On Sunday evening I read David Aikman’s commentary in the December issue of Christianity Today, Suffocating the Faithful: Will the last Mideast church leader be sure to turn off the lights? In this short article Aikman points out the alarming rate that Christianity is shrinking in the Middle East.
No one knows precisely how many of the Middle East’s 293 million people are Christians, but nearly everyone acknowledges that Middle Eastern Christianity has been in steady decline for decades. In some local areas, officials record declines of 75 percent or more. Recent violence in the region is accelerating that decline. Some observers estimate that the region’s population of 10 to 15 million Christians will continue to spiral downward during the next 50 years.
Aikman also acknowledges what other Mid East experts have been saying for the past few years about the war in Iraq,
Christians by the tens of thousands are among the 2 million Iraqi refugees in Jordan and Syria. It is one of the great unintended consequences of the war in Iraq that the U.S., a Christian-majority nation, led its military forces to liberate a Muslim nation, leading to a dramatic drop in religious freedom for this nation’s Christian minority.
It’s a complex situation, but there are a few hopeful suggestions included in the last few paragraphs. Take 5 minutes to read the entire article.
On a related note, I’ve added a new site to the Regular Reading section of this blog’s sidebar. Pilgrim without a shrine is written by a thoughtful- and anonymous- friend who has quite a bit of experience and expertise in the Middle East. It looks like we can expect a new post each Friday that will attempt to interpret and clarify the glut of headlines for that complex region of the world. From what I can tell from the first post, Thoughts on Bethlehem before Epiphany, there will be a bunch of insightful and provocative stuff coming. You might consider adding this blog to your bookmarks or blog reader.