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U.S. State Department is Denying Visas for Assyrian Christians Facing Death in Iraq, and Yet...

Isaiah Narciso : May 21, 2015  The Gospel Herald

"Donors in the private sector have offered complete funding for the airfare and the resettlement in the United States of these Iraqi Christians... but the State Department—while admitting 4,425 Somalis to the United States in just the first six months of 2015, and possibly even accepting members of ISIS through the Syrian and Iraqi refugee program, all paid for by tax dollars, [said] they 'would not support a special category to bring Assyrian Christians into the United States.'" –Faith J.H. McDonnell

airlift(Washington, DC)—The U.S. State Department may have sent a signal to an Anglican bishop in Iraq that despite persecution and harassment from the terror group known as ISIS, Christians in that country will not find any support from the United States government. (Photo via Gospel Herald)

According to Faith J.H. McDonnell of Philos Project, the Rt. Rev. Julian M. Dobbs, bishop of the Diocese of CANA East (Convocation of Anglicans in North America), revealed that part of U.S. foreign policy during an interaction with the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM). Dobbs made his case to the State Department on behalf of a group of Assyrian Christians who are desperate to leave northern Iraq.

"There is no way that Christians will be supported because of their religious affiliation," the State Department said.

McDonnell reported that the Assyrian Christians received both the permission and blessing from their own bishop to leave Iraq. Until recently, church leaders in the region have urged Christians to stay in the Middle East; now they have concluded that their chances of survival are much better if they left.

"Christianity in Iraq is going through one of its worst and hardest stages of its long history, which dates back to the first century," Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil said. "Throughout all these long centuries, we have experienced many hardships and persecutions, offering caravans of martyrs. Yet 2014 brought the worst acts of genocide against us in our history."

Warda added that "Christianity as a religion and as a culture from Mesopotamia [ancient Iraq]" now faced "extinction" due to the ongoing threat posed by ISIS.

McDonnell elaborated on the plight of Christians and other minorities in the region since ISIS took over the Iraqi city of Mosul in June 2014.

"Christians, Yazidis, Mandeans and others were targeted for destruction, and within just the first week of ISIS' occupation, more than 500,000 people fled the city," McDonnell wrote. "The homes of Christians were marked with the Arabic letter 'nun,' standing for Nazarene. Christians were threatened with death if they did not convert to Islam, pay jizya and live as a subjected people—'dhimmi'—or flee immediately."

airliftAccording to McDonnell, Christians have even been threatened by some Muslims in the refugee camps run by the UN Refugee Agency, or UNHCR. However, the State Department has refused to resettle affected Assyrian Christians in the United States. (Photo via Gospel Herald)

"Donors in the private sector have offered complete funding for the airfare and the resettlement in the United States of these Iraqi Christians that are sleeping in public buildings, on school floors, or worse," McDonnell wrote. "But the State Department—while admitting 4,425 Somalis to the United States in just the first six months of 2015, and possibly even accepting members of ISIS through the Syrian and Iraqi refugee program, all paid for by tax dollars, told Dobbs that they 'would not support a special category to bring Assyrian Christians into the United States.'"

McDonnell contended that the United States government made it clear religious affiliation does not mean support for Christians in the region in the form of asylum.

"The State Department, the wider administration, some in Congress and much of the media and other liberal elites insist that Christians cannot be given preferential treatment," McDonnell wrote. "Even within the churches, some Christians are so afraid of appearing to give preferential treatment to their fellow Christians that they are reluctant to plead the case of their Iraqi and Syrian brothers and sisters."

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