President Joe Biden has been taking some serious heat from Republicans – and a few people in his own party – as the chaotic and shocking images continue to emerge from Kabul. The U.S. has rushed in troops, transport planes and commanders to secure the airport in the capital city, seek Taliban guarantees of safe passage, and ramp up an airlift capable of ferrying between 5,000 and 9,000 people a day.
An estimated 10,000 to 12,000 Christians are in Afghanistan – all of them underground, all of them with a Taliban target on their backs. Thursday on American Family Radio, Gary Bauer of American Values expressed deep concern for his fellow Christians in the predominantly Muslim country.
"Christians who are in Afghanistan are in a lot more danger today than they were before Biden botched this withdrawal from Afghanistan," he stated. Bauer also argued that the administration's ineptness in helping them has sent a signal that Christians in other nations may face increased persecution.
"Because all over the world, on every Sunday, there are churches that are blown up [or] set on fire … or when Christians leave those churches, they're mowed down by jihadist fighters or by communist dictators," he lamented. "You name the enemy, the followers of Christ have many of them all over the world."
According to Religion News Service, the Taliban are going door to door, reportedly rifling through people's phones to look for any apps that would give them away as Christians.
"We're hearing from reliable sources that the Taliban demand people's phones, and if they find a downloaded Bible on your device, they will kill you immediately," said Dr. Rex Rogers, president of the Christian nonprofit organization SAT-7 North America.
"It's incredibly dangerous right now for Afghans to have anything Christian on their phones. The Taliban have spies and informants everywhere."
Officials in the Biden administration report they have been working to speed the evacuation of Americans, allies, and Afghan interpreters who desire to leave the country. Biden has stated he will try to get everyone out before his self-imposed August 31 deadline.
In Bauer's view, however, the evacuation efforts in Afghanistan have failed horribly – and he dreads what could happen under another three-plus years of a Biden administration.
Evangelical author and pastor Dr. Robert Jeffress spoke with American Family News about the situation on the ground in Kabul. The Dallas-based Southern Baptist pastor suggests this isn't be the time to point fingers, as Americans and their Afghani allies remain in harm's way and the dreaded Taliban are once again torturing that country.
"I think we need to remember we're all Americans right now," he begins, "and I think whether it was George W. Bush, who initiated the current conflict, or Donald Trump or Joe Biden – I think all three presidents were doing the best they could with the information that they had."
Jeffress notes that Biden is hardly the first to be humbled by the harsh and inhospitable country. "There's a reason Afghanistan has been a graveyard for not only mighty empires, but political pundits as well. There are no easy answers," he shares.
And Jeffress agrees with most observers that the Biden administration probably could have done a better job planning the exit. His great concern now, however, is for the people who have once again been put under the heel of the Taliban.
"There are Christians who are right now facing great persecution from the Taliban – and we need to pray for their safety and hopefully for their escape from this very dangerous situation," he offers. "[And] I share great concern about how the Taliban treats women."
The withdrawal's impact on mission work with Muslims
An authority on Christians in Afghanistan believes the lack of help in getting those converts out of harm's way will have international repercussions.
Patrick Sookhdeo, speaking from London, tells AFN he has firsthand knowledge of Afghanistan. He is with the Barnabas Fund and served as a cultural advisor to British and NATO forces in the Muslim country. Christian converts in Afghanistan, he says, feel they have been deserted – but that it goes deeper than that.
"What has happened in Afghanistan is sending a message to radical terrorist groups worldwide that they can up their stakes – which means we will see growing attacks on Christians and on Christian workers," he warns.
Afghan Christians feel betrayed by America – and bitter, he adds. "The Christians feel betrayed by their own missionaries, many of whom have chosen to flee and leave them behind and made no plans for them."
He suggests Christian organizations and the American government should have begun making plans for them when the Trump administration announced withdrawal and moved forward with evacuation.
"I think this is going to send a message across the world for Muslim converts … and I speak as one: if missionaries betray us the same way governments betray us, then [it begs the question:] Are they ever going to be wanted?"
Editor's note: Comments from Patrick Sookhdeo added after story was originally published.