WASHINGTON (BP) -- Voices from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean are calling for the United States government to do more to protect Nigeria's Christians from the Islamic terrorist organization Boko Haram.
Nigerian Christian leaders requested American help on a recent visit to Washington, and the Southern Baptist Convention's public policy entity urged members of Congress to support legislation requiring the State Department to report on whether Boko Haram qualifies for classification as a "foreign terrorist organization" (FTO).
|Last year, more than 765 churches were destroyed in the country, a Nigerian spokesman said. |
Boko Haram and its associates have killed more than 1,000 people in the west African country during the last 18 months, according to the State Department. Boko Haram took credit for July 7-8 attacks that killed about 100 members of the Church of Christ in Nigeria, including 50 who had taken refuge in a pastor's home, according to Open Doors News. Last year, more than 765 churches were destroyed in the country, a Nigerian spokesman said.
Speaking at a July 12 Washington briefing, the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) said the problem is a "jihadist, fundamentalist ideology."
Boko Haram "basically is a group that believes Nigeria should operate on Shariah law," Ayodele Joseph Oritsejafor said. "And they want to turn Nigeria into a Muslim country -- by force. And that's what they've always said."
The militant group has said, "[I]f Christians want peace in Nigeria, they must accept Islam, because Islam is the only religion," Oritsejafor told participants at a briefing sponsored by the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom.
The Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) hand-delivered a July 12 letter to 100 members of the House of Representatives to ask them to cosponsor the Boko Haram Terrorist Designation Act, H.R. 5822. The proposal calls for the secretary of state to explain why Boko Haram does not meet the criteria for FTO designation, if that is the department's decision. Read More