What the collapse of the Afghan government means for Christians and other religious minorities – getreligion


On October 19, 2001, as I was driving to a prayer breakfast in the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond, the radio crackled with news of US special forces on the ground in Afghanistan.

This was not a particularly shocking development since the airstrikes and missiles in retaliation for 9/11 had started 12 days earlier.

Then religion editor for Oklahoman, I quoted the breakfast keynote speaker – Steve Largent, then Congressman Professional Football Hall of Fame – in the story I wrote.

“We received a very important wake-up call,” Largent said on Friday morning. “Let’s not go back to sleep.”

All of us – at that time – felt an urgency about the war in Afghanistan and the effort to destroy Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network.

Almost 20 years later, my attention had shifted until Afghanistan hit the headlines again – in a major way – last week.

It’s impossible to keep up with all the rapid developments, but these stories explore compelling religious angles:

• Young Afghans share their thoughts on the rapidly changing life under the Taliban (by Meagan Clark, ReligionUnplugged)

• Refugee aid groups criticize Biden for tripping over evacuation of ‘desperate’ Afghans (by Emily McFarlan Miller and Jack Jenkins, Religious Information Service)

• The Taliban begins to target Christians while strengthening their control over desperate Afghans (by Mindy Belz, World)

• Afghan-American scholar agonizes over his homeland, attacks the Taliban, in the United States (by Mark A. Kellner, Washington Time)

Small numbers of Christians in Afghanistan have gone underground, expert says (by Mark A. Kellner, Washington Time)

Was Afghanistan worth it or was it wasted? Christians Lament, Pray, and Learn as Taliban Take Back Control (by Morgan Lee, Christianity today)

• As the Afghan government collapses, Christians work to help volunteers leave (by Cheryl Mann Bacon, Christian Chronicle)

• The Afghan government collapses, the Taliban take control: 5 essential readings (by Catesby Holmes, The conversation)

With the Taliban takeover, global Islam – and the press – have a lot at stake in the future (by Richard Ostling, Get religion)

Trying to spot religious “ghosts” in the dramatic fall of America’s version of Afghanistan and a new podcast, “When the Taliban Suppress, Will All the Victims Be Worth Covering in the News?” (by Terry Mattingly, Get religion)

• What Christian aid workers want you to know about Afghanistan (by Rebecca Hopkins, Christianity today)

Waiting for monday ReligionUnplugged podcast: Fernando Arroyo, Minister of Veterans Affairs in California, talks about his painful time as a paratrooper in Iraq and Afghanistan – and how his faith and guidance helped him overcome the depression, loneliness and PTSD that left him haunted after its deployment.

Now Arroyo is helping California veterans get out of homelessness and move on with their lives. You’ll definitely want to check out his conversation with Paul Glader, ReligionUnplugged’s editor-in-chief.

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