An Iraqi Christian militia fighter who has killed a number of ISIS fighters recently justified his actions by explaining that while Jesus told his followers to turn the other cheek, he also encouraged them to buy a sword when needed.
During a recent interview with BBC News, Rayan al-Kildani, the head of the Christian militia known as the "Babylon Brigade," revealed that the 100,000-member group was formed to block the advance of the ISIS when it first swept through north and west Iraq in 2014.
"What Islamic State was doing to the Christians is terrible," Kildani explained. "They are the devil."
He added that the Christians are not fighting alone, as Shi and Sunni Muslim militias opposed to the terrorist group are also fighting side by side with them.
"I know the Bible says that if you get hit on one cheek you should offer the other. But we have really good defense forces now. No one is going to do anything bad to the Christians. Some Christians had their homes taken over. I have personally been to those houses to tell the new people living there to get out. Christian suffering is over."
When the BBC reporter asked how the militia reconciles its actions with the sixth commandment, "Thou shalt not kill," Kildani said.
"We have to fight. We have to defend ourselves...Jesus himself told us that if you don't have a sword you should go out and buy one."
As evidence he pointed to Luke 22:36, which reads: "If you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one."
While Kildani and his men take the verse literally, BBC noted that "theologians have been arguing about the verse for centuries," on whether the sword is supposed to be real or metaphorical.
Since 2014, Christians and members of other religious groups in Iraq and Syria have been killed, tortured, raped and driven out of their homes by the terrorist group. The group has also taken hundreds of Christian women and girls as sex slaves and forced children into battle, according to US researchers.
Recently, Syrian Orthodox Church leader Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II revealed that at least 230 citizens, including scores of Christians, were kidnapped when ISIS captured Qaryatain, once home to a thriving Christian population.
He revealed that some died while trying to escape while the others were killed for breaking the terms of their "dhimmi contracts", which require them to submit to the rule of Islam. The church official said that five more people are believed to be missing or dead, while the remainder of the group was reunited with their families after negotiations and ransom payments. The patriarch also said that the terrorist group had planned to sell the Christian girls to slavery.
Amid mounting global pressure to recognize atrocities committed in the Middle East as a deliberate attempt to eliminate religious minorities, US secretary of state John Kerry said that ISIS was "genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology and by actions, in what it says, in what believes and in what it does".
He said: "In my judgment, Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control including Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims."
Mark Arabo, president of the California-based Minority Humanitarian Foundation, told The Gospel Herald that while the designation does not change US policy, the government will now be morally compelled to stop the genocide committed against Christians in the Middle East.
Over the past months, Arabo has collected the names of an estimated 70,000 Christian refugees - the "Victims of ISIS" list - who have been displaced or persecuted by the Islamic State. Later this month, he will travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with David Saperstein, Department of State's ambassador for international religious freedom, and other officials to push for legislation to stop the genocide.
"It's not enough that they recognized the problem, they need to fix the problem" he said. "We hope and pray that the moral conscience of Congress is going to wake up, and God will open up their hearts and minds to the victims of genocide."