Kirsten Powers: American churches silent as Christians in Middle East face persecution

Moderate Kirsten Powers writes about the persecution of Christians by Muslims in the left-leaning Daily Beast. (H/T Mysterious Chris S.)

Excerpt: (links removed)

Christians in the Middle East and Africa are being slaughtered, tortured, raped, kidnapped, beheaded, and forced to flee the birthplace of Christianity. One would think this horror might be consuming the pulpits and pews of American churches. Not so. The silence has been nearly deafening.

As Egypt’s Copts have battled the worst attacks on the Christian minority since the 14th century, the bad news for Christians in the region keeps coming. On Sunday, Taliban suicide bombers killed at least 85 worshippers at All Saints’ church, which has stood since 1883 in the city of Peshawar, Pakistan. Christians were also the target of Islamic fanatics in the attack on a shopping center in Nairobi, Kenya, this week that killed more than 70 people. The Associated Press reported that the Somali Islamic militant group al-Shabab “confirmed witness accounts that gunmen separated Muslims from other people and let the Muslims go free.” The captives were asked questions about Islam. If they couldn’t answer, they were shot.

In Syria, Christians are under attack by Islamist rebels and fear extinction if Bashar al-Assad falls. This month, rebels overran the historic Christian town of Maalula, where many of its inhabitants speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus. The AFP reported that a resident of Maalula called her fiancé’s cell and was told by member of the Free Syrian Army that they gave him a chance to convert to Islam and he refused. So they slit his throat.

Nina Shea, an international human-rights lawyer and expert on religious persecution,testified in 2011 before Congress regarding the fate of Iraqi Christians, two-thirds of whom have vanished from the country. They have either been murdered or fled in fear for their lives. Said Shea: “[I]n August 2004 … five churches were bombed in Baghdad and Mosul. On a single day in July 2009, seven churches were bombed in Baghdad … The archbishop of Mosul, was kidnapped and killed in early 2008. A bus convoy of Christian students were violently assaulted. Christians … have been raped, tortured, kidnapped, beheaded, and evicted from their homes …”

Well, we are pulling out of Iraq, so there is nothing we can do to protect anyone once we are gone.

Has anyone done anything about this?

Yet so many Western Christians are silent. In January, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) penned a letter to 300 Catholic and Protestant leaders complaining about their lack of engagement. “Can you, as a leader in the church, help?” he wrote. “Are you pained by these accounts of persecution? Will you use your sphere of influence to raise the profile of this issue—be it through a sermon, writing or media interview?”
There have been far too few takers.

Wolf and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) sponsored legislation last year to create a special envoy at the State Department to advocate for religious minorities in the Middle East and South-Central Asia. It passed in the House overwhelmingly, but died in the Senate. Imagine the difference an outcry from constituents might have made. The legislation was reintroduced in January and again passed the House easily. It now sits in the Senate. According to the office of Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), the sponsor of the bill there, there is no date set for it to be taken up.

Wolf has complained loudly of the State Department’s lack of attention to religious persecution, but is anybody listening? When American leaders meet with the Saudi government, where is the public outcry demanding they confront the Saudis for fomenting hatred of Christians, Jews, and even Muslim minorities through their propagandistic tracts and textbooks? In the debate on Syria, why has the fate of Christians and other religious minorities been almost completely ignored?

The House passed the bill, the Senate is blocking it. The House is controlled by Republicans, the Senate is controlled by Democrats. You might think that the United States would be concerned about Christians – there are so many of us who claim to be Christians. But not everyone who claims to be a Christian has thought about how foreign policy affects the lives of Christians in other countries. Sometimes, they are more concerned about empowering the government to steal from their neighbor and give it to them. It really is that simple.

6 thoughts on “Kirsten Powers: American churches silent as Christians in Middle East face persecution”

  1. I really do think that part of the problem with the apathy of Christians in America is not just lack of knowledge about the problem. It is also that they’ve been conditioned for so many years that Christianity is about Being Nice. This means Christians cannot EVER say anything negative about other groups – not even when those other groups are literally slaughtering their brethren around the world.

    Worse, the minute one of their own does does speak out forcefully about an issue, WE are the ones criticized! I cannot tell you how many times this has happened to me. (Not on this particular issue, but on Islam in general, Obama’s disastrous policies and behavior, the relentless bullying of homosexuals in our culture today, etc.)

    It does not seem to matter how many facts I bring to the discussion, how well I make my arguments, how calm/polite I am in the discussion or anything else. The mere fact that I say ANYTHING gets me chastised by fellow Christians, over and over again.

    It all leaves me stunned.

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    1. I think that you have hit the nail on the head there. If happiness is your God then you want to feel that you are nice and to be perceived to be nice, so that others like you. That’s the message of church in my opinion. If churches were serious about teaching Christian worldview and apologetics, then it would be much more challenging and divisive. But pastors cater to the felt needs of the flock and everyone has gone astray.

      This blog was created because I tried for about 10 years to get Christian worldview and apologetics into the campus Christian groups (IVCF and Crusade) as well as into local churches. Christian leaders wanted nothing to do with it, so I’ve struck out on my own. Church is no longer interested in things like what I write about.

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  2. Mo, I agree with you about ignorance in the churches leading to apathy. It seems to be the case that the goal of modern Christianity in America is to get comfort. And simple messages, without really confronting controversial or painful things (like persecution in other countries, it is discouraging to think about) is the way to stay comfortable. For the church to be unconcerned about giving justice to the poor (babies who are aborted in the womb, persecuted Christians,ect.) and about being holy as our Heavenly Father is holy (for example, the divorce rate is as high in among “Christians” as it is among pagans, there is so much sexual immorality, homosexuality being engaged in or tolerated, just to name a few examples but there are many more huge problems, it is a disgusting rebellion and an abuse of the love and grace God has given us through Jesus Christ. It’s not baffling to me that so many people reject truth and engaging in things that lead to repentance (like thinking more in depth about what it actually means to support divorce, for example) because we live in a world that is evil. Yet this is all just temporary, and God will call all to account on the day of judgment, and then make everything new. (Revelation 20:12, 21:1-27) Just keep doing what you know from Scripture is the right thing to do, even if no one ever responds to you, God will remember it.

    Wintery Knight, thank you for bringing this issue to our minds by posting about it. You say you began this blog as an effort to address important issues. How has that gone for you? In comparison to church or college Christian groups, has it worked better as a way for you to communicate with people? It seems that a drawback with blogging is that there can be some exchange of ideas, but it is not like meeting with someone in person where you know you will get a response from them and a bit more commitment. Yet even in person it is hard to get a lot of people to be committed to stick with a teaching and work out the different issues in a way that the topic deserves.

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