Thursday, July 23, 2015

This coming Sunday, the New York Times magazine has an article on disappearing Christians in the  Middle East.

It includes a lie and a libel.

The lie:
From 1910 to 2010, the number of Christians in the Middle East — in countries like Egypt, Israel, Palestine and Jordan — continued to decline.
The number of Christians in Israel in 1948 was about 34,000. The number today is about 161,000. The percentage has gone down but the actual numbers have gone way up.

The libel:
Eshoo, the Democratic congresswoman, is working to establish priority refugee status for minorities who want to leave Iraq. ‘‘It’s a hair ball,’’ she says. ‘‘The average time for admittance to the United States is more than 16 months, and that’s too long. Many will die.’’ But it can be difficult to rally widespread support. The Middle East’s Christians often favor Palestine over Israel. And because support of Israel is central to the Christian Right — Israel must be occupied by the Jews before Jesus can return — this stance distances Eastern Christians from a powerful lobby that might otherwise champion their cause. 

The NYT is insulting all Christian Zionists, claiming that they don't want to save the lives of Middle Eastern Christians because the persecuted are not pro-Israel. This is condescending, libelous - and wrong.

In fact, evangelical Christians have been working hard to help their Christian brethren in Iraq and Syria - and they have been stymied by the lack of coverage of their plight in, you guessed it, the New York Times.

The good news is that we seem to have learned from our mistakes.

One example is the outpouring of concern over the persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt. People who, a decade or so ago, may not have been familiar with the word “Copt” and unaware of Christianity’s long history in Egypt were expressing their solidarity with this ancient community.

This identification with ancient Christian communities has really taken off in the debate over intervention in Syria. As my good friend Rod Dreher has pointed out, “Somehow, the word is getting out to American Christians that they — we — have a particular stake in Syria, in that our brothers and sisters in the faith are facing mass murder and exile.”

Dreher notes that Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has come out against U.S. intervention, specifically over concerns of the impact on Syrian Christians. Even more exciting is the fact that 62 percent of evangelical pastors polled by the National Association of Evangelicals oppose intervention. They fear that our involvement could make matters worse.

Evangelical voices have joined those of the Pope and Orthodox bishops in calling our attention to the plight of our Syrian brethren. It took a while, but we’ve finally realized that they are us.

That’s especially important because the mainstream media is doing a terrible job of telling Americans about the possible impact of U.S. intervention on Syrian Christians. As Rod pointed out, the day after Pope Francis addressed a crowd of 100,000 people during a day of fasting and prayer for Syria, the New York Times said nothing about the event. Nor have they mentioned the groundswell of American Christian opposition to intervention.

A similar pattern holds true in the rest of the media. We’re told a great deal about the push for congressional approval and the reasons for intervention. We’re even told that Americans oppose said intervention. But we rarely are told why many Americans oppose this intervention or even of the possible effects on Syrian Christians.

Thankfully, this time American Christians are listening and speaking out. Thankfully, we understand that these are our people — our brothers and sisters in Christ.

(h/t EBoZ)

UPDATE: I originally misstated the number of Christians in 1948 and today lower by a factor of about 4, it is corrected now.  (h/t David B)

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