Where Have All the Christians Gone?

Israel has long been like the canary in the mineshaft. If the canary succumbs to odorless, lethal gases, the miners know it’s time to get out of the mine. Anti-Semitic militancy warns the rest of the world about what lies ahead. Now, however, there appear to be two types of “canaries” in the mineshaft. Merciless, life-threatening assaults on Christians in the Middle East may be a harbinger of what lies ahead for Christians elsewhere.

Liberal elitists in Western politics, academia, and the news media collectively swooned when the mobs in Cairo’s Tahrir Square swept friend of the West, Hosni Mubarak, out of the Egyptian presidency and into a prison cell to await trial. In the minds of so-called progressives, the ensuing “Arab Spring” revolution was precisely the balm of freedom the downtrodden had long yearned for. Democratic reforms supposedly were around the corner, and everyone would swing into an era of prosperous camaraderie. That’s how delusional Western leaders saw things. They were wrong again.

On October 9, 2011, Muslims attacked some 10,000 peaceful Coptic Christians who were protesting the burning of two of their churches. Some Christians were shot, while others were run down by the Egyptian army’s military vehicles or were beaten and dragged through the streets of Cairo. Compass Direct News reported 26 Christians dead and hundreds wounded.

Compass said the incident “could be the worst act of violence against Egyptian Christians in modern history.” It reported that Samia Sidhom, managing editor for the Coptic weekly Al Watani, “said Copts across Egypt are distraught about the attack and the future for Christians across the country.”

Islamist jihadists, who have harassed and murdered Coptic Christians for years, are gaining strength in their support for an Islamic regime dominated by the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood. Their oft-stated objective is to rid themselves of Israel first, then to drape the entire region in Arab green. The Copts, who today number around 8 million, have lived peaceful, productive lives among their Muslim neighbors for two millennia. Now, with radicals at the helm of the burgeoning Islamist/ Sharia “utopia,” many are talking about fleeing Egypt.

In Pursuit of Survival
A decade ago, 800,000 Christians lived in Iraq. Need we be reminded that American and coalition forces in 2003 delivered the country from the protracted agony of the butcher of Baghdad, Saddam Hussein? Their intent was to facilitate a stable, democratic government. However, when it comes to the country’s Christians, the new Iraqi constitution comes up short. Reported Compass Direct News:

Iraq’s Federal Constitution says each individual has freedom of thought, conscience and belief, but there is no article on changing one’s religion. This makes it legally impossible to apply freedom of belief in the cases of converts, said a Christian Iraqi lawyer on the condition of anonymity.

Radical Muslims ratcheted up their attacks in October 2010, massacring 58 people worshiping in a Catholic church in Baghdad. The persecution of Christians in Iraq has led to a mass exodus. More than 1 million Christians lived there in 1991; today fewer than 345,000 remain.1

Even children are targeted. Compass Direct News recently reported that a 9- year-old Iraqi boy was beaten and insulted because of his Christian faith. When he started first grade last year, his teacher beat him in front of the entire class, calling him an infidel.

His sister, in kindergarten, said her teacher told her she and her family would “burn” for being Christians. The parents, reported Compass, “are weary and wonder if the children’s lives would be easier in a Western country where so many Christian converts have already fled.”

CNSNews.com said a U.S. State Department document reports that no Christian churches or schools are left in Afghanistan. The last church was destroyed in March 2010. “Negative societal opinion and suspicion of Christian activities led to targeting of Christian groups and individuals, including Muslim converts to Christianity,” said the report. “The lack of government responsiveness and protection for these groups and individuals contributed to the deterioration of religious freedom.” Consequently, most fear to communicate their faith or worship openly.

In 2001 Mideast expert Daniel Pipes wrote in the Middle East Quarterly, “At the present rate, the Middle East’s 12 million Christians will likely drop to 6 million in the year 2020. With time, Christians will effectively disappear from the region as a cultural and political force.” A decade later, evidence confirms the truth of his words.

Dismal Prospects
Still to be assessed is the possible imposition of fundamentalist, Islamist regimes in countries taken over by insurgents hostile to Christians and Jews. It is a fiction to insist that these “Islamocracies” can be cajoled into becoming democracies. A Sharia-dominated constitutional system is diametrically opposed to and irreconcilable with a democratic government. So Christians and Jews in Islamic countries face two dismal fates: dhimmitude or death.

Being a “tolerated” dhimmi means living an existence of medieval-like subservience. Many Christians, however, die instead. As demonstrated in a host of Islamist-dominated societies today, Muslims see genocide as a viable way of eliminating Christians, who are viewed as an unacceptable, corrupting presence.

In June 2010, World Net Daily reported that researcher Bert Hickman, with the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, confirmed that “105,000 people are killed every year because of their Christian faith.” This means that one Christian is killed every five minutes. Furthermore, over the past 10 years, an average 100,000 Christians have been slain for their faith annually. “Those figures are accurate,” Hickman said. The vast majority is murdered by radical Islamists.

The Inevitable Question
Since the facts of the wholesale murder of Christians are indisputable, why the silence? Why do our leaders not chastise the countries where these atrocities are perpetrated? Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan are prime offenders. The United States endorsed the revolution in Egypt, even before clearly understanding who was behind it or receiving any inkling of the result. Now, with army vehicles running down Christians in the streets and rabid mobs killing at will, where are the opposition voices among those who are expected to keep Egypt financially afloat?

Iraq has benefited from Western money and military support, as well as from soldiers who shed their blood to breathe life back into the nation. Where, then, is the outrage when the Iraqis legislate offensive restraints on Christians and allow them to be mutilated and driven out of a country they inhabited centuries before Islam existed?

Add to this the insult of countenancing the churches in Afghanistan being destroyed until not one is left standing and Christians are forced to meet in secret. Yet all the while, young Christians are there from the other side of the world, taking the bullets to set these people free. It is incomprehensible.

Here in America, Muslims are protected, much more so than evangelical Christians. Protecting Muslim citizens is an honorable pursuit that raises America’s standards far above those in so many other parts of the world. Yet why are the same leaders who so passionately protect Muslim rights in America doing nothing for Christians who are dying in record numbers? Why do so many of our leaders hold their tongues as the world turns a blind eye?

And there is another question—one we must all ask ourselves: Why is the church virtually silent about the suffering of our brethren? We will meet them one day. What will we answer when they ask us, “Why?”

ENDNOTES
  1. Alex Murashko, “Christians in Iraq feel ‘failed’ by government,” October 19, 2011, Christian Today <christiantoday.com/article/christians.in.iraq.feel.failed.by.government/28786.htm>.

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