Is Christianity dying in the Middle East?

Christians have a rich heritage in the Middle East, but they are being increasingly oppressed and the faith is slowly disappearing from the region, according to a recent report.

CHARLOTTEDecember 26, 2012 – Recently a friend was commenting about the plight of Christianity in the Middle East and its steady decline in the region. On December 23rd, Edward Malnick wrote an article in the Telegraph about a new report that warns of increasing persecution of Christian worshippers in predominantly Islamic areas.

According to the study by the think tank Civitas (civitas.org.uk/press/prChristianophobia.htm), “Christians suffer greater hostility across the world than any other religious group.”

A key factor in the growing discrimination against Christianity throughout Africa, Asia and the Middle East is the combination of political correctness and a failure of politicians and media to criticize oppression out of fear of reprisal for being racists.

Saudi Arabia, which is the birthplace of Islam, does not allow churches, rejects non-Muslim visitors to Mecca, will not sell non-Islamic publications in book stores and has numerous other restrictions against all faiths other than Islam.

Perhaps most harsh is that converts from Islam are subject to execution in Saudi Arabia as well as Mauritania and Iran. In other countries throughout the Middle East, there is a high risk of severe legal penalties against those who convert.

According the study, entitled Christianophobia by Rupert Shortt, repressive regimes fear Christianity as a “’Western creed’ which can be used to undermine them.”

The situation has become so rampant that “there is now a risk that Christianity will disappear from its ‘biblical heartland’,” says the report.

Shortt points out that 20 per cent of the population of the Holy Land in 1945 was Christian. Today it is two per cent. Despite the fact that Middle Eastern communities are among the most historic regions of Christianity, their enemies reject their right to be there according to Shortt.

Most of the Christian oppression is emerging in countries where Islam dominates. During the 20th century the study estimates that half to two-thirds of Christians have either fled the region or been killed.

With a rapidly increasing Muslim population in several European countries, combined with dwindling attendance at religious services across the Continent, Islamic influence is gradually creeping into the fabric of European culture. The problem is also growing in the United States, but at a slower pace.

As author Mark Steyn writes in America Alone, “One reason why the developed world has a difficult job grappling with the Islamist threat is that it doesn’t take religion seriously.  It condescends to it. In Europe’s wholly secularized environment, the enduring religiosity of America is not just odd, but primitive.”

History shows that when Islam gains a dominant position in a location, Sharia law is not far behind, and this is becoming a major concern in some places in Europe.

Shortt’s report claims there has been a steady rise in violence against Christians in the first decade of the 21st century. Part of that increase seems to be the result of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. That left Iraqi Christians “more vulnerable that ever,” with 17 priests and two bishops kidnapped between 2006 and 2010. In 2006, Orthodox priest, Fr. Boulos Iskander, was kidnapped and beheaded.

Shortt notes that one reason for the reaction against Christians by Islamic fundamentalists is that they are “seen as stormtroopers of the degenerate culture of Europe and the U.S.

Continuing his report, Shortt states, “No matter that the Christians of these countries would probably be nearly as ill at ease in the secular West as their Muslim counterparts. Fundamentalists don’t let the facts get in the way of their prejudice.”

Some Muslims fear they will be defiled for having physical contact with a non-Muslim, especially an apostate, because they are impure. Little wonder that many of the attacks on Christians take place in regions where there is high unemployment, ethnic tension and tribal differences. The basic core of Islam has always been rooted in such an environment.

Mark Steyn believes much of the problem lies in declining Western populations and growing Muslim populations. As those numbers become increasingly skewed and religious ratios change, so too does the ability to maintain traditional cultural mores.

Steyn poses the question, “What if the problem is not that the Muslims in the West are unfamiliar with the customs of their new land but rather that they are all too familiar with them – and explicitly reject them?”

What if? Are we indeed yielding our values to Islamic fundamentalism because we are too blind to see what is happening?

Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in Charlotte, NC. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club, which creates, and escorts customized tours to SwitzerlandFrance and Italy for groups of 12 or more.

Inquiries for groups can be made at Peabod@aol.com Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others.

As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 71 countriesSuggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries. He also played professional baseball for four years and was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte.

 

 

 


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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com) and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.

 

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