Lead SBC Ethicist Commends Airstrikes, Aid; Calls for Christians to ‘Pray Fervently’ for Iraqis

Displaced families from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence, walk on the outskirts of Sinjar, west of Mosul, August 5, 2014 (Stringer/Reuters)
Displaced families from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence, walk on the outskirts of Sinjar, west of Mosul, August 5, 2014 (Stringer/Reuters)

The Southern Baptist Convention’s lead ethicist has commended President Obama’s authorization of targeted airstrikes and humanitarian aid to assist members of Iraqi religious minorities threatened by Islamic militants.

United States military attacks since the president’s Aug. 7 authorization reportedly have helped repel advances by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the northern part of the Middle Eastern country.

Obama also took action Aug. 8 that advocates of global religious freedom had said would help in Iraq. He signed into law the Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act, which authorizes the president to appoint a special envoy for the promotion of religious liberty in Iraq and other countries in the region.

After Obama’s Aug. 7 announcement, Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said Obama “is right to take action to protect religious minorities, including Christians, in Iraq from ISIS.”

“He has my prayers,” Moore said of the president in an Aug. 8 written statement. “Those families stranded on a mountaintop, fleeing torture, rape and beheading, deserve justice and compassion.

“As Christians, we should pray for the president and our military leaders to wisely administer the sword of justice (Romans 13:1-3),” Moore said. “As part of the global body of Christ, we must also pray fervently for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Iraq and across the Middle East (Hebrews 13:3).”

Obama authorized the actions as ISIS’ campaign of terror spread further in northern Iraq. The Sunni Muslim militants had already emptied Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, of Christians before taking its bloody offensive to other cities, sending many people into exile. Their advance on Sinjar resulted in as many as 50,000 people fleeing for safety to the Sinjar Mountains. Most were Yazidis, who make up a minority religious sect, but some reportedly were Christians. The terrorists executed some Yazidis and enslaved some Yazidi women, according to reports.

In announcing his action, Obama said the authorization of the two operations was to avert “a potential act of genocide.” He also pointed to ISIS’ advance toward the city of Erbil as a reason. Erbil is a home to U.S. diplomats and civilians who work at the consulate, as well as American military advisers.

“When we face a situation like we do on that mountain — with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale, when we have a mandate to help — in this case, a request from the Iraqi government — and when we have the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre, then I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye,” the president said Aug. 7. “We can act, carefully and responsibly, to prevent a potential act of genocide. That’s what we’re doing on that mountain.”

He added, “Earlier this week, one Iraqi in the area cried to the world, ‘There is no one coming to help.’ Well today, America is coming to help.”

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Tom Strode

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