By Bob Allen
The Southern Baptist Convention’s top public-policy expert joined Princeton University professor Robert George and numerous other intellectuals in urging the use of military force against a militant group seeking to set up an Islamic state across Sunni areas of Iraq and in Syria.
Russell Moore, president of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, added his name to a statement posted by George on a website called IraqRescue.org denouncing the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria — ISIS for short — for “conducting a campaign of genocide against Christians, Yazidis and others in Iraq.”
ISIS has targeted Iraq’s minority Christian and members of the Yazidi sect, a Kurdish-speaking group combining Shia and Sufi Islam with indigenous folk traditions, in its efforts to establish a caliphate, or Islamic state led by a supreme religious and political leader, in the Middle East.
Religious leaders termed the recent fall of Iraq’s largest Christian town a turning point toward ethnic cleansing, with ISIS reportedly killing people in the name of Allah and proclaiming that anyone who kills a Christian will go straight to heaven.
The Iraq Rescue group said “no options that are consistent with the principles of just war doctrine should be off the table” in stemming the ISIS advance. They advocated more than a short-term solution, claiming that “nothing short of the destruction of ISIS/ISIL as a fighting force will provide long-term protection of victims.” (Another English translation of the group’s name is Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, abbreviated ISIL.)
“None of us glorifies war or underestimates the risks entailed by the use of military force,” they said. “Where non-military means of resolving disputes and protecting human rights are available, we always and strongly favor those means.”
The signers said “the evidence is overwhelming” that non-military means cannot prevent further victimization of religious minorities in Iraq. They said President Obama was right to order targeted air strikes Aug. 7, but much more needs to be done and “there is no time to waste.”
“We call upon President Obama and the Congress of the United States to expand airstrikes against ISIS/ISIL with a view to eroding its military power, and to provide full air support for Kurdish and other forces fighting against ISIS/ISIL,” they said.
“Further, we endorse the Washington Post’s call for the United States to provide arms, ammunition and equipment to Kurdish forces, Sunni tribesmen and others who are currently hampered in their ability to fight ISIS/ISIL by a lack of sophisticated weapons and other resources. The U.S. should also assist with intelligence. We are hopeful that local forces, with adequate support and assistance from the U.S. and the international community, can defeat ISIS/ISIL.”
They also called on the U.S. to take the lead in providing food, water, medicine and other essential supplies for the humanitarian crisis facing the displaced and fleeing.