National Faith Advisory Board - Live Now
I Prayed have prayed
Lord, we pray for Your protection on our brothers and sisters in Christ in Nigeria. May the light, love, and peace of Christ shine in that land in this Christmas season.

While closing up shop for the holidays, the U.S. Senate approved a new U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom. And it may not be a moment too soon. The Biden Administration needs loud voices within its ranks for religious freedom now more than ever.

Why do I say that?

Well, around Christmas I cannot help thinking about my place in a much bigger family of faith. And that often brings to my mind brother and sisters in Christ around the world who face existential threats every day — and especially on our holiest days of the year. They need all the support they can get from us and our top officials.

So my heart was saddened when I saw this statement from a leading Catholic bishop in Nigeria. In a video featured at a Religious Freedom Institute event on December 16, Bishop Stephen Dami Mamza testified to the heartbreaking violence continuing against Christians in Nigeria. And he expressed dismay that the U.S. State Department recently cut Nigeria from its list of worst religious freedom offenders.

Mamza wants an explanation. He said, “Give us the data. How is it that Nigeria is different from Nigeria of two years ago?”

That is an important question. And it’s one numerous advocates and legislators want answers to. After all, Nigeria had just been added to the Country of Particular Concern (CPC) list last year by the Trump Administration for its practices related to “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.”

That was a bold move by the Pompeo State Department when you consider that Nigeria has the largest economy and population in Africa. In fact, the United Nations estimates Nigeria will overtake the U.S. as the world’s third most populous nation behind China and India by 2050. It also has a representative government, which means it had the dishonor of being the first democracy to receive a CPC designation — a label that puts it in the company of countries like China, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.

But according to many religious liberty advocates, the CPC listing was warranted. Open Doors USA reports that more Christians are killed in Nigeria just for identifying with Christ than in any other nation. Also, last fall Reverend Johnnie Moore, then a Commissioner on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), told the Daily Signal that at the height of the genocidal ISIS regime in Syria and Iraq, the religious violence in Nigeria was worse.

So for many religious liberty advocates, the State Department’s removal of Nigeria from the CPC list was a shock. Particularly so when Secretary of State Antony Blinken actually referenced Nigeria’s poor record while rolling out the administration’s annual IRF report — a precursor to CPC designations — in May. USCIRF was “appalled” by the de-listing, and former congressman and long-time human rights champion Frank Wolf (R-Va.) said the move was “a victory for the terrorists.”

Sam Brownback, IRF Ambassador in the Trump Administration, lamented, “This rewards the Nigerian government for tolerating severe religious freedom violations and sends a message to extremists that their actions will continue to go unpunished.”

“People of faith in Nigeria will bear the fallout of this decision,” he said.

And that is what I am especially concerned about.

David Curry, Open Doors USA president, noted in a recent article that Nigerian Christians have received threatening letters since the State Department let their country off the CPC hook. Curry said that those letters — “startling even for Nigeria” — essentially told the Christians to abandon their churches or face “ferocious” consequences.

Curry added, “In addition to physical assault, the country’s radical extremists are now using fear and intimidation tactics to terrify Nigerian Christians and send a clear message: You are not welcome here.”

Will you pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Nigeria, particularly during the Christmas season?

Pray, too, that voices of religious liberty advocates, including those insiders like new IRF Ambassador Rashad Hussain, will persuade the Biden Administration to take a stronger stance in defense of Christians and other religious minorities under attack in Nigeria and around the world.

(Aaron Mercer is a Contributing Writer with two decades of experience in Washington, D.C.’s public policy arena. Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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Judy Orr
January 7, 2022

Oh, Lord, have mercy on the Christians of Nigeria! Cover and surround them with your army of angels; keep and protect them from the evil one and those who would murder, mutilate, and abuse our sisters and brothers there. May Your Word continue to go forth and many believe in You for their salvation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Dolores Nussbaum
December 31, 2021

I pray often for my Nigerian friends who are struggling with terrorism there. Our family spent two years in that country, so I very aware of the dangers that are present today. The situation is serious and very dangerous for anyone who is a Christian.

Elizabeth O
December 29, 2021

I pray over the Land the word of the Lord and it shall come to pass in Jesus Name Amen
New Living Translation
Isaiah 9:1
Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever
Isaiah 9:2
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.

December 28, 2021

I am a member of Open Doors and receive their updates and those poor people never know when they can relax even. They see their loved ones butchered, children witness these murders from their hiding places. I pray dear Lord and Savior for protection of the precious family of God and to wake up our leaders to do so much more to protect them. Too not is cruelty beyond belief. In Jesus mighty name I pray.

karen misorek
December 28, 2021

I will pray for Christians in Nigeria

Mar sand
December 28, 2021

Yes, the U.S.A. needs to remain in contact with the Christians in Nigeria. So, please keep Nigeria on the CPC list. Thank you, sirs.

Sede O
December 28, 2021

Thank you for standing with Nigerian Christians. It is quite surprising that the US govt suddenly thinks Nigeria should no longer be on the CPC list.
Our GOD reigns and will continue to fight for His own.
Psalm 2 is speaking over the nations.
Soon we shall sing the song of victory!!
GOD bless you.
GOD bless and heal Nigeria, USA and Israel.

Darlene Estlow
December 28, 2021

Father, I pray for my Christian brothers and sisters in Nigeria. May they feel your sustaining presence. I pray our state department would put Nigeria back on the CPC list. Give IRF Ambassador Rashad Hussain favor as he urges President Biden to take a stronger stance for Christians and other religious minorities.

Gerald Schork
December 28, 2021

May the Lord have mercy on the Nigerian Christians and as His word promises turn that which is meant for evil to good and His glory.
May the Lord tear down every level of darkness from the U. S. government,
International entities, Nigerian Government to the lowest Niegerian official.
May the Lord turn the terrorists such as the Boko Harem and Fulani tribesmen to Evangelists for Christ.
May our brothers and sisters persist in there faith and not faint.

Robert VanEvery
December 28, 2021

Praying (and will write, too) that the Biden administration will revise their tepid stance against Nigeria for the recent attacks on Christians and other religions minorities in that country.

Joseph Blanton
December 28, 2021

I pray for them every day. How about you?🙏


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