren’t telling them that they are NOT advocating to save the persecuted Christians of Syria through this program” (emphasis in original).
All too often, when the Catholic hierarchy does mention persecuted Christians, they are lumped in with every other group, including Muslim majorities. Such an approach begins with Pope Francis. Last September, when he stood before the world at the United Nations, his energy was, once again, spent on defending the environment. In his entire speech, which lasted nearly 50 minutes, only once did Francis make reference to persecuted Christians—and he merged their sufferings in the same sentence with the supposedly equal sufferings of “members of the majority religion,” that is, Sunni Muslims (the only group not to be attacked by the Islamic State, a Sunni organization). Said Francis:
I must renew my repeated appeals regarding to the painful situation of the entire Middle East, North Africa and other African countries, where Christians, together with other cultural or ethnic groups, and even members of the majority religion who have no desire to be caught up in hatred and folly, have been forced to witness the destruction of their places of worship, their cultural and religious heritage, their houses and property, and have faced the alternative either of fleeing or of paying for their adhesion to good and to peace by their own lives, or by enslavement.
In the real world, however, “members of the majority religion”—Sunnis—are not being slaughtered, beheaded, and raped for their faith; are not having their mosques bombed and burned; are not being jailed or killed for apostasy, blasphemy, or proselytization. Quite the contrary, “members of the majority religion” are responsible for committing dozens of atrocities against Christian minorities every single month all throughout the Islamic world.
From a strictly humanitarian point of view, then—and humanitarianism is the chief reason being cited in accepting refugees—far from being lumped in with “members of the majority religion,” Christians should receive top priority simply because they are the most persecuted group, as repeated studies have shown.
At the hands of the Islamic State and in Syria alone, Christians have been repeatedly forced to renounce Christ or die; they have been enslaved and sold on sex slave markets; they have had more than 400 of their churches desecrated and destroyed.
If Christian minorities are true refugees, most Muslims are to a large extent economic migrants not fleeing real persecution but from safe locales such as Turkey. Moreover, roughly 97-98 percent of those being accepted as refugees into the U.S. are Sunni Muslims—the same sect that ISIS, which supposedly precipitated the refugee crisis, belongs to. And many of them, unsurprisingly, share the same vision of relentless jihad on the infidel—such as the “refugees” who murdered some 120 people in France, or the “refugees” who persecute Christian minorities in European camps and slaughter them in their beds, or the “refugees” who drown Christian migrants in the sea, or the ISIS-affiliated Sunni jihads who massacred over a dozen Americans at a Christmas party in San Bernardino.
In short, the refugee resettlement system egregiously discriminates against those who are most deserving of sanctuary and refugee status. Yet little is said or done by pro-resettlement U.S. Christian groups to address, much less correct, this problem.
If influential Christian organizations are ignoring the discrimination against or at least indifference to Christian refugees, the Obama administration’s policies should not be surprising. Aside from the fact that 98 percent of refugees being accepted into the U.S. are Sunni Muslims, and only two percent are Christian—a skewed ratio based on Syria’s demographics—consider:
When inviting scores of Muslim representatives, the State Department is in the habit of denying visas to solitary Christian representatives.
When a few persecuted Iraqi Christians crossed the border into the U.S., they were thrown in prison for several months and then sent back to the lion’s den.
When the Nigerian government waged a strong offensive against Boko Haram, killing some of its jihadi terrorists, Secretary of State John Kerry fumed and called for the “human rights” of the jihadis (who regularly slaughter and rape Christians and burn their churches). More recently, Kerry “urged Tajikistan not to go overboard in its crackdown on Islam.”
When persecuted Coptic Christians planned on joining Egypt’s anti-Muslim Brotherhood revolution of 2013, the U.S. said no.
When persecuted Iraqi and Syrian Christians asked for arms to join the opposition fighting ISIS, D.C. refused.
When working on releasing a statement accusing ISIS of committing genocide against religious minorities such as Yazidis — who are named and recognized in the statement — White House officials argued that Christians “do not appear to meet the high bar set out in the genocide treaty” and thus likely not be mentioned.
Days before the disparity against Christian refugees was revealed, President Obama lashed out against the idea of giving preference to Christian refugees, describing it as “shameful”: “That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion,” loftily admonished the president.
Such open hypocrisy can stand when influential Christian groups—they who are most responsible for speaking up for savagely persecuted Christian minorities—engage in it themselves.
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