We don’t take pride in being right in a situation like this, but we warned months ago that Christianity in Iraq was finished. Lots of people did not want to believe us, but based on our work in Muslim nations directly helping Christians escape persecution from Muslims, we said that there is veritably impossible for Christianity in Iraq to rebuild to any semblance from what it was before, and that even if it were to be rebuilt, the community would be in immediate danger of annihilation by Turkey as part of their quest to revive the Ottoman Empire. We warned that right now, the most charitable act is to help as many Christians as possible leave and find a new life before Turkey invades and does what ISIS did all over again to the survivors.
Aid To The Church In Need is a major Catholic charity that helps Christians around the world. In a recent story, they have noted that because of the huge decline in population, inability to rebuild, elderly ages of the survivors, and the unwillingness of those who fled to return, that barring a miracle, Christianity in Iraq is finished according to a recent report:
Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need has warned that unless world leaders start taking action, the recent defeats suffered by the Islamic State terror group in Iraq and Syria might not be enough to save the Christian population in the region from being eradicated.
“We have seen drastic reductions in the Christian populations in many nations in the Middle East. Iraq might very well have lost 80 percent of their native Christian people,” Edward Clancy, ACNUSA director of outreach, told The Christian Post in an email interview on Wednesday. “Syria might have lost 50 percent. This is compounded by the fact that Christian families have not been secure enough to have many children. The loss of population and the very low birth rate will put great pressure on the Christian communities.”
He warned that Christians will be “hard pressed to survive when they are 2 percent or 1 percent and become an aging population.”
“If we do not help these ancient Christian communities, ISIS might very well have lost the battles but won the war.”
Under a new U.S. strategy, IS has suffered heavy losses recently and has been driven out of a number of key cities it once held, most recently in Raqqa in Syria, which was the terror group’s de facto capital.
As ACN’s “Persecuted and Forgotten? 2015–’17” report released last week noted, the persecution of Christians has grown and reached its highest ever levels in the past couple of years, with the eradication of Christians in the Middle East highlighted as a major concern.
The report said that hope has risen with stories of Christian families returning to their homes in the Nineveh Plains as IS continues to be driven out of Iraq, but the future of the faithful in the region remains very much uncertain.
Clancy told CP: “Our solace is knowing that whenever Christians have faced terrible odds, great miracles have happened. Christianity has survived and endured, but we needn’t wait for miracles. We can act. We can help. We should do both.”
Some church leaders in the Middle East expressed in the report that they feel forgotten by the international community. ACNUSA’s director of outreach argued that many in the West do take the Church and Christian communities for granted.
“Even when Christians are in the minority, they consistently show themselves to be a positive force in those communities. For example, throughout the Middle East and around the world, Christians provide opportunities for better education for Christians and non-Christians alike. This is because it is part of the witness of the Gospel,” Clancy continued.
“Western leaders need to understand that these Christian communities are key for peaceful coexistence among Yazidi, Sunni, Shia and Kurds in Iraq and will be likewise in Syria among the different ethnic and religious groups.”
He urged Western governments and world leaders to offer more help to families trying to resettle back in their homelands.
“They need our help. It is more than just guaranteeing property rights for returning families. The security of their communities is a major issue. It is about leaders not being afraid to say that these Christians belong in their ancestral towns and that they deserve to be supported and protected,” he said.
“Aid to the Church in Need is committed to insisting on that vital message. We will continue to be a voice for the voiceless.”
Clancy said he’s also concerned that rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea could lead to Christians suffering harsher punishments in that country.
Christians in North Korea are already some of the most persecuted people in the world, the ACN report noted, and Clancy said that fears for their well-being are growing as the U.N. increases sanctions against Kim Jong Un.
“The stories of abuse, imprisonment, and denial of freedoms for Christians are constant. The regime is one of the harshest in human history,” he noted.
“While it is hard to believe it might get any worse, it could very well happen that Christians will be targeted even more severely because of their perceived allegiance to Western thinking.” (source)
We have been warning consistently that Christians in Iraq and the Middle East are in grave danger. There is no way around the uncomfortable facts of what have happened. However, one cannot change the events of the past, and it is not helpful to waste time thinking about what could have been or what might become “if” change happens at an undefined future point. The situation of today is shaped by the past, but the decisions of today are also that which makes the future, and the fact is that there is no future for Christian in the current situation in Iraq. There might be at a later point, but right now the concern of the Christians must be the survival of those who are left, especially in light of the situation with Turkey. The most merciful thing that can be done is to get the Christians who are left to a place of safety where they can survive, re-grow, and by God’s grace once again bring the light of Faith back to their ancestral homelands.