Christ Almighty! US Foreign Policy vs. Middle Eastern Christianity

The US State Department has quietly ceased cataloging violations of religious freedom in its “Country Reports on Human Rights.” Of course, it’s just a coincidence that this comes at a time when Washington is allying with radical Islamists in Libya, Syria, and Iraq. As CNS reports:

The U.S. State Department removed the sections covering religious freedom from the Country Reports on Human Rights that it released on May 24, three months past the statutory deadline Congress set for the release of these reports.

The new human rights reports—purged of the sections that discuss the status of religious freedom in each of the countries covered—are also the human rights reports that include the period that covered the Arab Spring and its aftermath.

Thus, the reports do not provide in-depth coverage of what has happened to Christians and other religious minorities in predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East that saw the rise of revolutionary movements in 2011 in which Islamist forces played an instrumental role.

For the first time ever, the State Department simply eliminated the section of religious freedom in its reports covering 2011 and instead referred the public to the 2010 International Religious Freedom Report — a full two years behind the times — or to the annual report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which was released last September and covers events in 2010 but not 2011.”

Part of the reason could be that the state of religious freedom in the US isn’t all that great since the Obama administration tried to force Catholic institutions — hospitals, clinics, etc. — to provide the “full-range” of contraceptive services, including abortion, to their employees. Then there’s the Chick-fil-a controversy, where the city governments of Chicago, New York, and San Francisco want to punish the company whose CEO opposes gay marriage on religious grounds.

Hostility to organized religion — unless you’re a Unitarian, or one of these guys — has long been a feature of contemporary American liberalism, but the kind of radical anti-clericalism that has roiled Europe (and Mexico) hasn’t reared its ugly head in this country until now. The Catholic Church is a favorite anti-clericalist target, but the State Department isn’t discriminating on sectarian grounds: they’ve simply eliminated accounts of all anti-Christian measures taken by foreign governments from their Country Reports.

This makes sense, if you think about it: after all, if you’re allying with radical Islamists in order to overthrow the government of Syria — which has long been a bulwark against Islamic jihadists in the Middle East — then official propaganda has got to reflect this strategy.

In Egypt, where we’re trying to retain some influence in the wake of longtime ally Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, the Islamists have gone on a rampage, burning Coptic Christian churches, murdering churchgoers, and making it impossible for a public Christian presence to exist alongside the Muslim majority. As the Muslim Brotherhood takes the presidency and the parliament, with US support, the country’s Christians have plenty of reason to worry — or emigrate.

In Libya, where a supposedly “secular” party won a plurality in the elections after US-backed rebels took power, one of their first public pronouncements was to disavow the secular label — and reinstate polygamy. You’re only allowed four, but hey, don’t be a hog. And in an economic reform that may resonate in certain quarters in Washington, the charging of interest by banks is controversial if not yet forbidden. Persecution of Libya’s Christians has remained the one constant since the fall of Gadhafi, and vigilante violence is on the uptick.

In Syria, the anti-Christian jihad is well underway, churches are being occupied and ransacked by the rebels and Christian communities targeted in a sectarian “cleansing” campaign:

Asked whether it was the Free Syrian Army that was telling Christians to get out, Agnes Miriam, Mother Superior of the Monastery of St. James at Qara in the Diocese of Homs, said, ‘Yes … it was the commander on the ground, Abdel Salam Harba, who decided that there was to be no more negotiations with Christians.’

She said Christians refused to back the rebels, so the rebels used them as human shields.”

The Vatican has echoed the Mother Superior’s human shields charge, but the Obama administration is an unlikely source of sympathy for the plight of Syria’s Catholics, given their war on the Church here on the home front. Indeed, anti-Catholicism is back in fashion in this country, particularly among the sort of secular liberals likely to be strong supporters of the President. Why should the Obamaites be concerned about the fate of Syrian Christians at the hands of US-backed jihadists rebels? There’s no political pay-off.

I know this argument isn’t going to be popular with my liberal-lefty readers, of which there are plenty, but listen: this is a deadly dangerous geopolitical game our grand strategists in Washington are playing. From North Africa to the mountain passes of Afghanistan, this administration is linking up with radical Sunni Islamists, some of which are openly associated with or sympathetic to Al Qaeda, as a prelude to their coming showdown with the Iranian Shi’ite theocracy. Their regime-change operation in Syria is but a dress rehearsal for a much wider and more devastating conflict.

Washington’s playing the Sunni card condemns the peoples of the Middle East to the tyranny of sharia law: it means the utter destruction of ancient Christian communities from Tripoli to Chaldea. This has been a consistent pattern of US foreign policy since the Bush administration, which, after all, launched our disastrous invasion of Iraq and thus condemned its heretofore safe and relatively free Christian community to death.

It is undeniable that the Obama administration’s strenuous efforts to attach itself to the coattails of the “Arab Spring” have radically accelerated the threat: indeed, it is fair to say that one of the main consequences of our “successful” policy has been and will continue to be a regional Christian pogrom. The only question is whether this is the inevitable albeit inadvertent consequence of a broader policy, or an intentional campaign to eradicate Christianity from the Middle East.

So where are the much-vaunted and politically powerful “Christian” groups in the US, who are supposed to exert so much influence over the Republican party and its candidates? While the Christians of the Middle East are sinking beneath an Islamist wave, as Washington cheers (and funds the jihadists), such Christian “leaders” as the Rev. John Hagee are too busy anticipating World War III and supporting Israel to notice.

As this administration pursues a policy that puts the Christians of the Middle East and North Africa in mortal danger, where oh where is the so-called Religious Right? They’re carrying the banner of Mitt Romney, who wants the US to openly arm the Syrian rebels. Being a former Mormon bishop and all, Romney no doubt knows about the existence of the tiny Mormon community in Syria: is he concerned about their fate when the jihadists come to town? From the tone of this Mormon propaganda — no.

In Syria, and throughout the region, it is the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches that will be razed to the ground as radical Sunnis backed by the US take power and impose sharia law. If these groups have any lobbying power in the US, I have yet to see them exercise it on behalf of their beleaguered co-religionists. The mainstream media in the Western world, no friend of organized religion of any sort, is content to close its collective eye to the pogrom, whilst cheerleading and covering up for the supposedly heroic rebels. This BBC reporter doesn’t hesitate to ask a nun reporting rebel atrocities if she knows “many people consider you a liar.” Imagine some reporter — particularly one from the BBC — saying that to a Kosovar during the Balkan war. It would never have happened.

If the Obama administration is trying to reinforce the wacky idea that the President is really a secret Muslim, then they are certainly doing a bang-up job of it. As for me, my view is that, like all statists, the Obamaites are hostile to all religion, just on general principles. The church, after all, is a rival power center to the State. In any case, sympathy for the plight of Christians in the Middle East is not likely to be found in those quarters — but, Christ Almighty, what about the rest of the country? Have we completely lost our moral compass, or is the triumph of militant secularism so complete that we can comfortably ignore our own government’s war on Christianity in the Middle East?

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].