President Barack Obama has aggressively defended Christians and other religious minorities again the Islamic State and that won’t change regardless of whether the State Department decides to call the targeting genocide, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told TheBlaze Tuesday.

Supporters of the Islamic State carry the terror group's flag. (AP Photo)

Supporters of the Islamic State wave carry the group’s flag. (AP Photo)

“This is something the State Department is continuing to look at but certainly has not in anyway delayed the administration taking aggressive action to protect religious minorities that are being targeted by ISIL, including Christians that we know are being targeted by ISIL in that region of the world,” Earnest told TheBlaze.

The State Department will be deciding on March 17 if the Islamic State’s targeting of religious minorities meets the legal qualifications of genocide. The European Parliament has already recognized the killings of religious minorities as genocide. TheBlaze asked if not following suit would make the United States an outlier and prompt international outrage.

Earnest said he did not want to say anything that presupposes an outcome.

“The determination is important and the process for reaching that determination is ongoing but it certainly is not going to have any impact on the ability of the U.S. military or the willingness of the commander in chief of the United States armed forces to order military action against ISIL to try to protect religious minorities in that part of the world,” Earnest continued.

The legal questions arise from the Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which was reached by 147 countries in 1948 and ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1986.

Under the convention, there are five legal criteria to meet the standard for genocide:

● Killing members of the group;
● Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
● Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
● Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and
● Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

“These kind of issues are quite serious, both from a moral perspective but also from a policy perspective,” Earnest said. “That’s why the State Department has been so diligent in doing the necessary work to reach this determination. When it comes to the kinds of steps that are necessary to try to protect religious minorities and to degrade and ultimately destroy a terrorist organization that targets religious minorities, the president’s willingness to use military force against those terrorists has been unsparing.”