The U.S. Commission's latest report on International Religious Freedom has just been released. The Commission documents repeated attacks and abuse of minority religious groups throughout the world. In the middle east, which seems to the prime and only focus of our new Congressman, Brad Schneider (D-10th), Eastern Orthodox Christians, who this past Sunday celebrated their Easter (Pascha), find themselves under repeated attack.
While Schneider during his last visit to Israel watched in awe when Israeli bombers attack Syria while the Obama Administration dithered on the growing menace and draws lines in the sand, "secular" Turkey continues to repress the religious freedoms of Christians and Jews within its borders and in the region where its troops continue to illegally occupy Cyprus for over three decades.
The Obama Administration's Commission report, which can be read here, makes for fascinating reading. A bitter dissent by several commission members complains that after spending three years on the Commission's "watch list" requiring regular monitoring, without significant improvement, Turkey was suddenly upgraded to a "country of particular concern" requiring little or no monitoring.
This should come as a news flash to the long suffering non-Muslim minority religions of Turkey which comprise one tenth of one percent of the total population, including Greek Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox Christians, Syriac Christians, Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians, Baha'is, Assyrian, Maronite, Chaldean and Nestorian Christians, Jews and Hindus.
They struggle in Turkey while the government confiscates their properties, imposes taxes designed to cause forfeiture of properties, closes schools and refuses to allow theological seminaries to open so that future priests and spiritual leaders can be trained and ordained. Being in a minority faith in Turkey and the other nations of the middle east, is a pretty miserable experience.
Yet the Wishful Thinking foreign policy of the Obama Administration suddenly says: "Hey, it's not so bad over there!" This after we watched a conclave of Roman Catholic Cardinals elect the new Pope of Rome with no government interference. When his counter-part in the Greek Orthodox Church is elected through the Holy Synod, the Turkish government has a right to veto the selection, and veto who sits on the Holy Synod.
By contrast, minority religions in Israel have far greater freedoms than in "secular" Turkey. The rest of the middle east continues to be a nightmare for those of minority religions. During Eastern Orthodox Holy Week in Syria, Muslim radicals kidnapped two Bishops, who remain missing as this is written.
It makes for interesting reading. Perhaps our current Congressman, Brad Schneider, can turn his focus away from Israel ever so briefly and condemn the Obama Administration for their "wishful thinking" report on religious freedoms in the Middle East?
Mr. Schneider can start by reading the angry, blistering dissents starting at page 277 of the report. Then he can follow up by reading the entire report. Maybe then his 100% support of Obama's policies will begin to crack ever so slightly.