A coalition of evangelical leaders is urging the Biden administration to help resettle Afghanistan citizens who were allies of the U.S. or may face persecution for their Christian faith, saying America has a moral obligation to assist those endangered by Taliban rule.
The coalition sent a letter to Biden Tuesday, one day after he addressed the nation from the White House and stood by his decision to pull American troops out of Afghanistan. The Taliban is a repressive Islamic regime that opposed the rights of women, Christians and adherents of other faiths when it ruled Afghanistan prior to the U.S. invasion of 2001. The U.S. invaded Afghanistan after the Taliban refused to hand over Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed some 3,000 Americans.
The letter includes the names of seven evangelical leaders, including representatives of World Relief, Bethany Christian Services and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“As the United States withdraws its military presence from Afghanistan, we are reminded of your commitment to stand with our Afghan allies who put themselves and their families at risk by standing with and supporting the mission of the United States government,” the letter says. “In offering the opportunity for resettlement to the United States, you echoed a promise that the U.S. government has made repeatedly over the past two decades.
“Despite the deteriorating situation,” the letter continues, “it is of utmost moral urgency that the U.S. government keeps our commitment, ensuring that those who qualify for Special Immigrant Visas as a result of their service to the United States are safely evacuated from Afghanistan and to a safe location for processing, along with their immediate families. We recognize and lament that it has become increasingly difficult to safely evacuate our allies. However, giving up on these brave individuals is simply not an option.”
Christians, the letter says, “believe that each person is made with intrinsic value in the image of God, and we cannot treat any person’s life as expendable.”
“Our government has a particular obligation to those who are now facing threats upon their lives due to their service to the United States, and to go back on our commitment to them would be a moral failing with reverberating consequences for decades to come,” the letter says.
The coalition also urges Biden to assist women and religious minorities.
“[T]here are many other Afghans likely to be at risk of persecution under Taliban rule, including Christians and other religious minorities, women and girls who have pursued the opportunity for education, and others associated with the U.S. presence in Afghanistan who may not qualify for Special Immigrant Visas,” the coalition says in the letter. “The United States should do everything reasonably possible to protect these individuals and, should they make the decision that they must flee as refugees, prioritize them for resettlement to the United States.”
Evangelical churches in the U.S., the letter says, “stand ready to welcome persecuted individuals and families resettled to their communities.”
The letter includes the names of seven evangelical leaders: Myal Greene, president and CEO of World Relief; Shirley V. Hoogstra, president of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities; Hyepin Im, president and CEO of Faith and Community Empowerment; Walter Kim, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; Daniel Patterson, acting president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; Chris Palusky, president and CEO of Bethany Christian Services; and Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Christophe Cerisier
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.