Culture Friday – Genocide in Nigeria


MARY REICHARD: It’s Friday the 18th of September, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up: Culture Friday.

AUDIO: The Fulani militants came out of nowhere and just started shooting.

This is from an eyewitness of an attack on Christians in Nigeria this summer. You may have noticed the term “Fulani militants.” 

To explain: The Fulani are believed to be the world’s largest nomadic group—about 20 million people dispersed across Western Africa. 

According to Open Doors, the Fulani are engaged in a campaign that can be described as ethnic cleansing of the Middle Belt of Nigeria. The middle belt is exactly what it describes, the part of the country that separates the north from the south. 

In one of the states of the middle belt, Fulani militants are waging “a massive campaign to displace indigenous Christian farmers.”

REICHARD: Nigeria is among the countries where Christians are most in danger for practicing their faith. The country ranks number 12 on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List. 

The group Christian Solidarity International issued a genocide warning in Nigeria in response to the rising violent conflict caused by Islamic militants.

EICHER: Let’s hear a bit more of that eyewitness from the July attack.

AUDIO: I am from the Kagoro tribe. Our village was attacked on July 19th. So there we were at the wedding celebrating. The children were dancing. The Fulani militants came out of nowhere and just started shooting. The children were just running. They followed them and shot them down. They shot over 17 people. We took those we could to the hospital. Some we lost along the way. And the rest are in the hospital struggling.

John Stonestreet joins us for Culture Friday. John is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.

REICHARD: John, good morning.

JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning!

EICHER: John, you were part of a panel this week—a bipartisan group—trying to call attention to this human-rights crisis and specifically trying to get the attention of the White House. Please do talk a bit about this situation in Nigeria, but I would like to know whether you expect to hear anything from the State Department or the White House.

STONESTREET: I’m encouraged because of the attention that the good work of ICON, the International Conference on Nigeria, is getting. On this panel on Wednesday, my comments were really two-fold. First, is that there was a very carefully used word throughout the press conference that I participated in, the panel I was one. And it was the word genocide. Genocide has been very carefully defined for official reasons and for good reasons, so that we have something to escalate a crisis when it needs to be escalated in the attention of political figures or governments. By every aspect of the official definition of genocide, what Christians there in the northern part of that country have faced—first Boko Haram and then the Fulani militants—qualifies under this definition. And the person on the panel who so specifically used that term over and over and over and has the street cred, really, to do it is former Representative Frank Wolf who served in the U.S. House for 30 years and during that time became known as an incredible champion of religious freedom both here and abroad. What Frank really encouraged over and over and over was the appointment of a special envoy, much like what has happened before by the president, by the secretary of state. These people can basically go into these situations with all of the force of the U.S. government. And that’s what we’re all hoping to hear as a result of this gathering and as a result of the ongoing advocacy by Congressman Wolf, Congressman Smith, as well as ICON. 

We were also joined on Wednesday by two others, which are really interesting. The first was Representative Tulsi Gabbard. She, of course, also this week—and I thanked her for this in my comments—immediately came out and condemned Netflix, unequivocally, of their exploitation of pre-teen girls in the movie Cuties. I was really grateful for that. Obviously we would disagree on all kinds of things, but when it comes to that which she considers to be wrong, she doesn’t seem to hedge at all.

EICHER: No, she doesn’t. She is not an afraid person.

STONESTREET: Well, she’s not. And she’s unequivocal in her condemnation of what’s happening in Nigeria. 

And then finally we were joined—and I say finally, but obviously he stole the show because he’s bigger than all of us and he also has this enormous presence and an incredible platform that he’s been using to defend the unborn as well as now to defend persecuted Christians in Nigeria and elsewhere, and that’s Benjamin Watson, who retired from the NFL and has just become an incredible voice. 

Let me just say one more thing. On that website, ICONhelp.org, they have put together a calendar and you can actually just walk day-by-day, it looks like the calendar you’d have on any other app on your phone or on your laptop. And each day they are documenting, and this only goes back right now to about Christmas of 2019, so it’s not that long ago. But they’re documenting day by day by day what’s happening to Christians in Nigeria and the northern parts of Nigeria—how many are killed, how many are abducted, how many are injured. In the last week, over 20 Nigerian Christians have been killed and over 60 have been abducted. And that’s just within the last week. And then if you go all the way back just to Christmas of 2019, you can see day by day that this is one of the great human rights tragedies of our day.

REICHARD: You mentioned Benjamin Watson, the Super Bowl champion, one of the panelists on Nigeria. 

Watson, I understand, has made a foray into documentary film?

EICHER: He has. He’s executive producer of “Divided Hearts of America.” Just out yesterday, let’s hear a short bit of the trailer.

AUDIO: When does a person get rights? 

When does a person get rights? When a person’s a person. 

When is a person a person? 

And that’s the thing. When a, when a child is born, then the child is a child. 

… There is no personhood under law for fetuses. We don’t have that in this country. 

… Abortion is targeting black America. That’s not an accident. That’s genocide.

REICHARD: Hard-hitting stuff.

STONESTREET: Yeah, this is one of the reasons I’m a bigger fan of Benjamin Watson off the field than even on the field. He is just using this platform—I was at a gathering, I know that sounds like a long time ago, and it was right before all the lockdowns of the pandemic, hosted by Live Action. This is the group that Lila Rose runs in LA in which they awarded champions of life and a number of people were honored. Benjamin Watson was one of them. And the reason is he has been just unafraid to not only tackle those issues—he has been outspoken, too, when it comes to the police conflict and police brutality, the issues within the African American community with policing and sentencing laws and everything else. But he’s also been just ferociously clear on the issue of life. And now, as he’s wading into this territory that a lot of African American leaders and a lot of even pro-life leaders themselves are fear to tread, which is the imbalanced and overwhelming targeting of abortion against the black community in America and how that is not a bug of the abortion industry in America, it’s been a feature since the very beginning. It’s built into the system. It’s part of the hardware or the DNA of the whole system. And he’s wading into that here and he’s doing it in a very, very powerful way. So, I look forward—I’ve seen the trailer, I haven’t seen the film—Overall I look forward to seeing it.

EICHER: Yeah it’s an amazing thing. It’s part of one of the things that we have talked about—and it’s been awhile since we brought this up, the idea of making culture to try to roll back this terrible scourge from our country.

STONESTREET: Yeah, Andy Crouch says something in, I think, his book Culture Making is that those of us who really advocate worldview thinking, the danger for us is to think analysis changes things. You can’t change things without analysis, but analysis itself is not enough to think about something, to categorize something. There has to be some level of creating cultural artifacts. We can certainly see this both across human history. Anytime there’s been a social revolution—if you’re talking about the Reformation, it was the printing press. If you’re talking about the sexual revolution, it was porn and the pill. And just the absolute necessity of—the technological revolution takes on a new level with the iPhone. You just have part of the human condition, part of the human reality, part of the human story is that we make stuff. We do stuff with the world that we have. Which, by the way, also has implications on why economic theories need to take into account not only that humans consume but that humans produce. And, anyway, that’s probably another conversation for another time, but it’s an important aspect. We’re not talking about anomalies here, we’re talking about this is what humans do. They actually do stuff with the world and they tell stories about it. And that’s what we’re seeing here from Benjamin Watson about something that needs to be addressed and it’s the worst kept secret about abortion in America, but too many people are too afraid to say anything about it. I’m grateful for his leadership in speaking up.

EICHER: I was about to say, John, you sounded a little bit like David Bahnsen talking about supply side economics.

STONESTREET: [Laughs] I’ll just let that go.

EICHER: Yeah, it’s high praise. 

John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. John, thanks so much!

STONESTREET: Thank you.


(AP Photo/Chris Carlson) New England Patriots ‘ Benjamin Watson speaks during the NFL Players Association annual state of the union news conference on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, in Miami Beach, Fla.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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