President Barack Obama expressed his concern about persecuted Christians around the world, particularly an embattled church in the Middle East facing an onslaught from Islamic State terrorists.
"During this season of Advent, Christians in the United States and around the world are preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ," Obama said in the statement Wednesday. "At this time, those of us fortunate enough to live in countries that honor the birthright of all people to practice their faith freely give thanks for that blessing. Michelle and I are also ever-mindful that many of our fellow Christians do not enjoy that right, and hold especially close to our hearts and minds those who have been driven from their ancient homelands by unspeakable violence and persecution."
Obama is vacationing in Hawaii until the new year, but issued the written statement.
"In some areas of the Middle East where church bells have rung for centuries on Christmas Day, this year they will be silent; this silence bears tragic witness to the brutal atrocities committed against these communities by ISIL," the president continued.
"We join with people around the world in praying for God’s protection for persecuted Christians and those of other faiths, as well as for those brave men and women engaged in our military, diplomatic, and humanitarian efforts to alleviate their suffering and restore stability, security, and hope to their nations," Obama said.
He ended the statement, "As the old Christmas carol reminds us: The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good-will to men."