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The Senate Must Act Now to Save Christianity in Iraq
By Carl Anderson

( Getty)
Whether Christianity and pluralism survive in the Middle East, or disappear forever, may well lie in the hands of the U.S. Senate.

Earlier this summer, the House unanimously passed HR 390, which would direct American aid to the minority communities -- including Christians -- targeted by ISIS for genocide. The bi-partisan bill was based in part on my testimony, and that of others, on Capitol Hill last year and would help ensure that money flows to minority religious communities who have too often been overlooked by American aid.

But the Senate still has not acted. With each passing day, these communities become smaller, more in danger of reaching a tipping point of no return.

As a result of the inaction, despite the president's promises of support for these communities, and statutory obligations included by Congress in May in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, aid to these communities has still not been forthcoming in any meaningful fashion.

Some may see the ISIS problem as something behind us. Having lost Mosul, and with Raqqa nearly liberated, there are fewer and fewer ways for ISIS to work its will or achieve its stated goals.

But their goal of eliminating Christians and other minorities from countries like Iraq remains within reach, helped along by an Obama-era policy that has continued even now to guide American government aid on the basis of individual need, without regard to the needs of fragile -- nearly eliminated -- minority groups.

Along with the lack of a full time coordinator on this issue within the administration, Senate inaction means that the odds go up that ISIS' goals of genocide and religious cleansing will succeed. Senate inaction means that the odds go up that ISIS' goals of genocide and religious cleansing will succeed.

To be clear, Trump administration officials have shown a real willingness to assist, but the bureaucratic reality, seemingly on autopilot, has made actualizing this quite complicated.

In the Consolidated Appropriations Act, aid to the communities that faced ISIS genocide is made statutory, true. But it is by no means the central theme of that act, and the mechanism for assisting these groups is left undefined. As such, career agency bureaucrats have gone so far to state recently that internal agency regulations outweighs any statutory considerations.

HR 390 is entirely about this issue, and makes crystal clear that American government assistance should flow not only to communities that faced genocide, but through those caring for them, including faith-based groups, such as local churches, dioceses, etc.

But their goal of eliminating Christians and other minorities from countries like Iraq remains within reach, helped along by an Obama-era policy that has continued even now to guide American government aid on the basis of individual need, without regard to the needs of fragile -- nearly eliminated -- minority groups.

Along with the lack of a full time coordinator on this issue within the administration, Senate inaction means that the odds go up that ISIS' goals of genocide and religious cleansing will succeed. Senate inaction means that the odds go up that ISIS' goals of genocide and religious cleansing will succeed.

To be clear, Trump administration officials have shown a real willingness to assist, but the bureaucratic reality, seemingly on autopilot, has made actualizing this quite complicated.

In the Consolidated Appropriations Act, aid to the communities that faced ISIS genocide is made statutory, true. But it is by no means the central theme of that act, and the mechanism for assisting these groups is left undefined. As such, career agency bureaucrats have gone so far to state recently that internal agency regulations outweighs any statutory considerations.

HR 390 is entirely about this issue, and makes crystal clear that American government assistance should flow not only to communities that faced genocide, but through those caring for them, including faith-based groups, such as local churches, dioceses, etc.

Carl Anderson is CEO of the Knights of Columbus, the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organization, and a New York Times bestselling author.


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