Aramean advocate and author Johny Messo, who presides over the World Council of Arameans, recently wrote that the destruction of Christian Syrians has been a disastrous consequence of failed U.S. policies. Two presidents in particular, he writes, “opened the gates of hell and unleashed demons on Syria.”
He points not only to the exodus of Christians but also to their near annihilation:
While President George W. Bush may have opened the gates of hell for Iraq’s Christians, President Obama not only widened them, but unleashed the demons on Syria. The following give some idea of this downward spiral:
Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, after earlier underreported exoduses of Christians from the country, there were 1.4 million Christians in Iraq, making up 5.4% of its overall population of 26 million. Today, 15 years later, Iraq’s Christian population stands at less than 250,000, a drop of 82%, and a mere 0.65% of Iraq’s general and much larger population of 38 million.
In 2011, there were 1.8 – 2 million Christians in Syria, who made up 8% of the country’s total population of 23 million. Today, less than seven years later, no more than 500,000 Christians, out of a total population of 18.2 million can be found in their war-torn homeland — a drop of more than 72%.
Ancient Christians communities have existed throughout Egypt, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey. Aramaic-speaking churches include the Syriac Orthodox, Syriac Catholics, Chaldeans, Nestorians (also known as Assyrians), Maronites, Melkite Orthodox and Melkite Catholics.
Last October Vice President Pence committed to help Christians being persecuted and forced into destitution at a conference in Washington, D.C.: “In Defense of Christians.” Pence pledged, “from this day forward, America will provide support directly to persecuted [Christian] communities through USAID.”
Messo points out a poignant reality that I address in my forthcoming book series about Christianity and Islam: Christians are the largest religious group in the world and yet they are the most persecuted group in the world, and lack a political voice. He clarifies this irony:
America was founded on Judeo-Christian values. Almost all U.S. presidents, including Trump, and members of Congress, have identified themselves as Christian. Yet Christians, members of the largest religion in the world, have become the most persecuted faith group but lack a political voice. In addition, as a result of failed U.S. foreign policy, Christians have vanished in record numbers from the lands where the traditional and still main religion of America (and Europe) was born. In view of its Christian roots and identity, America has a moral obligation to the cradle of Christianity from becoming “Christenrein” (“free of Christians”).
Christians in America have a great responsibility and opportunity to help their brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering because of failed American foreign policies and Islamic persecution.