Friday, December 25, 2009

"Embattled Christians" on this Christmas Day

Nina Shea had a piece the other day which is worth noting as Christmas day draws to a close. It is about the seemingly gradual -- but in historical terms breathtakingly rapid -- disappearance of Christians and Christianity from the Middle East.

Shea writes:
The lengthy exodus of ancient Christian congregations from the greater Middle East’s last redoubts of religious pluralism is accelerating. Terrorism, conflict, and the rise of intolerant Islamism are to blame, Vatican officials explain. There is a real fear that the light of Christian communities that was enkindled personally by the apostles of Jesus Christ could be extinguished in this vast region that includes the Holy Land. . . .

The disappearance of living Christian communities would signal the disappearance of religious pluralism and a moderating influence from the heart of the Muslim world. . . .

Within our lifetime, the Middle East could be wholly Islamicized for the first time in history. Without the experience of living alongside Christians and other non-Muslims at home, what would prepare it to peacefully coexist with the West? This religious polarization would undoubtedly have geopolitical significance. So far, official Washington has not taken this under consideration.
This last sentence stands as a reminder that the religious freedom of many of our brothers and sisters in other lands -- non-Christians and non-believers as well as Christians -- depends on support from the "west" in general and the U.S. in particular, and that the inculcation of multicultural pieties has dissuaded us as a society from the task of championing the cause of the religious freedom.

Nina Shea's article is here.

1 comment:

ignatius said...

The persecution is alarming, but despite the immense suffering, I am hopeful. You are probably aware of the outreach to Muslims by people like Father Zacharia Botros using TV, radio and the Internet. They can reach into the heart of Islamic countries with their messages, which combine invitations to accept Christ as one’s Savior, explaining the Christian faith, correcting common misconceptions, pointing out the weaknesses of Islamic teaching and law, and bringing to light the unsavory aspects of Mohammed’s life by citing early Arabic sources written by pious Muslims. Language barriers are no longer a great problem for outreach to Muslims, and at least some of the missionaries need not worry so much about being murdered because the electronic media enable them to remain in hiding.

I suspect the present heightened persecution of Christians is a sign of desperation among the Islamists, who are trying to bolster a religion which has been greatly weakened due to an unstoppable influx of critical opinions and ideas.

Dare we hope that 10s and even 100s of millions of Muslims will come to Christ and begin a new life in Him? Dare we hope that the Middle East will someday be a region where the overwhelming majority of inhabitants are Christians (even while Europe goes down the tubes)?

When Muslims come to Christ, they will, I think, be among His most ardent followers, and they will be a great blessing to the rest of us.

This is, at any rate, what I pray for.