Christianity and the Middle East


Last week, Vice President Mike Pence, at the annual Solidarity Dinner for Christians in the Middle East, provided an assurance that the present administration would increase efforts to aid persecuted Christians in the Middle East. This news should be welcomed most gratefully by Christians and humanitarians alike throughout the world. He said: “We will no longer rely on the United Nations alone to assist persecuted Christians and minorities in the wake of genocide and the atrocities of terrorist groups.”

That the United States should assume a more direct role in providing aid and relief to those who have been targeted because of their Christian faith has become more obvious to leaders in our nation and beyond as religiously motivated attacks have been carried out in recent years with increasing ferocity. One report issued in 2017 indicated that almost 90,000 Christians had been killed for practicing their faith in 2016 and that another 600 million were impeded in their practice of the Christian faith through various forms of intimidation or violence.

Interestingly enough, the degree of persecution in a given place always seems to correlate with the degree of zeal in the practice of the faith. Saint Ignatius of Antioch, writing in the second century, maintained that Christianity is at its best when it is hated by the world. As the odium for traditional Christian belief and practice continues to intensify among religious extremists and secularists alike, we can only pray that the intensification of persecution will lead to a rediscovery of the faith in all its richness.