May 01, 2018
As toxic as our culture can be, Americans still take going to church safely for granted. In places like Nigeria, the simple act of showing up to worship can be deadly. Late last month, the world was horrified to read that another remote village in the African country lost another 19 people to a mass shooting at church. Radical Islamists walked into the service and opened fire, killing two priests and 17 others. The ones who survived watched helplessly as the Muslim herdsmen set fire to more than 50 of their homes. And the violence shows no sign of stopping.
Yesterday, in a joint press conference with the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, President Trump called out Buhari for not making more of an effort to protect the country's men and women of faith. "We are deeply concerned by religious violence in Nigeria including the burning of churches and the killing and persecution of Christians. It's a horrible story," Trump said bluntly. "We encourage Nigeria and the federal state and local leaders to do everything in their power to immediately secure the affected communities and to protect innocent civilians of all faiths including Muslims and including Christians."
It was a bold move to challenge Buhari publicly -- one that proves the president's deep sincerity on the issue of religious liberty. Although Nigerian officials have taken the threats of ISIS and Boko Haram more seriously, the Fulani herdsman are proving to be more deadly than either. The situation becomes even more delicate when you consider that Buhari is Fulani and also Muslim, which has led several people to wonder if he's trying hard enough to end the bloodshed.
According to Christianity Today, Nigeria's Catholic bishops "have accused Buhari of ineffective leadership and recently asked him to resign, saying, 'Whether this failure is due to inability to perform or lack of political will, it is time for him to choose the path of honor and consider stepping aside to save the nation from total collapse.'" This, on the heels of another middle-of-the-night ambush of Christian homes and a church where families were hiding. Hundreds, officials say, have already been killed this year.
To his credit -- and in stark contrast to the last administration -- President Trump is tackling the issue head on. "We've had very serious problems with Christians who have been murdered, killed in Nigeria," said Trump. "We're going to be working on that problem and working on that problem very, very hard because we can't allow that to happen." With the help of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador Sam Brownback, let's hope world leaders are getting the message that America won't stand by and let this brutality go unchecked.
FRC will be talking more about this topic Wednesday in a special panel, "Religious Freedom and National Security: Opportunities for Secretary Pompeo." If you haven't registered for the event, check it out here.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.