A growing number of American evangelicals are increasingly vocal about Christian genocide in the Middle East, as well as the persecution of Christians there. Add to the Middle East, Nigeria and South Sudan.
Others have also voiced concern.
The Baptist World Alliance’s July 2016 resolution spoke to Nigeria’s Boko Haram having “intentionally targeted” people of faith and worship houses of both Christians and Muslims.
Secretary of State John Kerry said in March about ISIS (also known as Daesh): “We know that in Mosul, Qaraqosh and elsewhere, Daesh has executed Christians solely because of their faith; that it executed 49 Coptic and Ethiopian Christians in Libya; and that it has also forced Christian women and girls into sexual slavery.”
Kerry said, “Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yezidis, Christians and Shia Muslims.”
Six months later, at an In Defense of Christians conference, human rights advocates said that not enough was being done to address the genocide.
“Perhaps the great moral challenge of our time right now,” said Katrina Lantos Swett, president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, about the crisis. “I am baffled and heartbroken, as the daughter of Holocaust survivors, at how it is possible for the West to seem so, so blind, willfully blind, or even worse, aware but relatively disinterested in what is unfolding in our time, on our watch, in our purview of being able to act.”
Genocide is painfully frequent, but addressed infrequently in churches – and slowly by nations and international organizations.
One of the defining characteristics of genocide is targeting a specific group of people based on their religion, race, ethnicity, ideology. Examples include the Jews in Europe, Igbos in Nigeria, Muslims in Bosnia, and Tutsis in Rwanda.
We hope that our new documentary, “The Disturbances,” will increase the awareness in churches about genocide and encourage churches to be “watchmen on the gate.”
Our feature-length film is about what missionaries and Nigerian pastors did to save lives in 1966 when one tribe killed some 30,000 members of another tribe. This mostly untold and unknown story is getting its due after 50 years.
Two experiences at our film screenings at Christ Church Nashville and San Antonio’s Trinity Baptist Church convicted me that EthicsDaily.com, Baptists and evangelicals must collaborate with another house of faith.
Many Baptist and other evangelical churches have an untapped, rich educational resource in their communities that will deepen the understanding of genocide and help to forge the public will to prevent genocide.
Speaking after the viewing at Trinity, invited panelist Ellen Ollervidez, director of San Antonio’s Holocaust Memorial Museum, read the list of the eight stages of genocide.
The eight stages are classification, symbolization, dehumanization, organization, polarization, preparation, extermination and denial.
Ollervidez shared what the museum did offering educational tours, educating public school children and providing continued professional education to teachers that are certified by the Texas Education Agency. She also spoke of her involvement with a local interfaith group.
We are working on having a panelist at our Sept. 28 screening at the University School of Nashville be someone with expertise on the Holocaust.
Through collaboration with the Jewish community, Baptists and evangelicals may perhaps make progress preventing future genocides.
Consider using “The Disturbances” in your church or on your college campus.
Enrich the experience by inviting representatives from local Holocaust museums and organizations to join the discussion.
We are stronger together than apart, and more likely to get needed governmental action.
Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics. Follow him on Twitter at RobertParham1 and friend him on Facebook.