Imagine that you are a government official in a country I will call “M.” Despite your efforts to promote economic growth, unemployment and poverty rates remain high. As a result, many of your citizens have gone abroad in search of work.
What has been called “the human face of a long catalogue of socio-economic ills” are the many thousands of orphaned and abandoned children living throughout your country. Their plight has been the subject of news reports and even an award-winning film.
So what do you do about it? Well, if you are Morocco, you declare war on those seeking to help them.
In early March Moroccan police entered the Village of Hope, a Christian-run orphanage, and interrogated its children and staff. They asked questions like, “How do you pray?” They searched the compound for Bibles and other evidence of “proselytizing.”
They didn’t find any. An orphanage officer, Jim Broadbent, told Time magazine the orphanage took great care to obey laws against proselytizing. It didn’t matter: Broadbent and the rest of staff were summarily deported a few days later. The heartbreaking scene of the children being torn apart from the only family they had ever known was something Broadbent will never forget.
He’s not alone: according to Time, in Morocco, “deportations are part of what appears to be a widespread crackdown on Christian aid workers.” At least 40 foreign Christian aid workers have been deported under similar circumstances. This despite the fact that, like the Village of Hope, nearly all of them had been certified by the government as having met its standards, including those against proselytizing, some for more than a decade.
This certification makes the government’s claims that the aid workers were “trying to undermine the faith of Muslims,” hard to believe.
The real explanation lies not in the actions of the workers but the government’s desire to appease Islamists. Measures like this one, enforcing the Ramadan fast, and harassing Moroccan Christians have the added benefit of diverting attention from Morocco’s “long catalogue of socio-economic ills.”
Of course, the price for this diversion is paid by those least able to afford it: orphaned and homeless children. The government that can’t or won’t help them has declared war on those able and willing to do so.
What makes this especially infuriating is that Morocco receives approximately $140 million every year from the American taxpayers through the Millennium Challenge Corporation or MCC. These grants are intended to promote sustainable economic growth and are conditioned on “ruling justly.”
As representative Frank Wolf has argued, however vague “ruling justly” might be, it at least includes persecuting religious minorities. Wolf has suggested that Morocco be suspended from the program if it continues on its present course. I couldn’t agree more. And if you agree, tell your congressman to vote with Frank Wolf when this issue comes before Congress. If you’ve seen my Two-Minute Warning this week, you know how important it is to defend religious liberties here at home, and to protect widows and orphans in places like Morocco.