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A. Christian van Gorder, Board of Contributors: It’s high time Americans recognized Armenian genocide 100 years ago

A. Christian van Gorder, an associate professor of religion at Baylor University, is an ordained pastor with the American Baptist Churches and served as associate pastor in Burton, Mich., and interim pastor in Conneaut, Penn…Adolf Hitler, before launching the Holocaust against Europe’s Jews, asked, “After all, who today speaks of the Armenians?” One hundred years ago this year, more than 1.5 million Armenian Christians were massacred by agents of the Turkish government.

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A. Christian van Gorder, an associate professor of religion at Baylor University, is an ordained pastor with the American Baptist Churches and served as associate pastor in Burton, Mich., and interim pastor in Conneaut, Penn.
A. CHRISTIAN VAN GORDER Board of Contributors
Adolf Hitler, before launching the Holocaust against Europe’s Jews, asked, “After all, who today speaks of the Armenians?” One hundred years ago this year, more than 1.5 million Armenian Christians were massacred by agents of the Turkish government.
Men of all ages were shot, crucified, stabbed; women and girls of all ages — often in front of their husbands and families — were raped before being killed. Even children were tortured and murdered in every barbaric way imaginable. People were set on fire and forced to eat their own body parts. Tens of thousands of Armenians were sent to the desert to starve.
Armenian Christians today are at the forefront in speaking up for their Syrian and Iraqi sisters and brothers suffering at the hands of terrorists who murder in God’s name. Their Christian compassion springs from the searing memories of their own horrific experiences. They know what can happen when Christians are abandoned and forgotten while surrounded by neighbors who hate them simply because of their faith. We are so blessed with many precious freedoms here in America. People of all faiths in America need also to offer more vigorous support for the persecuted Christians of the Middle East. We cannot blindly look the other way while our dear sisters and brothers are suffering.
Armenians formed the first Christian-led kingdom on earth. Yet their contributions to the world’s artistic and intellectual riches across three millennia have been largely forgotten. Today’s Turkish government has sought to erase Armenians from the pages of their history, yet these ghosts and legacies will not quietly vanish. Why do we tolerate our government’s tepid unwillingness to confront these bigoted genocide denialists?
Before becoming president, Sen. Obama publicly pledged that, if elected, he would recognize as fact the 1915 killing of 1.5 million Armenian Christians as an act of genocide. President Obama has yet to keep this promise. The Turkish government, to this day, has denied that a genocide took place. Now is the time for the United States to join dozens of other nations (France, Canada, etc.) who have acknowledged the Armenian genocide. It is the morally right thing to do.
The facts of history should not become political footballs to be rationalized away by those who deny these killings as a byproduct of war among rivals when, in fact, it was a war of extermination. Why does our nation prevaricate in the face of Turkish denials of these hellish atrocities? Because Turkey is a major American military ally who hosts a huge air force base in Turkey.
None of us can solve all of the nightmarish problems of the world, but each of us can make some concrete contribution for change. All of us can pray and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Write, call or email your representatives as well as Obama. Support organizations are helping persecuted believers worldwide — and especially the plights of Christians, Yazidis and the Baha’i — who are suffering and dying for their faiths in Syria, Iraq and other Muslim-majority nations. Remember the genocide of 1.5 million Armenian Christians and insist that those who deny the grim facts of their genocidal history are held to account. Do something. As Theodore Roosevelt challenged, “Do what you can where you are with what you have.”
A. Christian van Gorder, an associate professor of religion at Baylor University, is an ordained pastor with the American Baptist Churches and served as associate pastor in Burton, Michigan, and interim pastor in Conneaut, Pennsylvania. He is the author of numerous books, including “Islam, Peace and Social Justice,” “Violence in God’s Name: Christian and Muslim Relations in Nigeria” and “No God but God: A Path to Muslim-Christian Discussions About the Nature of God.”

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