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Bishop Arogundade of the Diocese of Ondo.Screenshot/YouTube

AKURE, Nigeria (LifeSiteNews) — A Catholic bishop in Nigeria has accused U.S. politicians of deliberately turning a blind eye to Christian persecution in his homeland.

Speaking to Catholic News Agency, Bishop Jude Arogundade of the south-western Nigerian Diocese of Ondo, stated that the Democrat Party avoids acknowledging Christian persecution in Nigeria. 

“Whenever the [U.S.] Democrats are in power they look away from the killings of Christians in Nigeria. It was very visible during Obama’s administration,” he stated. 

“We will keep up the pressure to get the world’s attention. Those who have died will not die in vain,” he stated

Arogundade made the comments in light of the U.S. State Department’s annual list of countries that engage in religious persecution of some kind, which was published on December 2.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s list included countries such as “Burma, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, the DPRK, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as Countries of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for having engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”

Blinken’s list also made mention of particular Muslim terrorist groups, including “al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin, the Taliban, and the Wagner Group.”

READ: Nigerian bishop begs European Parliament to help stop Islamic terrorism against Christians

However, Blinken fell short of naming Nigeria among the list of countries that either practice or permit religious persecution. 

In a statement, Blinken claimed that “[w]e will continue to carefully monitor the status of freedom of religion or belief in every country around the world and advocate for those facing religious persecution or discrimination.”

Nigeria has been a hotbed for religious persecution of Christians for many years. According to a recent report by the NGO Open Doors, 4,650 Christians have been killed in Nigeria in 2022 so far, many of them being murdered by Islamic extremist groups like Boko Haram.

Converts from Islam to Christianity can face harassment or death simply for the act of converting. In other areas, while they may not face death, Christians are persecuted through restrictions on daily life: being denied water or basic supplies, left out of humanitarian relief packages, and subjected to trial in Sharia courts. Young Christian girls are also regularly abducted for forced marriages with Muslim men, a practice which Open Doors stated was supported by “ruling emirs.”

Open Doors wrote that Nigeria is “manifestly failing to protect Nigerian Christians’ fundamental rights,” thereby violating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

READ: Fifty dead in terrorist attack on Nigerian Catholic church

International Christian aid organization Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has also long highlighted the plight of persecuted Christians in the country, writing that Nigeria is home to more persecution “than anywhere else in the world.”

The charity referenced the terrorist attack earlier this year, at which time a gunman killed 41 people, many of whom were children, during Pentecost Sunday Mass at a Catholic church in Arogundade’s diocese of Ondo. In its Nigeria 2022 appeal, ACN wrote: 

Father Andrew Adeniyi Abayomi who was saying the Mass, said: ‘I could not run as I was surrounded by children, while some adults clung to me, even inside my chasuble. I shielded them just as a hen shields her chicks. I heard the voices of my parishioners: ‘Father, please save us; Father pray.’’

Meanwhile, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has hit back against Blinken’s move to exclude both Nigeria and India from the religious persecution list, calling the decision “inexplicable.” The Commission accused Blinken of “turning a blind eye to both countries’ particularly severe religious freedom violations.”

READ: Nigerian bishop begs European Parliament to help stop Islamic terrorism against Christians

“There is no justification for the State Department’s failure to recognize Nigeria or India as egregious violators of religious freedom, as they each clearly meet the legal standards for designation as CPCs,” the USCIRF stated.


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