Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Religious Freedom: Iraq is a "Country of Particular Concern"

Today the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom designated Iraq was a Country of Particular Concern" (CPC) because of the continuing persecution of religious minorities, particularly Christians. The White House had lobbied the Commissioners intensely not to give the CPC designation to Iraq and won over some GOP appointees including Dr. Richard Land who voted against CPC status. The majority carried the day and the continued persecution of Christians and other minorities was spotlighted in a USIRF news conference on December 16, 2008. Click here to read more about the press conference and the report of the USCIRF.

Just in: The CNS news service has an extremely good report on the press conference with quotes by Congressman Frank Wolf concerning the poor handling of minority repression in Iraq.

Please read the comment below by Father Keith Roderick!

Help Iraqi Christian Refugees at Facebook.com

We are now a part of the Facebook.com "causes" network and as of today have 59 friends. We need just 41 more "friends" to become an official club. Please join the Iraqi Christian Refugee "cause" at Facebook.com. Click here to view our cause page at Facebook.com

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Read Murray's Front Page Magazine Interview

FRONT PAGE MAGAZINE ON IRAQI CHRISTIANS - In September I was interviewed in depth by Front Page Magazine on the Iraqi Christian Refugee situation. In that interview I placed most of the blame where it belongs, on Secretary of State Rice. Click here for the compete text of the interview.

DON'T FORGET IRAQI CHRISTIANS - Tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians are still refugees and still need our help. Donate today!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Iraqi Christians and Evangelicals in Jordan

There are some churches, such as the Chaldean Catholic church and the Orthodox Church, that can operate openly in Jordan and assist Iraqi Christian refugees. This does not mean that they have the same liberties as they would in a nation such as the United States. Unlike the evangelical efforts, some of the assistance to Iraqi Christians by the Catholic and Orthodox churches can be learned about online. However, the Jordanian government remains wary of evangelical Christians and last year expelled numerous pastors and missionaries who were not Jordanian citizens. Jordan has also forbidden evangelicals from renting hotels and convention centers for meetings. This may be out of fear of the evangelical movement on the part of the government. It could also indicate that the mainline churches fear the evangelical movement and have asked the king to suppress them. Keep in mind how the Pharisees depended upon Roman authorities to deal with Jesus.

One evangelical church that does thrive openly in Jordan is the Christian Missionary Alliance Church which was founded in Jerusalem in 1899. It is now headquartered in Amman, Jordan with seven churches in that nation and two in the West Bank. Yousef Hashweh is the overseer of the nine CMA churches. In Amman the church owns two buildings in a central location, a church and a community center. The community center has a coffee shop on the first floor and a medical clinic on the second floor in addition to church offices and a recording studio on upper floors. The medical clinic assists some 170 a week including Iraqi refugees and some Muslims. There is a genuine outreach at this church. The church building is used one day a week for services with Iraqis and another day a week for Filipinos who work in Jordan, in addition to Sunday services. The church is a blessing to the community. Don’t look for an Internet site because the church does not maintain one despite its size and outreach. The church is deserving of support. The Religious Freedom Coalition will begin regular support of the outreach of the CMA church this year.

There are several Christian book stores in Jordan and unlike in other Muslim nations, Bibles can be distributed. However, it is against the law to attempt to convert a Muslim in Jordan just as it is in all Islamic nations. Morocco has perhaps the most liberal interpretation of this type of law, indicating that it does not apply to “equals.” It appears this may be the case to some extent in Jordan as well. Attempting to tell a person of less education or a child about the Lord would probably be prosecuted by the authorities, while witnessing to a fellow college graduate would not. Still, the law is on the books.

The influx of Iraqi refugees has made the situation of the church in Jordan more tenuous. Churches that attempted to set up schools for the Iraqis had those schools shut down. The government said the children could attend public schools or private schools not specifically set up for Iraqis. However, virtually every Iraqi is in Jordan illegally and the families fear signing their children up for the school. They don’t want the government to know where they live.

Because they are forbidden to work, Iraqis need outside assistance. Many sold their homes far below value before leaving and their funds were quickly exhausted. Most can never go back.

Chickens or Jobs for Iraqis?

The Barnabas Fund is very proud of the fact that they provided chicks to Iraqi refugees to raise in areas of the Nineveh Plans in Iraq. I am sure you can read about it at their Internet site as they are very proud of their grant. Most of the Iraqis who have fled their homes in Iraq are educated English speaking middle class people. They owned stores and worked at high tech jobs. Now NGOs such as the Barnabas Fund are giving them chickens to raise and bragging about it. Faced with raising chickens for a living many more of the Iraqis are becoming discouraged and trying to flee to Jordan. Both Jordan and Syria have responded by almost totally closing their borders.

The pain of these people will stop only when the government of the United States admits to its responsibility and assists them to resettle. Our government just will not take on this responsibility and still sends all refugees to the UNHCR. The Administration’s policy is that Christians face no persecution in Iraq, that their pain and suffering is caused by criminal gangs. This attitude must change.

William J. Murray, Chairman – Religious Freedom Coalition

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PO Box 77511, Washington, DC 20013 * (202) 543-0300

Friday, July 11, 2008

RFC AID FOR IRAQI CHRISTIANS

RFC AID FOR IRAQI CHRISTIANS- As mentioned above I am currently in Amman, Jordan. On Thursday the 10th I delivered more than $24,000 of medical supplies to be dispensed by a Christian medical mission in Jordan to Iraqi refugees. The 30 Kilos (66 pounds) of supplies included bulk bottles of antibiotics such as amoxicillin, norfloxacin, and ciprofloxacin. Other drugs for the treatment of intestinal and stomach disorders and other illnesses common to the Middle East were also delivered.

The overwhelming majority of Christians who have fled Iraq are in urban areas, mostly in Amman, living in cramped conditions. Often several middle class Christian families have been forced to take refuge in a single apartment. As they are "guests" in Jordan they are not allowed to work and have no income. Their presence here is tenuous and the Jordanian government can deport them back to Iraq at anytime. The Bush Administration has promised to take in 12,000 Iraqi refugees by September, but so far has only cleared just over 5,000. Because of the politically correct nature of our State Department many of those are Muslims who did not face nearly the level of persecution faced by Christians.

I met one of the two Christian families who were just accepted by the State Department as "refugees" and they can depart Jordan at any time. The two families were part of a group of 30; the other 28 families were Muslim, mostly Shiites with ties to Iran.

Today (Friday the 11th) I also toured the facility used for food distribution to Iraqi Christian refugees and visited a Christian children's summer camp. The camp was a wonderful experience that I don't feel comfortable sharing. Should its location be posted or pictures of the children shown on the Internet it could cause problems for their families in a predominantly Muslim nation despite the official positions of the King.


William J. Murray, Chairman, Religious Freedom Coalition video

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bush: Burkas OK for Christian Women

Bush OK with Hajab for Christian women BUSH: BURKAS OK FOR CHRISTIAN WOMEN- The official policy of President George W. Bush's administration is that forcing a Christian woman to wear a burka or hijab in public is not religious persecution because nothing in Christian doctrine forbids wearing them. It is also the official policy of the Administration that there is no religious persecution of Christians in Iraq and that the 41 churches destroyed since the war began and the church bombings this past Christmas were done by "criminal elements." The US Commission on International Religious Freedom is considering designating Iraq as a "CPC" or Country of Particular Concern. The Bush Administration is in a state of panic over this possibility and is exerting extreme political pressure to avert this action. As a result, I doubt that CPC status will be issued for Iraq. (This information is a first hand report from conversations with State Department officials.) More at www.rfcnet.org