Since his election in 1981, New Jersey Republican Rep. Chris Smith has defended Christians and religious liberty with tenacious passion. Now, more than three decades after assuming office, he’s still standing tall for the abused and forgotten.
Currently, a vast majority of refugees receiving protection are given such benefits by the United Nations and other non-governmental organizations that either ignore or don’t specifically target persecuted Christians. Smith’s bill simply calls for better stewardship of U.S. funds by pushing the federal government to appropriate money to groups that are steadfastly helping displaced and endangered Christians, the Middle East’s largest religious minority.
“When I say ‘the U.S.,’ I mean the Obama administration,” the lawmaker clarified, going on to applaud the Christian organizations — such as the Knights of Columbus, native religious leaders and others — that have assisted their fellow believers with little U.S. humanitarian aid.
For Smith, this isn’t just a policy issue — it’s personal. In fact, over the Christmas holiday, he traveled to Erbil, Iraq, where, according to the lawmaker, some 70,000 Christians are finding refuge, and came away with an even stronger desire to see change for these hurting believers.
“The greatest positive takeaway [from the trip] was the incredible resilience of the people at every age category,” he said. “I saw no diminution of their faith in God and his love and mercy and grace.”
Smith went on to describe a Christmas gathering he attended where children sang “Happy Birthday” to Jesus and the people shared an unshakeable positivity in the face of such horror. “Nobody was saying, ‘Woe is me,’ or complaining or in any way lamenting other than they’re praying for a better day,” he said. “They love their families, they love their church, and above all, they love God.”
Despite being invited, no White House or consular representative accompanied Smith on his trip into the refugee camps in Erbil, citing safety threats — an “indifference” the Republican said was “most shocking.”
"Cities have been burned to the ground, people have been roasted alive, girls are increasingly being raped and forced into Islamic marriage in attempts by Muslims to gain a special place in Heaven through proselytizing in this manner," Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, told CP on Wednesday. "Government and statutory authority inactivity have built a sense of impunity for crimes against Christians."