So, last week the Obama administration endorsed redefining the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in a way that would give churches, mosques, and Orthodox synagogues the same status under federal law as racist organizations. Last month, Hillary Clinton said that passing the so-called Equality Act would be her “highest priority.”
I get that. If you believe that homosexuality = race, then it makes sense that you would try to write LGBT into the Civil Rights Act. But you cannot hide from the implications of that move — that is, what it means for traditional Christians, and how this administration, and a Hillary Clinton administration, would be likely to view traditional religious believers.
Michael Isikoff of Newsweek reports that the Obama administration will likely soon designate Iraq’s Yazidi minority victims of “genocide” at the hands of ISIS. Excerpt:
The action, which sources say could be announced by Secretary of State John Kerry in the next few weeks, has been pushed by top officials at the human rights and religious freedom offices at the State Department.
It has also been prodded by a report to be released today by the U.S. Holocaust Museum. The report documents horrific mass killings and sexual slavery targeting the small Yazidi community, as well as crimes against other ethnic minorities, by IS forces who swept through Northern Iraq last year.
“What we found is there was a deliberate attempt by the forces of the Islamic State to not only ethnically cleanse the Yazidi population [forcibly remove them from their lands] but to exterminate them,” said Cameron Hudson, the director of the museum’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide, which commissioned the report.
The Yazidi are believers in a syncretic religion, and called “devil worshipers” by ISIS. There can be no question that they are targeted for genocidal extermination by ISIS. Here, from the US Holocaust Museum’s report, is why the museum’s investigators concluded that the Yazidi alone are being singled out for genocide:
IS specifically notes that its treatment of the Yezidis differs from its treatment of ahl al kitab, the “people of the book,” Christians and Jews, who had the option of paying the jizya (tax) to avoid conversion or death. By refusing Yezidis any option to avoid death or forced conversion, IS demonstrates that its actions were calculated with the intent of destroying the community and thereby different from its attacks against other minorities, which were part of a campaign of ethnic cleansing.
Targeting the largest population centers of Yezidi people, killing men, kidnapping and enslaving women and children, and destroying religious shrines suggests a pattern from which the intent to destroy a religious group can be further inferred.
It’s important to note here that the Holocaust Museum does not even consider Jews who might be in ISIS’s path to be genocide victims — this, because the investigators appear to be using a very strict standard. There is nothing at all the Yazidi can do to escape death or forced conversion, say museum investigators, therefore they are victims of genocide.
I can see the legalistic point here, but I side with Nina Shea, who says this is a distinction with very little real-world difference:
A genocide designation would have significant policy implications for American efforts to restore property and lands taken from the minority groups and for offers of aid, asylum, and other protections to such victims. Worse, it would mean that, under the Genocide Convention, the United States and other governments would not be bound to act to suppress or even prevent the genocide of these Christians.
Christians have been executed by the thousands. Christian women and girls are vulnerable to sexual enslavement. Many of their clergy have been assassinated and their churches and ancient monasteries demolished or desecrated. They have been systematically stripped of all their wealth, and those too elderly or sick to flee ISIS-controlled territory have been forcibly converted to Islam or killed, such as an 80-year-old woman who was burned to death for refusing to abide by ISIS religious rules. Pope Francis pronounced their suffering “genocide” in July. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and a broad array of other churches have done so as well. Analysis from an office of the Holocaust Museum apparently relied on by the State Department asserts that ISIS protects Christians in exchange for jizya, an Islamic tax for “People of the Book,” but the assertion is simply not grounded in fact.
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nebraska), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), and three other House members have introduced a bipartisan resolution expressing the sense of Congress that what is happening to Christians, Yazidis, and other minority groups under ISIS assault amounts to genocide:
“Christianity in the Middle East is shattered,” said Fortenberry, co-chair of the Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus. “The ancient faith tradition lies beaten, broken, and dying. Yet Christians in Iraq and Syria are hanging on in the face of the Islamic State’s barbarous onslaught. This is genocide. The international community must confront the scandalous silence about their plight. Christians, Yezidis, and other religious minorities have every right to remain in their ancestral homelands.”
I believe that the Obama State Department should designate the Yazidis as victims of genocide. But it should also do the same to Christians. Nina Shea says that if Isikoff’s report is correct, then State’s turning a blind eye to the extermination of Christianity in the Near East “would reflect a familiar pattern within the administration of a politically correct bias that views Christians — even non-Western congregations such as those in Iraq and Syria — never as victims but always as Inquisition-style oppressors.”
Is there a pattern here with this administration, and with the national Democrats in general (Rep. Anna Eshoo and presidential candidate Martin O’Malley being two laudable exceptions)? Here in Louisiana, chances are we are going to elect this weekend John Bel Edwards, a pro-life, pro-gun Catholic Democrat, as our next governor — a turn of events that has shocked veteran political watchers, who assumed that US Sen. David Vitter, the Republican, was unbeatable. If the vote turns out like the polls suggest it will, it tells us that people in a state as conservative as Louisiana will vote Democratic if you give them the right candidate. This administration may be able to justify, from a very narrow legalistic perspective, leaving the Christians off the genocide list, but when you think about what it’s doing to the Little Sisters of the Poor, and the administration’s opinion that traditional Christians are the moral equivalent of racists, an unwillingness (if it comes to that) to put the murdered, raped, enslaved Christians of the Near East on the genocide list, despite what they have endured and do endure every day, suggests a pattern. I doubt there is a bit of difference between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the how-do-we-treat-non-progressive-Christians. In fact, remember what Hillary said earlier this year at a forum in Manhattan, talking about women’s access to contraception and abortion?:
“Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will,” she explained. “And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”
With leadership like that, the Democrats are not a party traditional Christians can trust to be in charge of the White House. I was so alienated from the GOP in 2008 and 2012 that I voted for a write-in candidate (Wendell Berry) in ’08 and didn’t vote for president in ’12. Because of the mounting threats to religious liberty from the Democratic Party at the national level, and their insensitivity to Christian concerns (such as ISIS-led genocide), it’s much harder to justify sitting out the 2016 race. Conservative Christian turnout in 2016 is going to be massive.