How would you describe the situation many Iraqi Christians are facing?
More than a million people who are Iraqi Christians are going through a very difficult time, largely because of their faith. Many have had family members killed or kidnapped.
There are currently an estimated 1.5 million Iraqi refugees in Syria and another 600,000 in Jordan, a significant number of whom are Christians—and these figures are probably growing. These refugees don't have food, housing, or health care. They can't work or get an education for their children.
There's a real opportunity for the church in the West to advocate for Christians in Iraq. Large numbers of [Iraq's indigenous Christians] have been driven out of Baghdad, Basra, and other cities. This is the homeland of Abraham. Emptying Iraq of the Christian community will dramatically change the Middle East.
What specific goals will this caucus address?
The purpose of the caucus is to educate Congress and the public, and to [speak out on behalf of] religious minorities—Christians being a large number of them—in the Middle East.
We have a person within the State Department designated to look at the issue of Iraqi Christians. The House also put more money into the supplemental spending bill it passed May 15 for programs to assist vulnerable Iraqi minority groups, including Christians. The U.S. has selected the deputy chiefs of mission in our embassies in Jordan, Syria, and Beirut to address refugee issues in Jordan and Syria. The administration has also asked the Iraqi government to release some oil revenue to meet the needs of refugees.
The caucus also intends to address the challenges faced by other religious minorities in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere ...1