It is with great sadness and deep concern that we join our voice with the voice of the church in Iraq to cry out against the terrible attack being waged against Christians, Shiite Muslims, and other religious minorities in and around the Iraqi city of Mosul. We condemn all actions seeking to discriminate between indigenous residents and citizens of Iraq based on religion or sect, and actions that threaten the safety and human dignity of innocents seeking to live out their Christian or Muslim faith in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere in the region.
We denounce the fear and hate-based tactics of Islamic extremists being used to force Christians to convert to a particular expression of Islam, pay an unspecified tax (jizya) for their safety, leave with only the clothes on their backs, or stay and be killed.
We further call for a cessation of all religious targeting, including the marking and confiscation of Christian and Shiite Muslim homes, kidnapping, and murder. All actions that seek to demean and demoralize are unjustifiable and contrary to all of the Abrahamic faith traditions, including Islam.
We call on our own government of the United States to examine its role in the Middle East, to seek to ensure that future involvements in the region be consistent with the promotion of justice and freedom for all, including religious liberty, and to ensure that military intervention of any kind is undertaken as a last resort and reflects a high consensus among democratic nations that it may serve a just peace.
Therefore we call on religious leaders and the world at-large to join us in speaking out against all such atrocities. We call on all governments directly involved in supporting groups who carry out such atrocities to stop all funding, training, and arms supplies of these groups. We call on all governments to guard against their own citizens who are privately funding the sectarian fighting or who are traveling to Iraq and Syria to join the sectarian fighting. We call on all governments to vigorously support the establishment of governing structures that protect the human dignity and rights; religious, social and political freedom; safety, and peace of the majority and minority groups that call Iraq and Syria home. And, we call on all governments to actively support relief, resettlement, and redevelopment work to aid those who have been displaced and to assist Iraqis and Syrians in the rebuilding of infrastructure, homes, and businesses destroyed by the current violence.
We pray constantly for those who have lost loved ones, friends and neighbors as a result of the evil being inflicted. We pray earnestly for the safety and security of those forced to leave their homes under threat of violence. And we pray mightily for resources and aid for each community receiving those who have been displaced.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) stands as a witness to Christ’s teaching of peace, love and solidarity with all of God’s creation. Likewise, we anchor our feet solidly in the proclamation of truth and justice for all humankind. Let it be so.
The Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Ruling Elder Heath K. Rada, Moderator, 221st General Assembly (2014)
Ruling Elder Linda Bryant Valentine, Executive Director, Presbyterian Mission Agency