Christian leaders are pushing the Obama administration to declare that ISIS is committing genocide against Christians, Politico reports.
The term "genocide" has specific legal and political implications.
Under international treaties, the United States may have a legal obligation to act if the State Department declares that Christians are victims of genocide.
That declaration would pressure the White House to provide protection to Iraqi and Syrian Christians.
Many in Congress would likely support the idea.
This week, lawmakers gathered on Capitol Hill to talk about Christian persecution in the Middle East.
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., who chairs the House Subcommittee on Global Human Rights, says the Obama administration should label the enslavement, torture and execution of Christians by Islamic State as genocide.
"The world is experiencing a crisis of religious freedom that poses a direct challenge to U.S. interests in the Middle East, Central and East Asia, Russia, China and sub-Saharan Africa," Smith wrote in an op-ed posted on The Hill.
"Diplomacy by itself will not stop terrorism, but coordinated with military and economic development efforts, it can help undermine the conditions that nurture groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram as well as extremist Hinduism or radical Buddhism," he wrote.
Groups assisting refuges say Christians who flee ISIS often face persecution and religious violence in U.N. refugee camps.
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