Panel discusses persecution, religious freedom abroad

Since the Islamic State began seizing territory in Syria in early 2013, Western governments and people alike have found it difficult to find a way to help those affected by the crisis.

Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr, alongside former U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, Pastor Jalil Dawood and Jason Peters participated in an evening panel on Thursday discussing the difficulties of addressing the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, northern Africa and other areas of the world occupied by extremist terrorist organizations.

“The question is, ‘What can we do?’” said Dr. David Corey, associate professor in the department of political science. “We all want to know what we can do. I’ve been to many panels with many different speakers and they have little to say what you can do. This panel is different.”

The discussion began with a series of short presentations by each member of the panel and a brief opening by Starr.

“My dear friends, regardless of your politics – this has nothing to do with politics, it has everything to do with freedoms and who we are as human beings – resist that siren song of curtailing the freedom of religion to simply mean where you can go to church or synagogue, or mosque, or not, as you will,” Starr said.

Starr’s presentation was followed by former Wolf, who is known for his longtime advocacy of the issue of religious freedom in Washington.

“I personally believe that religious freedom is the modern-day human rights issue of our time, both domestic and international,” Wolf said.

Wolf further discussed how serious the issue of Christian persecution is in the Middle East.

“Today, genocide is taking place in Iraq and Syria,” Wolf said. “And, with some exceptions, the church in the West has been silent.”

At the conclusion of his speech, Wolf explained how the Christian community and even individuals can act to help solve this growing problem.

“I believe people of faith play a vital role in informing their friends and neighbors and congregations to help save Christians and Christianity in the Cradle of Christendom. I believe that we must act.” Wolf said.