• U.S. policies create backlash against Christians.
By Victor Thorn —
Does Christianity face extinction in the Middle East? Some religious scholars fret that within the next decade, Christianity will cease to exist in the very areas where it was formed 2,000 years ago. Leah Barkoukis, the web editor for Townhall.com, stated in a October 17, 2015 article, “The world has witnessed the persecution of Christians at an alarming rate.” Statistics speak for themselves. In 2003, prior to the Iraq War, 1.5 million Christians resided in that country. Today, the number is down to 275,000, a reduction of 82%.
Open Doors, an organization founded in 1955 to assist Christians in need, released its annual “Watch List Report” last month. Its CEO, David Curry, encapsulated the findings: “The 2016 World Watch List documents an unprecedented escalation of violence against Christians, making this past year the most violent and sustained attack on Christian faith in modern history.”
Curry added: “The level of exclusion, discrimination, and violence against Christians is unprecedented, spreading, and intensifying. Christians, longing to stay in their homes, are being forced to flee for their lives and for their children’s lives.”
North Korea, for the 14th year in a row, stands as the most egregious violator of Christian rights. However, Open Doors cited countries with at least 50% Muslim populations as the next nine highest proponents of anti-Christian bigotry. These nations include Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, and Libya, among others.
According to the Open Doors report, “Islamic extremism is by far the most significant persecution engine of Christians in the world today.”
Sadly, despite Barack Hussein Obama’s frequent trips abroad in which he leads a crusade to eradicate so-called global warming, he rarely if ever exposes the violent genocide being waged against Christians.
On January 26, this reporter had the privilege of speaking with Edwin Woodruff Tait, contributing editor of Christian History magazine. Tait echoed what numerous religious leaders have claimed: “Geopolitically, it looks like Christianity is on its way out of the Middle East. As Christians, we should care about our brothers and sisters in Christ being slaughtered.”
Offering invaluable insights, Tait zeroed in on one of the problems: “A decade ago, Syria and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein were relatively tolerant of Christians. But now in Iraq, Christians are being horribly tortured by the Islamic State. Christian men are given three options. They can either convert to Islam, pay extremely high taxes, or be killed, while their women are enslaved.”
Demographics also play a role, according to Tait.
“There’s a larger pattern at hand,” he said. “As populations grow and move, they come into more contact with one another. In this type of world, we can expect to see religious conflict becoming fiercer, especially under regimes that are less tolerant of Christianity.”
On a positive note, Tait explained: “Lately, we’ve been hearing quite a bit from Christians in the Middle East. They don’t want mass violence or armies coming in with guns blazing. Instead, they find hope in the fact that younger Muslims are fed up with fundamentalist intolerance. As such, they’re rising up and demanding change.”
Victor Thorn is a hard-hitting researcher, journalist and author of over 50 books.