“We must vote for Trump… he’s going to protect Christians,” they said.
In hindsight I guess they meant Christian business owners who dream of hanging “straights only” signs in their windows— because it sure doesn’t seem like they meant the kind of Christians who actually are persecuted because of their faith.
Such realities can be out-of-sight-out-of-mind from within a western bubble where Christians are the vast majority of both the general population and predominantly the ones who control the government itself. It’s also possible that with the right wing persecution complex in America the entire phrase has been soiled to the point of prompting an eye-roll when one hears it, making it unintentionally easy to dismiss cases where persecution is actually true.
Yet, in some parts of the world, the persecution of a Christian minority is horrifically real– such as in the Middle East. The Trump administration had previously referred to the plight of Christians in Iraq, specifically, as being “genocide”– something that is actually affirmed by a recent UK report which highlighted serious persecution in Iraq and a variety of other countries.
Christians of the conservative flavor in America previously expressed deep concern for the persecution of Christians in the Middle East (except for Palestinian Christians, cause, you know…), notably in Iraq and Syria. And they should– America has a moral culpability in the genocide of Iraqi Christians, as the Christian population in Iraq has dropped 80% since the US destabilized the country and left a vacuum for extremists to thrive and persecute the minority.
Many of these Christians have fled their homeland of Iraq, some of which now reside in the United States where they can live their lives as Christians and never have to worry about being oppressed or persecuted for it. These Iraqi Christians even expressed overwhelming support for Trump, because he talked a big, big game with promises to protect and shelter them.
But a big, big game was all it was– a big game to get enough white evangelical votes to win the election. Now that we’re well into his presidency, the Trump administration has made it clear that Christians of the brown-skinned and Middle-Eastern flavor— especially the ones who can’t vote— are of no value to him. They are being deported without mercy, which in some cases is the same thing as a death sentence.
As reported in The Guardian:
“But just months into the Trump administration, Ice swept up 350 Chaldean men and Iraqi nationals. Now, some Chaldeans hold signs at protests reminding Trump “You vowed to protect us”.
“Some people thought ‘Here comes Trump who’s talking a good game about Christians in the Middle East who are being persecuted,’” said Edward Bojoka, a Chaldean immigration attorney. “A lot of people in the Chaldean community jumped on that and said, ‘Oh, he’s on our side’, and … some people feel like they were conned.”
Such was the case with Jimmy Aldaoud. Jimmy was an Iraqi Christian who was born in Greece and had never actually been to Iraq. He came to America at 6 months old, legally. He had diabetes and schizophrenia, did not speak Arabic, and apart from having a citizenship certificate, he was for all intents and purposes, an American.
Jimmy was deported to Iraq in June– a country he’d never even visited, one where he couldn’t speak the language, did not have family or contacts, and one where he had little hope as an “American”, a Christian, or someone facing severe heath issues.
He was dead within six weeks of Trump deporting him.
Many more are facing deportation orders, and no one on either side of the political spectrum disputes the reality that they will be deported into the hands of persecution or likely death. Even folks like Presidential BFF, Franklin Graham, have publicly asked Trump to keep his promise and not deport Iraqi Christians back to Iraq, before falling back in line behind the President.
Stunningly, it gets worse: When efforts were made to at least convince the Trump administration to deport Iraqi Christians to a safe 3rd country who would be willing to accept them, such as Armenia, the attempt to find a life-saving solution was repeatedly brushed off. Not only is it unconscionable to deport individuals (of any vulnerable people group) where there is a verified, high-probability of persecution or death; it is beyond unfathomable the administration would flat out ignore a viable alternative that would accomplish the deportation without it being an automatic death sentence.
For those on the religious right, Trump’s merciless deportation of Iraqi Christians– individuals he’s acknowledged have been the victims of genocide and promised he would protect– ought reveal the deeper truth about things:
Donald Trump values Christians inasmuch as he values the white evangelical vote.
It’s never been about the Christian part, and has always been about the vote part.
And that white evangelical vote?
Well, let’s be honest:
When it comes to finding a leader who will protect Christians from “oppression,” white evangelicals seem far more concerned with the right fire LGBTQ employees and keeping all the wedding cakes to themselves, than with kids being locked in cages and Middle-Eastern Christians being sent back to their deaths in Iraq.