Now that the dust has settled after the recent In Defense of Christians (IDC) Gala dinner in Washington on 10 September 2014, I feel it is appropriate to comment because of the nature of my work on inter-religious relations and reconciliation in Britain and around the world.
My observation was of a large gathering of people, particularly connected to Iraq and Syria, experiencing very real and personal pain, and had come together to represent relatives either displaced, persecuted, missing, or murdered. In my own address and in my general view as a Christian and a minister I believe there is complete clarity that advocacy must be for all who suffer persecution, Christian or otherwise, and that this is a time for collaboration to this end.
As mentioned in my previous statement of 10 September 2014, “Christians, along with those who live by faith, morals, and ethics, and the international community, must collaborate to address this threat against not only innocent civilians, but our way of life as we know it today.” Having spoken at this IDC Summit on the plight of Christians in the Middle East, and particularly in Iraq and Syria, I take personal exception to sweeping statements made about those in attendance as exercising “bigotry and hatred…against Jews and Israel”. In light of the current very real challenges, this is not a time for such divisive and inflammatory language that demonises communities and causes rifts between them when their collaboration is most needed.
As servants of the people, clergy, politicians or otherwise, we are accountable and responsible as representatives, stewards and reconcilers to deal at the most difficult of times and circumstances with the most peaceful means to overcome apparent misunderstanding and conflict.