Persecution of Middle East Christians to Be Addressed by Baylor University Panel

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Persecution of Middle East Christians to Be Addressed by Baylor University Panel
Panelists will be Baylor President Ken Starr, former Congressman Frank Wolf, World Refugee Care founder Jalil Dawood and Cole Richards of The Voice of the Martyrs
Newswise — As the global persecution of Christians continues, Baylor University President and Chancellor Ken Starr, former Congressman Frank Wolf, Pastor Jalil Dawood, founder of Word Refugee Care, and Cole Richards of The Voice of the Martyrs will discuss the critical issue at Baylor on Thursday, April 21, 2016.

The goal for the panel discussion — “The Persecuted Church” — is to call for a change in the attitudes of American churches and a new United States policy. It comes amid beheadings, mutilations, torture and rape of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.

“As a self-professed Christian university, we dare not be silent and do nothing in these times,” said D.H. Williams, Ph.D., professor of patristics and historical theology in the department of religion in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences. “We want to do more than increase awareness. We want to suggest plans that our student body and local churches can rise to, and concrete ideas — perhaps the creation of a political and military safe zone, wherever that might be. What do we do to dispute the great suspicion that falls on refugees, even if they are Christian?”

The event, free and open to the public, will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Baylor Sciences Building Room B-110, 101 Bagby Ave. on the Baylor campus.

The Obama administration officially announced recently that the group calling itself the Islamic State is committing genocide against Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) has filed legal briefs in international courts to provide Christians vital legal protections. More than 450,000 people globally signed a petition circulated by ACLJ to urge the recognition of genocide and protection of Christians.

According to the International Society for Human Rights, a secular observatory based in Frankfurt, Germany, 80 percent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed at Christians. Statistically speaking, that makes Christians by far the most persecuted religious body on the planet.

Panelists who will discuss implications of persecution for Christians will include:
• Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr: Judge Starr has been among the keynote speakers at recent international conferences on global religious freedom, including “Under Caesar’s Sword: The International Conference on Christian Response to Persecution” at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome in December 2015 and “Christianity and Freedom: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives” conference, also in Rome, in December 2013. In addition to serving as president and chancellor at Baylor, Judge Starr is a member of the faculty at Baylor Law School as The Louise L. Morrison Chair of Constitutional Law. He has argued 36 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including 25 cases during his service as solicitor general of the United States from 1989-1993. Judge Starr is also a part of the Christianity and Freedom Project headed by the Religious Freedom Project of the Berkley Center at Georgetown University.
• Frank Wolf, a Congressman from 1981 to 2014: He worked tirelessly for legislation on human rights and religious freedom. He is the author of the International Religious Freedom Act, creating the International Religious Freedom Office at the State Department headed by an ambassador-at-large. In 2015, Wolf was appointed the first holder of the Jerry and Susie Wilson Chair in Religious Freedom at Baylor. He also joined the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, a newly created religious freedom group, as Distinguished Senior Fellow.
• Jalil Dawood, pastor of the Arabic Speaking Church in Dallas and founder of World Refugee Care: He fled his homeland in Iraq in 1982 during the war with Iran. After beginning a new life in the United States, Dawood made it his mission to help rebuild broken refugee lives in the United States and displaced families in areas like Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
• Cole Richards, executive vice president of The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM): VOM ministers internationally by aiding and serving with Christians who are severely persecuted for their faith. Richards came on staff with VOM in 2006 after living and ministering in a least-reached and restricted nation in the Middle East where he, with his wife and children, reached out to Muslims and supported persecuted Christian house church networks.
Last year was the worst year for Christian persecution on record, with more than 7,000 Christians slaughtered, said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
Other facts from ACLJ:
• In 2003, there were more than 2 million Christians in Iraq. Today, only thousands remain, as they have been killed or forced by the Islamic State or its jihadi predecessors to flee.
• Christians have been specifically targeted by ISIL in Iraq and Syria for their faith. Militants have marked Christians’ homes with the letter N (for Nazarene) and destroyed historic churches and Christian villages.
• More than 7.6 million Christians have been displaced since the beginning of the war in Syria, with fewer than 20 percent of its Christian population remaining. Islamic militants continue to be bent on eradicating Christian presence and influence in the region.
• Iraqi government ID cards have a section for religion, making it easy to discriminate against Christians when they seek to obtain aid.
For more information about ACLJ, visit or


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.