US Delegation of Evangelicals in Morocco React to Deportations
MOROCCO, May 14 /Christian Newswire/ — A delegation of evangelical church leaders visiting Morocco at the urging of various Christian ministry organizations working inside and outside this North African country, today commented from the capital of Rabat about recent deportations of Christians and the announcement by US Representative Frank Wolf that he will hold hearings on the matter next month.
Spokesman for the delegation, the Reverend Dr. David Anderson of Sarasota, Florida, said,
“Our delegation came to Morocco to quietly pursue a better understanding of the complex circumstances surrounding these deeply troubling events. Moroccan culture highly values personal relationships and those of us who have experience here in Morocco feel strongly that working person to person is the best way to find a lasting resolution to a serious problem. Talking with government officials, church leaders and others directly involved has only strengthened this resolve.
These developments are not in keeping with Morocco’s historically warm welcome of a Christian presence within its borders and what we have found so far indicates Christians have not been singled out for expulsion, as recent deportations have involved at least as many Muslims as non-Muslims. We believe it is too early to hold hearings because much more time is needed to determine facts and to give this issue the attention it deserves. A public spectacle threatens to do more harm than good, and could have far reaching negative consequences inside and outside Morocco. We urge Congressman Wolf to postpone his hearings until more is learned about this difficult situation.”
Most of the recent deportations are based on allegations that the individuals violated restrictions on public proselytizing. “It’s not in anyone’s best interests to explore details of these allegations publicly,” Dr. Anderson continued. “This is better handled discretely and sensitively, especially considering the large number of Christians that live in Morocco.”
The delegation met with Moroccan government officials and church leaders. As a result the government issued an invitation to US congressional members and evangelical leaders to visit Morocco and discuss the situation.
The five-member delegation sponsored by the National Clergy Council in Washington, DC, traveled to Morocco Wednesday after meeting with offices of each of the members of the Lantos Human Rights Commission, the congressional panel that has oversight in this area.
Members of the National Clergy Council Delegation on Morocco:
The Reverend Dr. Kenneth Barney, New Antioch Baptist Church, Randallstown, Maryland
The Reverend Dr. David Anderson, Faith Baptist Church, Sarasota, Florida
The Reverend Dr. Rob Schenck, President, National Clergy Council and Chairman of the Evangelical Church Alliance International
The Reverend Patrick J. Mahoney, Executive Director, The Christian Defense Coalition, Washington, DC
The Reverend Dr. Harry Thomas, President, Come Alive International, Medford, New Jersey and American Producer of Friendship Festivals, Marrakech, Morocco.