International

Mod urges UK Govt to intervene in IS-controlled territories

August 11, 2014

Free Church ministers from every Presbytery in Scotland, including the Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, have urged the UK Government to intervene as persecuted Christians continue to be massacred in Islamic State (IS) controlled regions in Iraq and Syria. 

In an open letter to Westminster’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, lead signatory and Free Church Moderator Rev David Miller urged the UK Government “to do much more to end the genocide and atrocities being reported inside IS controlled regions”. 

The Cobham minister added that following the 2003 invasion of Iraq “we cannot justly wash our hands of the wider security situation” or “deny practical help to efforts to end the IS regime of terror”.  

International news and internet reports have highlighted the most barbaric of murders in the IS areas including the beheading of children. 

Church of England Canon Andrew White, more commonly known as the ‘vicar of Baghdad’, told the BBC that he and his congregation could be killed for their faith if they continue to gather for worship together. 

The open letter has also been endorsed by individual ministers from the Edinburgh and Perth, Glasgow and Argyll, Inverness, Lochaber and Ross, Northern, Skye and Wester Ross and Western Isles Presbyteries, as well by Board of Trustees chairman James Fraser CBE.

Rev David Miller, Free Church Moderator said: “We call on the Government to join with France, and others, in offering asylum to the clear victims of persecution – irrespective of creed or ethnic background.”

He added: “Regardless of the merits of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and its aftermath, we must recognise that our nation contributed to instability in the region.   

“This situation has enabled militant Islamist groups, like IS, to thrive.   

“We cannot justly wash our hands of the wider security situation, or deny practical help to efforts to end the IS regime of terror.  

He concluded: “We appreciate that this is a fluid situation, and liable to rapid changes on the ground. But the situation of Christians in IS controlled areas is horrific.   

“We cannot stand by and offer only prayer.   

“We urge our government to do more to bring security to the victims of this genocide.”

The text of the full letter is below:

Dear Foreign Secretary,

The plight of persecuted Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria – chiefly in regions controlled by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) – is a matter of grave concern to the Christian community and to all decent human beings.  We are grateful that the matter is now receiving the attention of the media and of Her Majesty’s Government itself.  We appreciate the attention that HM Government is now giving to the matter but we would urge you to do much more to end the genocide and atrocities being reported inside IS controlled regions.

The Prime Minister recently spoke of his pride in our nation’s Christian heritage.   We welcome today’s news that the RAF will join the effort to air-drop supplies to people in need and assist the American effort to halt the advance of the IS terrorists.   But the quality of Christian mercy goes beyond alms giving.   Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan demonstrates that the provision of sanctuary ought also to characterise a response to this situation.   We call on HM Government to join with France, and others, in offering asylum to the clear victims of persecution – irrespective of creed or ethnic background.

Regardless of the merits of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and its aftermath, we must recognise that our nation contributed to instability in the region.   This situation has enabled militant Islamist groups, like IS, to thrive.   We cannot justly wash our hands of the wider security situation, or deny practical help to efforts to end the IS regime of terror.  

Last week the Scottish Parliament debated the plight of persecuted Christians.   We hope this matter might, at the earliest convenience, occupy the time of our UK parliamentarians, even if Parliament must be recalled.  

We appreciate that this is a fluid situation, and subject to rapid changes on the ground.   But the situation of Christians in IS controlled areas is horrific.   We cannot stand by and offer only prayer.  

We urge HM Government to do more to bring security to the victims of this genocide.

Yours sincerely,

Rev David Miller, Free Church of Scotland Moderator and minister of the Cobham congregation in Surrey.