As violence in the Middle East flares up, the story of Iraqi Christians suffering from brutal attacks at the hands of ISIS remains less visible in the media. However, as ISIS threatens to wipe out the Christian minority in Iraq, Christian leaders like the Rev. Michael Rogers, S.J. are calling for the Christian community to speak out and put pressure on lawmakers to intervene:
Despite a modest Internet uptick due to social media, no one in the mainstream media is adequately covering this story. The stakes are high, dire, and apply to all of humanity. This is a news story which far supersedes the 75th anniversary of Batman, the advent of the iPhone 6, or anything that Kim and Kanye are up to, and yet no one is hearing enough about it. The advance of ISIS in Syria and Iraq has all but wiped out some of the most ancient Christian communities. Some of the most important early Christian manuscripts which resided in monasteries there have been burned. There are pictures of people being crucified. Priests who have been encouraging dialogue and peace for years in the region have been dragged from their homes, shot, and killed. There is more than one account of nuns being raped. Now the arabic letter “nuun,” which in this case stands for Nazarene, is scribbled across the doors of the Christian minority who are then driven from their homes…
The community being killed is the community that still speaks Aramaic, the common everyday language of Jesus. As a person who describes themselves as Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, a general theist, Atheist, “spiritual but not religious,” or as someone who has given no thought to religion at all, this should trouble you profoundly. If we lose this language we lose the language of a man whom everyone must acknowledge, believer or not, that has profoundly influenced and shaped western culture, and therefore our global culture as well. We need this language to survive, we need to keep studying it, understanding it, and learning from it if we ever wish to understand so much of what our emerging global reality is based in, regardless of any distaste that we might have for western hegemony.
The community being destroyed holds ancient texts the depths of which we are just beginning to understand, many of which are or have been destroyed. I have good friends who are scholars of the early Christian Church who recount to me, with horror, the incredible documents which have been destroyed. Whether you are a liberal Catholic charging the gates of Fort Benning every November, or a member of the Southern Baptist Convention lining the pockets of Ted Cruz for the next election, this should cry to heaven for redress in your mind. We Christians are losing core documents of our early faith and documents that are in some cases very close to scripture. We are losing some documents that we have yet to fully understand. We are losing a connection to the early Church community. We are losing a connection to the earthly life of Christ himself. For a Christian, of any denomination, acting on behalf of the poor and suffering of Syria and Iraq is not only a part of the obvious obligation for the love of the least, poorest, and most vulnerable that we find in Matthew 25, its a obvious obligation for the love of Christ himself.
For the whole piece from Rev. Rogers, please visit the Huffington Post religion page here.