By Joseph C. DeCaro, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent
BAGHDAD, IRAQ (BosNewsLife)– An influential group dedicated to reportedly persecuted Christians worldwide warned Thursday, September 9, that minority Christians in Iraq face more tough times as American troops are returning to the United States.
Carl Moeller, who leads Open Doors USA, said President Barack Obama’s announcement ending the seven-year U.S. combat role in Iraq with “It’s time to turn the page,” may have been premature. “I believe that we’re turning this country over to a government that is in chaos,” added Moeller in comments obtained by BosNewsLife. “It is in transition at best; it hasn’t yet settled on a firm form of government. We have just basically said, ‘Please don’t disturb us as you collapse.'”
Moeller said he fears a diminished U.S. presence will put Iraq’s Christian minority at risk. “We have very clear indicators from the ground that the Christian community in Iraq is suffering greatly by increased violence between factions of Islam,” Moeller explained. “I’ve spoken at length with refugees all around the region [who are] saying it’s an unreported disaster: the extinction of the Christian community in Iraq.”
Moeller said Christian persecution “will accelerate” as the U.S. military moves out. In a recent Open Doors ranking of countries in which it claims Christians are most persecuted, Iraq ranked second only to North Korea.
There were at least an estimated 750,000 Christians in Iraq when the United States-led invasion began in 2003, but hundreds of thousands have since fled their homes and many stay in neighboring countries, according to rights and church groups.