Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Christianity in Decline ...

Tom Bethell has written (here) a sad but I fear accurate assessment of the demise of Christianity in the Middle East, North Africa, and increasingly Europe. In it he says:
Lebanon is a microcosm, and an object lesson. It is a country where Christianity is on the wane. By one estimate, it was once over 70 percent Christian; today it is less than half that. Shi'ite Muslims alone probably outnumber Lebanese Christians (mostly Maronite). The decline may be greater than that. The Washington Post reported a few years ago that Lebanon has not conducted a census for about 50 years "out of concern that the evidence of Christian decline and Shi'ite Muslim advancement might fuel sectarian tension."

A similar pattern holds across the Middle East, where the Christian downfall has been dramatic. The Catholic Archbishop of Algeria, interviewed recently by the New York Times, described "the ebbing of Christianity from North Africa's shores as Islam spreads across Europe." In 1958, there were more than 700 churches in the country where St. Augustine was born and died. Now there are about 20, and they are mostly empty. "The rest have been converted into mosques or cultural centers or have been abandoned." The archbishop says Mass for a remnant of 20 people.
“Something similar is happening,” Bethell writes, “although more slowly, in Europe. … Plainly, the rise of Islam in Europe is directly related to the fall of Christianity.”
"Into the void are coming Islam and Muslims," Daniel Pipes wrote in the New York Sun two years ago. "As Christianity falters, Islam is robust, assertive and ambitious." He foresaw a time when Europe's "grand cathedrals will appear as vestiges of a prior civilization." Until they are transformed into mosques, that is.
Bethell sells Pope Benedict a little short in my opinion, but his article performs what may be the premier task of public intellectuals today: it speaks inconvenient truths.

The same is true of the Norwegian journalist Fjordman, whose recent article was quoted at length here. In it he writes:
The anti-Christian element seems to be a trait shared by multiculturalists in all Western countries. … The First Commandment of Multiculturalism is: Thou shalt hate Christianity and Judaism. Multiculturalists also hate nation states, and they even hate the Enlightenment, by insisting that non-Western cultures should be above scrutiny.

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