A Christian homeland in the Middle East would help protect persecuted Christians fleeing violence from the Islamic State group and other militant threats, a growing group of Christian leaders insist.
Groups such as Philos Project, a pro-Israel group with a stated mission of promoting “positive Christian engagement in the Middle East,” and In Defense of Christians, an advocacy group that seeks to preserve Christian culture in the Middle East, want U.S. leaders to help them establish a safe zone for Christians in the Middle East, the Christian Broadcasting Network founded by televangelist Pat Robertson reported Friday.
The militant group also known as ISIS has threatened Christians in Syria, Iraq and other regions where it holds territory or its supporters are capable of carrying out lone wolf attacks. Christians in the Middle East make up some of the oldest Christian communities in the world, according to BBC News.
"We all feel the temptation to stay out of it and mind our own business... But minding our business is simply not an option," said Robert Nicholson, president of the Philos Project, during a recent meeting in Washington, D.C. aimed at raising awareness about ISIS' violence against Christians in the Middle East, according to media reports. "Christians in the Middle East will only be safe when they have a protected homeland, a foundation on which to build their shattered society."
The Christian state should be located in the Ninevah Plains region of Iraq, advocates argue. The area has long been home to a dwindling group of Assyrian Christians, people who speak Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus and his disciples, and have been pushed out of Iraq in recent years because of religious discrimination. In all, Iraq has seen its Christian population drop from about 1.5 million before the U.S. invasion to 500,000 people, the Christian Science Monitor reported last year.
"History has shown us various examples of this concept working in practice, of minority peoples under existential threat surviving and thriving by securing territory: Israel, Armenia, Iraqi Kurdistan, even (to a far less satisfactory degree) Native American reservations in the U.S.," Nicholson said.
Joseph Hakim, president of the International Christian Union (ICU), an organization that advocates for the survival of Middle Eastern Christians, has criticized the Obama administration for not doing more to help Christians in the Middle East.
"Christians need a state of their own and an alliance with the US, and Israel. Otherwise, being leaderless and without a military force, Christians have no chance to survive," he told the conservative website, FrontPage Magazine, last year.