A noble and honorable woman among us has died.


This past weekend, an elderly woman I worked with passed away.  Her name was Joan.  She was in her seventies.  My work commenced at the Idaho Department of Insurance over six years ago.  I met Joan in a meeting.  She was a bright and tenacious researcher and public policy analyst.  Her forte was health care policy.  She knew more about health insurance than anyone in the state!  For the years I knew her, until her husband’s death in 2911, Joan had cared for her bed-ridden husband.  Never a word of complaint, pity, or remorse was heard from Joan about her husband’s health and how it impacted her own and her family life.  After he died, she ended up in the hospital for a week or so; and upon her return to work; there was no word of complaint or looking back at her problems.  She was ever helpful, ever even-headed and non-complaining.  She was an example to me.  I am not sure of her faith.  I knew this: that she was a Christian.  Despite all of her obvious talents, persistence, obstacles, and troubles, she never complained.  There was not a hint of arrogance and there was always time for me when I had a question or wanted to review an issue with her.  I would see her in the hallway at my office, and I always said, “Hi Joan, how are you doing?”  She would answer, “doing okay.”  It took me awhile to decipher that answer, but in speaking the truth about her situation, you could tell she struggled every day to make it to work, to accomplish the care required by her husband, and to fulfill her job as a public policy analyst.  She was as full of answers about the law as she was full of questions.  I enjoyed working with this honorable and noble woman unknown in this modern world.  Joan was a light, a type of Christ in our midst..  She will be sorely missed.  She brought peace with her everywhere she went by living a well-ordered life in Christ.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Input Please: National Promoters Meeting; October 20th, 2011; Adrian Sisters at Adrian Michigan


The periodic meeting of the peace and justice promoters for North America is being held this coming October 20th through the 23rd, 2011 at the Adrian Dominican Sisters, Adrian, Michigan.

Two years ago, on behalf of the Lay Fraternity of St. Dominic in the Western Province, a statement regarding key issues was forwarded.   This is the prior statement:

1.            That all public and private institutions at the state, national, and international levels seek and promote the legal protection of innocent human beings from conception to natural death from loss of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; and, relating to the dignity of each human being and based upon the concept that society may be properly protected from harm, that any person found guilty of any heinous crime should not suffer the death penalty.

2.            That grounded on the rule of law and the sovereignty of nations, persons immigrating to, or emigrating from, a nation should be treated with respect to, and in compliance with, the rights accorded such persons based upon the inherent dignity of each human being, together with rights established under law, including but not limited to natural, individual, family, religious, and civil rights.

The North American promoters are having a  meeting again this year, from Friday, October 19th, 2011 through Sunday, October 21, 2011 at the Adrian Dominican Sisters in Adrian, Michigan.   As the lay promoter for the Western Province, I am asking all lay members, councils, and chapters to gather and consider what issues you wish to have pressented to the national meeting this coming October.  

Please consider any key issues involving key religious issues that impact society and forward them if possible, by October 7th.   I will gather any comments from chapters, members, and councilors regarding any issue, summarize them, and it is my goal to personally deliver the summary to Adrian on October 20th as a member of the gathering.

Among the issues to be discussed at the promoters meeting according to their agenda are: “Climate Change, Education/Action for Nonviolence, Death Penalty, Disarmament, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Trafficking, Immigration, and MDGs and the UN Agenda other issues that have emerged.”

In addition to the issues listed above, it would be good if the promoters considered additional issues more related to core religious principles of our Catholic Faith. Therefore, please pass along your chapter’s ideas etc. by Friday, October 7th, 2011, directly to the Lay promoter.  My email address is john((@))keenan.org.

Also, chapters should forward to me the name(s) of any person who serves as each individual chapter’s social justice contact person.  

Also, related to the subject of social justice, please take note that the Blessed Margaret Castello Chapter in Boise, Idaho is hosting a COLLOQUIUM on SOCIAL JUSTICE on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, October 5, 6, and 7, 2012 (yes, 2012). More information on the colloquium will be posted at a later date; but note your calendar for October, 2012.

Thank you.  Your friend in St. Dominic,

Mr. John Keenan, O.P., J.D., Lay Peace Promoter, Western Dominican Province

Sr. Brink, O.P.: Moving past Christ, the Church, as a Sojourner.


The following is only a portion of Sr. Brink’s speech before the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (2007) national conference.  The remainder of her talk may be seen at the link at the bottom of this post.  The comments in red are mine:

The dynamic option for Religious Life, which I am calling, Sojourning, is much more difficult to discuss, since it involves moving beyond the Church, even beyond Jesus.  [Beyond Christ?  To political?]  A sojourning congregation is no longer ecclesiastical. [It is ideological?]  It has grown beyond the bounds of institutional religion. Its search for the Holy may have begun rooted in Jesus as the Christ, but deep reflection, study and prayer have opened it up to the spirit of the Holy [What?] in all of creation.

Religious titles, institutional limitations, ecclesiastical authorities no longer fit this congregation, which in most respects is Post-Christian. [The Redeemed World that knows Christ will never be "post-Christian."]  When religious communities embraced the spirit of renewal in the 1970s [Is this when the problem commenced? Is this the spirit that St. Paul speaks about in 2 Thess. 2?]  they took seriously that the world was no longer the enemy, that a sense of ecumenism required encountering the holy “other,” and that the God of Jesus might well be the God of Moses and the God of Mohammed.

The works of Thomas Merton encouraged an exploration of the nexus between Eastern and Western religious practices. [Thomas Merton may have tried to synthesize the East and West but it was not his intent to "move beyond Jesus."] The emergence of the women’s movement with is concomitant critique of religion invited women everywhere to use a hermeneutical lens of suspicion when reading the androcentric Scriptures and the texts of the Tradition. [It gathered a sense of rebellion.]  With a new lens, women also began to see the divine within nature, the value and importance of the cosmos, and that the emerging new cosmology encouraged their spirituality and fed their souls.  [Is this the "new cosmology" of a 'new age,' and sees humankind as on par with creation?]

As one sister described it, “I was rooted in the story of Jesus, and it remains at my core, but I’ve also moved beyond Jesus.” The Jesus narrative is not the only or the most important narrative for these women. They still hold up and reverence the values of the Gospel, but they also recognize that these same values are not solely the property of Christianity. Buddhism, Native American spirituality, Judaism, Islam and others hold similar tenets for right behavior within the community, right relationship with the earth and right relationship with the Divine. [Do they truly believe in Christ?  All traditions have some truth attached to it; but it is full in Christ?] With these insights come a shattering or freeing realization—depending on where you stand. Jesus is not the only son of God.  Salvation is not limited to Christians. Wisdom is found in the traditions of the Church as well as beyond it.  [With all this, why do we need Christ?  Why not the Gospel of the New Cosmology as embodied in the Earth Charter?]

  “The Marginal Life: Pursuing Holiness in the 21st Century” byLaurie Brink, O.P.; LCWR Keynote Address, Kansas City, MO, August 2, 2007.

http://www.lcwr.org/lcwrannualassembly/2007assembly/Keynote.pdf

 

With regard to New Cosmology, Mother Earth as a Person and the Assorted Other Modern Philosophy..


St. Paul:

“See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ.

“For in him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fulness of life in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.”

Colossians 2:8-9.

Our Bishops Need to Preach Faith and Morals


In order to advance the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church;

OUR PASTORS NEED TO PREACH FAITH & MORALS

and the Laity need to be Holy.

          On April 13, 2011, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops [hereinafter “USCCB” or “Bishops”] forwarded to members of Congress a letter [See here] noting that writing a federal budget demands “wise bipartisan leadership, clear priorities, and moral clarity.”   America’s financial house needs to be put in order, the USCCB noted, by “fulfilling the demands of justice and moral obligations to future generations; controlling future debt and deficits, and protecting the lives and dignity of those who are poor and vulnerable.”  

 The Bishops note three “moral criteria” regarding difficult budgetary decisions:  (a) that “every budget decision should be assessed by whether it protects or threatens human life and dignity; (2) that “the central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects ‘the least of these’”  (Matthew 25), including the those who hunger and are homeless, or who are without work or are in poverty; and, (3) that “government and other institutions have a shared responsibility to promote the common good of all, especially ordinary workers and families who struggle to live in dignity in difficult economic times.” 

 Calling life-affirming health care an “urgent national priority,” the Bishops throw great doubt on current proposals to convert entitlement programs such as Medicare or Medicaid to block grant programs or subsidies; and the Bishops called foreign aid an “essential tool to promote human life and dignity” and to enhance global security. 

 Pleading that the budget must reduce deficits and protect the poor, jobless, and vulnerable, the U.S. bishops call for “shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirements programs fairly.”   The Bishops declare themselves pastors and teachers, “not experts or partisans.”  Experts they are not.

 While the Bishops call for “priorities” in the national budget; their focus is wrong-headed.   It is agreed that the budget must be life-affirming, it must contain and reduce worldwide military adventures and commitments, it must provide a social safety net for the poor and vulnerable, it must tackle the monumental debt as an overarching generational moral issue; and it must control spending and entitlement programs.  However—for the USCCB—there is more to consider.

 In 2007, David Walker, Comptroller of the United States at the time, recalled that nearly 2000 years ago, the Roman Empire fell for three main reasons: [1] declining moral values and political civility at home, [2] an overconfident military in foreign lands, and [3] government fiscal irresponsibility.  

 As the old saying goes, nothing changes under the Sun.  Our modern American Republic is plagued by the same issues.   Whether Congress should expand or contract national spending, on what programs it should focus, and the degree of international spending is a prudent question to be answered within the constraints of the constitutional system of limited government framed by the American founding fathers.  That question is for the politicians.

 The real Gospel focus of the American bishops is not a call for governmental action, but the moral make-up of our country.   Every resource of the bishops should be focused on improving the mediocre catechetical teaching and preaching that occurs around the country, from the pulpits and in the classrooms, and call American Catholics to personal responsibility and to live a moral life. 

 While not universally true, many pastors fail to teach or preach, but often cite platitudes and generalities during the Homily at Holy Mass.   

 What is needed?  True preaching.  If the Bishops want to change the culture and touch the hearts of the American people that will ultimately guide the Congress, then preach

 In other words, the Bishop’s beseeching Congress regarding spending rings empty.  Why?  As teachers, the primary office of bishop is to teach the Faithful through effective formation of his priests and congregation.  The Bishops need to preach charity and morality from the pulpit with particularity.  In order to realize social change, the Bishops must engage the hearts and minds where it counts: at Church.  

 A converted heart motivated by love of God and the Gospel, will seek the necessary right action and moral change in their own lives and in their own families and communities.   It is the believers who are “doers” of the Word that change the World.

 Many of the social problems our Nation faces are a direct result of immoral conduct.   For example, the rising poverty rate among women and children is due to sexual conduct outside of marriage.    The federal Medicaid and supplementary security income budgets have exploded over the last decade.   Far too many unwed mothers find themselves with few choices and cornered in poverty.  Government rightly comes to the rescue to aid these mothers and children to uphold the human dignity of these vulnerable persons; but let’s not deny the immorality at play.  

 When unwed men and women act immorally and sleep with one another with utter disregard for other human lives, the children are born in poverty, the mothers are desperate, and too often the fathers abandon the family.  In the end, the taxpayer is called to fill the remaining monetary void.  It is a desperate problem that finds no immediately political solution; yet the focus of the Bishops should be on the right moral sexual conduct of the American people—especially Catholics.

 The Bishops need to preach.  Their priests need to be pastors.  The priests need to preach from the pulpit.   Part of the solution is concrete preaching calling people to improve their personal lives by ordered thinking, right action, personal responsibility, and moral conduct. 

 Preaching should encourage the Faithful to follow the Ten Commandments; to go to Mass; to engage only in marital sex; to uphold marriage as between a man and a woman; to encourage choices of life and family; to stay faithful to their spouses; to raise their children rightly; to not worry so much about activism but more about putting their own lives and families in order; to act charitably with family, neighbors, and other parishioners; to work hard, to pay their bills; to pay their taxes; to stay faithful to home and country; to give a day’s work for a day’s pay; to be honest and not to commit fraud or lying; to be good and effective students and teachers; to be fair and just business owners, bosses and managers, and on and on.   

 Admittedly, the USCCB has a role in national politics, but its call over the years for expanded government belies the reality that the quality and nature of preaching over the last generation has achieved a level of sustained mediocrity.  On many moral issues, until recently the Bishops have remained silent.  In order to pursue a more perfect society, they must engage moral Preaching.

 Calling the Faithful Catholics to live faithful, moral, responsible and good lives is the first step to changing society to live like Christ and focusing His people to act justly with charity.  Such a message will change the world.

 By Mr. John Keenan, O.P., J.D., promoter of peace & justice, Western Dominican Province; Blessed Margaret of Costello Chapter, Boise, Idaho.

 

The Plight of the Iraqi Christians


From Sr. Dusty Farnan, O.P. regarding the Iraqi Dominicans and Christians:

You might find the following video informative on the Christian situation in Iraq.  It was a PBS special in this past week.  [Sr.] Dusty

This section of the program gives a historical perspective on Iraqi Christians and an overview of current persecutions.  Many Iraqi Christians have had to flee their villages and/or their country because of the invasion by the United States.  As the anti-war song asks: “When will we ever learn?”

 http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/episodes/july-23-2010/disappearing-christians-of-iraq/6701/

My autistic son. I love America.


Today, as I sat in my office, my youngest and autistic son called me on the phone from summer school.  He said, “Hey Dad, I need some money to go to Dairy Queen across from the school.”    He is in summer school and attends with a number of other children who either have some mental or physical (or both) limitation.   His teachers intended to take him and the entire class of students to Dairy Queen.   Like so often what happens, I had given him about $5 earlier in the morning, but he had lost the money!  Nevertheless, I took off from work for a few moments and joined my son at the local Dairy Queen with about 25 other students.   I am always excited to see my son.  He is autistic but he is a joy to be around.   His simplicity of heart and good will is a genuine resting place for me because of my crowded and busy life.

In addition, I rejoiced in seeing how the teachers treated the other students as they lined up to purchase items at the Dairy Queen counter.   With a beautiful face and a wide smile, the counterperson smiled as she attended the obviously handicapped kids.   The children comprehended the universal language of ice cream, milkshakes, soda, and corn dogs.  The teachers treated each student under his or her charge with patience and attention; tending each as if the student was a son or daughter. 

The experience reminded me of the grace with which Our Lord treats each of us, despite our weaknesses, sins, and faults,  or our tendencies or fallibilities; He attends us with grace.  All He asks is our love and obedience in return and adherence to the truth.  His truth.  The good, really good, thing about all of this is that in life, we must seek the truth in charity.  If we ignore the truth, we do so at our own peril.   

On the eve of our national 4th of July weekend and celebration, I am very thankful that I live in America, that my family lives here, and that this land still loves and lives freedom.   I am thankful despite all that has occured and the injustices of people who commit and endorse the killing of kids in the womb, or the elderly or infirm, or the “inconvenience” of those who are weak and need our attention, I still love this country.  I am thankful despite the politics of reprisal and the agenda of politicians driven by ideology and agendas rather than truth and right order.   I still love this country.  I will be singing this weekend.  Somewhere, probably at Church or thereafter, “God Bless America” and “The Star Spangled Banner” will be sung and with a heart full, I am thankful for the men and women over the last two centuries who have given their lives, their time,  their energy, and efforts to defend this Nation.   May God grant repose of the faithfully departed veterans, fathers and mothers, and friends that have gone before us.  May God heal our land and bring it to the Truth with charity in peace. 

As Peace Promoters, let’s not be Partisans.


The following was my response to the immediate preceding post, about the Palestinian Authority.   The North American promoters held a telephone conference and shortly thereafter I published the following response in an effort to avoid being partisan between the people of Israel and Palestine.  The point is made here:

22 June 2010

Memorial of St. Thomas More

Thank you, Sr. Farnan, for the opportunity to participate in the telephone conference on June 16th on behalf of many of the lay people in the Western Dominican Province.  It is important that we engage issues as men and women of good will in the hope of improving our dialog.  Due to the fact that there may be a lack of clarity on my part on that date, it is proper to carefully articulate my position on the Israel-Palestine matter.  It is helpful to those interested in that perspective and in an effort to further any reasonable debate.  I am hopeful this will help us foster community by welcoming the diversity of viewpoints held by the promoters.

Both sides of this conflict can legitimately claim atrocities, terrorist acts, breaches of law, etc., inflicted upon them by the other party.   Any such claim depends upon the precise time over the last 60+ years that is being studied and focused on.  Nevertheless, the intransigence of the Palestinian leadership’s refusal (and in turn the leadership’s propaganda) to accept Israel as a nation leads to violence, not peace.  Further, Israel must live up to its promise as a modern constitutional republic to uphold and bear the responsibility under law for the right to life, liberty, and property of its citizens and neighbors.  Both parties to this conflict need to face problems constructively and with eager hearts.  Neither party is innocent.  The leadership of both Israel and Palestine—as well as other nations that surround that area—must uphold and recognize the dignity of each person that arises from nature and ultimately from God.   Violent action and like reaction over time has spilled too much blood!  This is not a test of balance to determine which party or nation has committed the greatest number or kind of atrocities, as in missile lobbing, terrorist attacks, bus bombs, violence, helicopter attacks, raids, and the like; but this effort must be based on what can be done to establish peace and justice in truth. 

It starts with all parties and states to recognize the dignity of each human person and to establish respective governments that recognize and uphold human rights insofar as possible in this world.  The continued history of endless war and reprisal is intolerable.   The governments and leadership of these peoples should not carry on the most recent ethnic or political propaganda, but must “guarantee the right of each person to a human and civic culture ‘in harmony with the dignity of the human person, without distinction of race, sex, nation, religion, or social circumstances.’”  [Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, ¶ 557].  Toward that end, if peace is to thrive, any government must embrace right reason and good order.

In other words, as promoters of peace and justice, it is my hope we can carry the Gospel to all sides—not pick sides.  It is enough that we preach in whatever way possible, in whatever forum possible, by speaking to all concerned, with Gospel conviction yet in charity, that there are certain principles at law and at reason that will lead to peace, grounded on justice and firmly in truth. 

If the promoters pick one side or the other—depending upon the issue of the day—then we become unwitting activists providing cover for propaganda.   In effect, the promoters become little more than a political party.   Of course, that is not what the promoters are about!

Whenever the promoters speak with universal truth, it will touch the hearts and minds of people of good will on all sides; and the promoters should not trumpet any position but the truth.  Why should this be done?  Ideas matter, especially ideas that are grounded on truth.  Ideas can change the world.   After all, we need to look no further than our Master because His ideas, dedicated in love, changed the world.

As far as the respective governments of Israel or Palestine are concerned, the rule of law must be respected, a rule of law that recognizes and upholds every person regardless of status, that respects international borders, and that maintains right order among nations.  Such governance must recognize the rights of life, of liberty, and of property; protected and reinforced by a vigorous and free judiciary founded on a constitutional system.   Necessarily connected to such governance, is a free people, who are politically and economically free to pursue their own lives and cultures, and to reap the benefits of personal hard work and industry.   This expression of confidence in the Israeli and Palestinian people testifies to the universal truth that each man and woman is free; and should not be the subject to the whims of governmental and group ideas and forces; but on the universal truth that every person is created equal in dignity by God in nature.  These ideas will impress the minds and hearts of a free people of good will. 

It is these principles that we as promoters can demand: (1) that Israel not treat the Palestinians as objects of war, of violence, and as pawns, and (2) that the Palestinian leadership abandon its claim that Israel does not have the right to exist and the violence that accompanies that claim.   Once these peoples grasp the idea that the equality of each person is based on a law that is above every human law; then their leaders will end this long and tedious levy of war and cultural strife.

 It is toward this end that I write and petition that we not take the path of partisanship that abets the status quo of strife and the partisan organizations and committees with their hollow slogans and catchphrases; but that we demand of all parties that they act with right reason, good order, and prudence, with the object of peace.

Thanks kindly. 

In St. Dominic,

John Keenan, OPL, Lay Promoter of Peace, Justice & Care of Creation, Western Dominican Province

The Propaganda of the Palestinian Authority.


Received from a member of the North American Dominican Promoters of Peace & Justice on June 6, 2010 regarding the Palestinian Authority.  Note the use of terms of advocacy and propaganda.  The abiding concern here is that there are two sides to this story, as both the peoples of Palestine and Israel have suffered greatly.  I, for one, support taking the sides of the oppressed and downtrodden but in doing so, we must not inadvertently take sides in partisanship [Note the entry that follows]:

Besieged Gaza, Palestine

5.6.2010

One-and-a-half years after Israeli army perpetrated a massacre upon the population of Gaza, Apartheid Israel commits another crime against partisans of Palestine in international waters.  The world is moved at the plight of Palestinians and their supporters.  All of the seven crossings between Gaza and Israel, including the Rafah Crossing—the only access Gaza has to the external world—remain hermetically sealed.

We request that the citizens of the world oppose this deadly, medieval blockade. We no longer rely on governments. The failure of the United Nations and its numerous organizations to condemn such crimes proves their complicity.   Only civil society is able to mobilize to demand the application of international law and put an end to Israel’s impunity. The intervention of civil society was effective in the late 1980s against the apartheid regime of South Africa. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have not only described Israel’s oppressive and violent control of Palestinians as Apartheid, they have also joined this call for the world’s civil society to intervene again.

We, therefore, ask people of conscience and civil society organizations to put pressure on their governments until Israel is forced to abide by international law and international humanitarian law.  Without the intervention of the international community which was effective against apartheid in South Africa, Israel will continue its war crimes and crimes against humanity, as articulated by the Goldstione report.

We call on civil society organizations worldwide to intensify the anti-Israel sanctions campaign to compel Israel to end to its aggression.

Besieged Gaza,

5.6.2010

Signatory Organizations: 

The One Democratic State Group

University Teachers’ Association

Arab Cultural Forum

Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel

Association of Al-Quds Bank for Culture and Info

Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements

International Solidarity Movement

Palestine Sailing Federation

Palestinian Association for Fishing and Maritime

Palestinian Network of Non-Governmental Organizations

Palestinian Women Committees

Progressive Students Union

Medical Relief Society

The General Society for Rehabilitation

Gaza Community Mental Health Program

General Union of Palestinian Women

Afaq Jadeeda Cultural Centre for Women and Children

Deir Al-Balah Cultural Centre for Women and Children

Maghazi Cultural Centre for Children

Al-Sahel Centre for Women and Youth

Ghassan Kanfani Kindergartens

Rachel Corrie Centre, Rafah

Rafah Olympia City Sisters

Al Awda Centre, Rafah

Al Awda Hospital, Jabaliya Camp

Ajyal Association, Gaza

General Union of Palestinian Syndicates

Al Karmel Centre, Nuseirat

Local Initiative, Beit Hanoun

Union of Health Work Committees

Red Crescent Society Gaza Strip

Beit Lahiya Cultural Centre

Al Awda Centre, Rafah

Protecting Minorities (Christian) in Iraq.


From Sr. Stella Goodpasture, OP

Dear Supporter,

On June 20, people across the globe observed World Refugee Day.   Two days earlier, the UN Refugee Agency announced that over 100,000 Iraqi refugees have been referred for resettlement since 2007.  Of those, a little over 50 percent have actually been resettled in a new country.

Minority rights in Iraq must be protected.

For Iraqi asylum seekers, the news is not so good. Over the past month, several European countries have deported or forcibly returned asylum seekers to Iraq, raising concerns for their safety once they return. Because of the threat returned asylum seekers face, this practice goes against established UN guidelines for the protection and treatment of asylum seekers.

Minorities are particularly vulnerable if they are forcibly returned to Iraq, as they are still threatened with targeted violence every day. In the three months between July and September 2009, Amnesty International documented the deaths of 155 minorities in attacks targeted at minorities.

Turkmen, Yazidis, Shabak, Iraqi Christians of various denominations, and other religious and ethnic minorities have a long history in Iraq.   Today, they are disproportionately driven from their homes due to violence.   In fact, while significant security gains have been made throughout Iraq since 2008, in the disputed northern territories and cities like Mosul, violence against minorities is still a daily occurrence.   Minorities have been forced to flee their homes at gunpoint.  

In attacks against the Chaldo-Assyrian Christian community in 2008 that killed 40 people, Human Rights Watch reported “graffiti in Christian neighborhoods with messages such as ‘get out or die,’ and anti-Christian messages disseminated by loudspeakers mounted on cars, threatening Christians if they did not leave.”  

Read the Human Rights Watch report on beseiged minorities under attack

 

The Brookings Institution estimates that only 500,000 Iraqi Christians remain in Iraq of the 1 to 1.4 million that lived there prior to 2003.   The rest have fled and now live as refugees or asylum seekers.   For the religious and ethnic minorities who cannot return to Iraq, they must be resettled in new countries without fear of deportation.    In Iraq, steps must be taken to ensure minorities are protected, legally and physically.   Attacks on minorities cannot go unpunished.  

The United States must urge the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to investigate alleged human rights abuses against minorities.   Ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq must not be forced to choose between their lives and their homes.

Sincerely, Lauren Jenkins

EPIC: Promoting a Free & Secure Iraq 

EPIC
900 Second Street NE, Suite 216
Washington, DC 20002
202-682-0208