Christians are fleeing the Middle East in droves.
They are packing up and leaving because it is unsafe for them in an increasingly hostile Muslim region.
They are leaving even countries formerly hospitable to them — including a country currently occupied by the United States and its allies.
Christians represent only about 3 percent of Iraq’s population. And because they are a tiny minority, without their own militia, their interests have scarcely been considered in rebuilding Iraq’s political and social structure. In the meantime, they are the easiest targets for radical Sunni and Shiite Muslims who don’t believe there is any room for Christians and Jews in the Middle East.
Some 2 million Iraqis have fled the country because of terrorism in the last three years. That’s nearly 8 percent of the overall population. And of those refugees, Christians are represented disproportionately.
Ironically, many are fleeing to Lebanon, formerly know as the one Christian state in the Middle East. But Lebanon has its own problems with a Christian exodus. In a recent survey, half of Lebanese Maronites, the largest group of Christians in the country, said they would like to leave for a better life elsewhere.
Even Christians in Lebanon are under siege, fearful of being caught in the middle of a Sunni-Shiite civil war.
About 100,000 Lebanese Christians have submitted visa applications to foreign embassies. Another 60,000 already left following last summer’s Hezbollah war.
Christians, who once shared power constitutionally with Muslims and who represented about 50 percent of the population in the country, now make up just 22 percent.
The other stronghold of Christians in the region was in the Arab communities of Judea and Samaria, often referred to as the West Bank. But they have been virtually liquidated through Islamization, terror and an official policy of religious cleansing practiced by the Palestinian Authority.
Bethlehem, once a 90 percent Christian town, now claims only 12 percent of its population of 60,000 Arab residents as Christians. The number drops day by day, month by month and year by year. Last year, for comparison purposes, the town was 35 percent Christian.
The massive exodus from formerly Christian towns like Bethlehem and Nazareth began seven years ago, coinciding with the escalation of terror that came with the 2000 (SET ITAL) intifada (END ITAL) that continues today. It’s not just a war on Israel. It’s a war to impose Islam as the law of the land.
Muslim terrorists have intentionally placed Christians in the crossfire between them and Israel. They did that when they seized the Church of the Nativity, nearly destroying it, defecating in the hallways, smashing statues and stealing precious objects. When the Israelis withdrew from these communities and handed over the reins of power to the Palestinian Authority, they opened the door for what has become a jihad against the Christian community in which women are raped, businessmen are extorted, so-called "collaborators" are lynched and homes are seized.
What’s the solution?
Is the Middle East destined to become a Christian-free zone?
How can this stabilizing minority be persuaded to stay?
It seems like every political, ethnic and religious group in the world today wants — and eventually gets — its own country.
Since we’re redrawing the map of the Middle East, I propose we start planning for the creation of a Christian state. That would truly serve the interests of peace and freedom in the region.
Muslims have their claims to the Middle East, all gained, by the way, through military conquest.
Jews have their claims on the Middle East, their only real homeland, rich in historical and spiritual heritage.
Christians, too, have their claims on the Middle East. It was there that Jesus was born, ministered and died on the cross. It was where His gospel was first preached. It was there His followers found their first converts. It was from there that they turned the world upside down in a way that ultimately led to the birth of Western civilization.
Should we just forget about the Christians of the Middle East? Should we simply allow them to be tormented and persecuted? Should we stand by while they are driven from their homes?
Or should we do what we have done for so many other people in recent years — recognize their right to self-determination, freedom and safety and help them to build their own homeland in the Middle East?