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Experts Urge State Department Not to Exclude Christians from Middle Eastern Genocide Declaration

Strong case made in letter sent today to Secretary of State John Kerry

Contact: Andrew Walther, Knights of Columbus, 203-824-5412

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ -- Christians must not be excluded from a finding of genocide in the Middle East, according to a letter sent today to Secretary of State John Kerry. The letter was signed by Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus. It was also signed by religious leaders and experts in the fields of human rights, religious freedom and the Middle East.

The letter states: "The Genocide Convention defines genocide as killing and certain other acts 'committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.' We have extensive files supporting a finding that ISIS' treatment of Iraqi and Syrian Christians, as well as Yazidis and other vulnerable minorities, meets this definition.  They include evidence of ISIS assassinations of Church leaders; mass murders; torture, kidnapping for ransom in the Christian communities of Iraq and Syria; its sexual enslavement and systematic rape of Christian girls and women; its practices of forcible conversions to Islam; its destruction of churches, monasteries, cemeteries, and Christian artifacts; and its theft of lands and wealth from Christian clergy and laity alike.  We will also present ISIS' own, public statements taking 'credit' for mass murder of Christians, and expressing its intent to eliminate Christian communities from its 'Islamic State.' … ISIS genocidal campaign against Christians continues today, with hundreds of Christians remaining in ISIS captivity, and with summary executions, including by beheading and crucifixion, occurring as recently as only a few months ago."

The letter continues: "Pope Francis has called ISIS' crimes against Christians by their proper name: 'genocide.'  The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Christian leaders in the Middle East have done so as well.  We agree, and are hopeful that, once you have seen the evidence, you will too."

In addition to Mr. Anderson, signatories to the letter include:

    Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Ecumenical Director and Legate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern);

    Princeton University Professor Robert P. George, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; 

    Former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Mary Ann Glendon;

    Chaldean Catholic Bishop Sarhad Y. Jammo of San Diego;

    Baylor University historian Philip Jenkins, author of The Lost History of Christianity;

    Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress;

    Very Reverend James A. Kowalski, Dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine;

    Maronite Catholic Bishop Gregory Mansour of Brooklyn, N.Y.;

    R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary;

    Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom;

    Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, president of the Lantos Foundation; and

    Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C.

The Knights of Columbus has donated nearly $5 million to aid persecuted Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. More information is available at www.kofc.org or www.christiansatrisk.org and at Facebook and Twitter at @kofc.