Christmas holiday massacres in Nigeria, where more than 140 Christians were killed, is just the latest in continuing attacks against followers of Jesus Christ in that country. But it's not enough to place Nigeria on the Biden administration's list of "Countries of Particular Concern" in terms of violations of religious freedom.
Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Russia and others make the list, but not Nigeria – and that greatly concerns Sam Brownback, former U.S. Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom.
Though its constitution assures religious freedom, more than 50,000 Christians have been killed in Nigeria by Islamic extremists since 2009, according to the Nigerian-based research and investigative rights group the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law.
Attacks on Christian farming communities in 26 villages in Plateau State, beginning on Dec. 23, were led by suspected extremists among Fulani Muslim herdsman, according to Christianity Today.
"It's one of the most dangerous places on earth to be a Christian," Brownback said on Washington Watch Wednesday, referring to Nigeria. "The government there has been feckless, and the administration here has been feckless in holding them accountable ….
"[We know they've] got terrorist groups operating all over that nation, and the government there is doing nothing about it," he emphasized.
Brownback told show host Tony Perkins that Nigeria's absence from the State Department's list will spark growing unrest on the African continent. It's the second-straight year for the Biden administration to omit Nigeria from the list.
"It's a terrible mistake, and it's going to just breed more problems in West Africa by them failing to do this," he adds.
Trump had a handle on this
Nigeria made the list under former President Donald Trump, and Brownback recalled that Trump addressed the matter with Nigerian government leaders when they visited the U.S.
"Deaths went down of Christians in Nigeria after President Trump pushed the president of Nigeria at that time said, 'Hey, why are all the Christians getting killed?' – and he says, of course, 'They're not.'
"But he then went back and assigned his military to go out and address these issues, and the death numbers went down. Now it's all over the place," Brownback lamented.
More than 30,000 Christians were murdered during the eight years in office of former Nigerian leader Muhammadu Buhari. In addition, more than 18,000 Christian churches and 2,200 Christian schools were burned during that same time, the report found.
"You're going to end up with a big problem with war and maybe people trying to divide Nigeria again if you don't get on top of this," Brownback warned.