Why In Defense of Christians?
The name “In Defense of Christians” was inspired by an open letter from human rights activist Armin Wegner to Adolf Hitler in 1933 entitled, “In Defense of the Jews.” In this letter, Wegner publicly condemned Hitler and the Nazis:
“I have both the right and the duty to appeal to you, for my heart is seething with indignation, and I was not endowed with the gift of speech merely to make myself an accomplice by remaining silent. The Jews have survived captivity in Babylon, slavery in Egypt, the Inquisition in Spain, the oppression of the crusades and sixteen hundred pogroms in Russia. The resilience that has enabled this people to survive to the present day will also enable them to overcome this threat. But the opprobrium and ignominy, which now adhere to Germany as a result of this, will not be forgotten for a long time! … Though all prefer today to stand mute, I for one can no longer.”
Two decades earlier, in 1915, serving as a German officer in Turkey during World War I, Wegner documented the genocide of one million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Wegner’s photographs are some of the only to have documented the incident. His work to stop the Armenian Genocide would fail, just as his calls to prevent the Holocaust. Nevertheless, Wegner committed his life to the defense of vulnerable minorities.
Wegner’s heroism was humble and even to this day his name is not widely known. It is with this example and in this spirit of humility that IDC seeks to serve Christians and all who suffer oppression at the hands of those who would deny them the freedom of religion, or even their lives.
“In Defense of Christians,” like “In Defense of the Jews,” may be understood to mean the defense of all human beings and their fundamental human rights, and the protection of human dignity.
What is IDC?
In Defense of Christians (IDC) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization whose mission is to heighten awareness among policymakers and the general public of the existence of ancient and often persecuted minority communities in the Middle East, particularly Christians. IDC will also conduct policy advocacy for vulnerable Christians and other religious minorities.
Through greater awareness and advocacy, IDC hopes to influence the U.S. and foreign governments to adopt policies that will safeguard and empower minority religious communities in the Middle East, especially those vulnerable to violence, marginalization, and persecution.
As a 2011 Pew Forum study concluded, Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world. Since the publication of that study, the plight of Christians and other religious minorities, particularly in the greater Middle East, has grown even more perilous. This is a grave concern for all who value fundamental human rights and the dignity of the human person.
This trend toward marginalization, discrimination, and persecution worldwide has unfortunately coincided with the retreat of many western democracies on the promotion of religious freedom and the freedom of conscience. This is even true of the United States, which has failed in recent years to lead the struggle for this basic human right. As a result, various countries and groups have steadily driven religious minorities from the public square, a fact with serious consequences for religious minorities.
IDC was formed in response to Archbishop Francis Chullikatt’s exhortation in his keynote address at the 2012 National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, in which he called upon all Americans to take concrete action to help those suffering persecution in the Middle East – a call that was echoed by Pope Benedict months later on his historic trip to Lebanon.
IDC utilizes print, television, and online media, radio, video, and various public outreach programs to raise awareness among the general public of the existence of these communities, the dangers they face, and the need to press public servants into action on their behalf.