April 30, 2010

Protect Iraqi Christians, church leaders urge

by Sara Levy

Church leaders in the US have written to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton urging her to work with authorities in Iraq to protect Christians and other persecuted minorities in the war torn country.

The letter from the National Council of Churches USA (NCCUSA), addressed to Clinton and US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, expressed concern about “the ongoing situation of violent attacks on minority groups in Iraq.”

The letter asked the secretaries to pressure Iraqi authorities into taking “all possible steps to prevent further incidents of this type.”

“Christians in Iraq have suffered more than a dozen violent deaths so far this year,” the letter reads.

“We fear that a growing climate of mistrust and animosity will further threaten the fragile Christian community.

“Our concern is now particularly acute because it is possible that tensions will increase as various political forces continue to vie for power following the recent elections.”

Iraqi Christians account for less than 3% of the country’s population, but now make up for more than half of its refugees.

American Church leaders who signed the letter included Rev Michael Kinnamon, NCCUSA general secretary and Rev Canon Peg Chemberlin, NCCUSA president.

Leaders from the Episcopal (Anglican) Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church, United Church of Christ, Reformed Church in America, Presbyterian Church (USA), and United Methodist Church also signed the letter.

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