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President Signs Bill Championed by Knights of Columbus to Help Save Middle East Religious Minorities


K of C Represented by Supreme Knight Carl Anderson at Oval Office signing

The Knights of Columbus took part in a ceremony at the White House today in which The Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018 was signed into law by President Donald Trump. 

The Catholic fraternal order, which has played a significant role in assisting persecuted Christians and other religious minorities in the region, was represented at the ceremony by Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. 

Anderson later remarked, “The legislation signed today again reminds us of America’s earlier efforts to aid victims of genocide – Christian communities targeted by Ottomans a century ago and Jewish survivors of Shoah. 

Over the last four years, the Knights have allocated more than $20 million to aid Christians and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria to provide food, shelter and clothing. Those efforts also included $2 million to rebuild the liberated Iraqi town of Karamles that had been largely demolished by ISIS.

“With the legislation signed today, America speaks with bold moral clarity and political unanimity,” Anderson said.

In his 2015 testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which figured prominently in the legislation’s drafting, Anderson urged the House to adopt a resolution recognizing that the Christian communities of Iraq and Syria, as well as other vulnerable communities, were facing genocide.

Knights of Columbus staff also accompanied Rep Chris Smith (R-NJ) and his congressional delegation to Iraq in 2016 and travelled with him on a fact-finding trip in the weeks before the legislation was introduced.

Known as H.R. 390, the law enables financial and technical assistance for the humanitarian, stabilization, and recovery needs of former and current religious minority residents of Iraq and Syria. The assistance may come through the federal government or other entities, including faith-based groups. In addition, the act enables the U.S. Department of State – in collaboration with other federal agencies – to conduct criminal investigations and apprehend individuals identified as alleged ISIS members, and to identify warning signs of genocide and threats of persecution.

In October, the Knights signed a memorandum of understanding with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for how religious minorities are to be assisted in the rebuilding and stabilization of their communities.

The Knights also worked in conjunction with the U.S. government to de-escalate tensions between the Kurdistan and Iraqi governments that threatened a recently rebuilt Christian town.

More information on the Knights’ efforts on behalf of persecuted Christians and other religious minorities is available at

About the Knights of Columbus

The Knights of Columbus is the world’s largest Catholic service organization for adult men. The Knights serve communities on a local and global scale through many activities including coat drives for kids, Special Olympics, disaster preparedness and relief, and assisting people who are persecuted.

They’re everyday people helping people every day. Whether it’s aiding the less fortunate, local volunteering, networking with others of shared values and beliefs, or participating in fun, family-inclusive events, the Knights of Columbus welcome and value Catholic men seeking community and ways to put their faith into action.