With the West on the run, increased activity by terrorists, and the Taliban inexorably exerting control across the country, we need to be aware of what is happening to real people, right now in Afghanistan. As news reports demonstrate, the Taliban is increasingly assertive against the vulnerable while the Biden administration seems to be blocking Christians and others from departing.
The following was provided to me directly from people on the front lines of this crisis.
For the past 20 years, religious minorities—especially Christians—have lived under constant threat. That did not change with the fall of the Taliban in 2001, causing the US government to routinely label Afghanistan as a religious freedom violator. In recent weeks, conditions have gotten so bad that religious minorities are fleeing the country. The government of India has pledged to resettle all Sikhs and Hindus. The last Jew left in June. Christians and Bahai’s have virtually no protection.
What are the conditions on the ground really like in the chaos of US withdrawal? We have received reports of the following:
- Taliban spies infiltrated crowds of refugees and recorded the names of families who may be Christian.
- Non-Christians posing as Christians to flee Afghanistan, which results in a misrepresentation of facts on the ground and in asylum processing.
- Children are being openly recruited to the Taliban and Islamist terrorist groups. Many are concerned that this will spread to schools and to compulsory local mosque activities. Christian converts face exposure from their own children and family members.
- Afghans with special immigration visas stuck just outside the Kabul airport remain stranded and now must go underground. They are increasingly easy prey for militants.
- Christians and other religious minorities are fearful of venturing out in public, despite their needs for groceries, medical assistance, and other basic necessities.
The fact that religious freedom for all and the equal citizenship of all adults—including women and religious minorities—never fully took root in Afghanistan is clearly a failure. The West looked the other way. We pulled our punches on the Afghanistan constitution and persecution across the country. None of us expect Afghanistan to look like Sweden, but it should have more of a flavor of Pakistan and India, where large swathes of the country are pro-democratic, despite terrorism, violence, criminality, and inequality.
Christians must pray for the persecuted Church, for the safety of all people (including non-Christians), and for the defeat of evil. It is not up to Christians outside of Afghanistan to decide whether or not individual Christians should choose to stay or to go. That is between those individuals and God. But we can advocate that they have the choice, and we can provide resources here to welcome them, should they choose to depart Afghanistan until conditions are safer. We must demand that the US and other governments not abandon Afghan citizens to the depredations of the Taliban. We should be looking for opportunities to support the needs of the oppressed through charitable giving. We must pray and act as we are able.