Church leaders push US government on minority and Christian rights in Iraq

Church leaders push US government on minority and Christian rights in Iraq

By staff writers
29 Apr 2010

Twenty-one top Christian leaders in the USA have signed letters to senior government officials, urging that they raise concerns for the protection of minority groups in Iraq, including Christians.

The letters to the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton and the Secretary of Defence, Robert M. Gates, were sent on 26 April 2010 by leaders of the National Council of Churches USA (NCCUSA) on behalf of a range of religious leaders.

The faith leaders referred to “the ongoing situation of violent attacks on minority groups in Iraq, including the Christian community.”

They declare: “We strongly request that you raise this concern with the government of Iraq, provincial authorities and the leadership of the coalition forces, urging them to take all possible steps to prevent further incidents of this type.”

The letters specifically ask Clinton and Gates to work “directly and with Iraqis” to protect minority groups, including Christians in Mosul and other parts of Iraq; to extend necessary humanitarian aid to displaced families; and encourage the preservation of religious and ethnic diversity in Iraq.

They declare: “Christians in Iraq have suffered more than a dozen violent deaths so far this year, including a three-year-old child in Mosul who died on March 27 after a bomb, placed next to his family’s home, exploded,” the religious leaders wrote. “As you know, thousands of Christians have been forced to flee their homes because of their fear of violence.”

The leaders say their concern is heightened because of possible rising tensions as political forces vie for power following recent elections. They also said they feared “that a growing climate of mistrust and animosity will further threaten the fragile Christian community.”

Among those who have signed the letters are the Rev Michael Kinnamon, NCCUSA general secretary and the Rev Canon Peg Chemberlin, NCCUSA president; together with Episcopal (Anglican), Evangelical Lutheran, United Church of Christ, Reformed Church in America, Presbyterian Church (USA), and United Methodist leaders.

Copies of the National Council of Churches USA letters are available at: http://www.ncccusa.org/news/100427iraqchristians.html

[Ekk/3]

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