Written by Don Byrd
Writing for The Atlantic, the indispensable Emma Green reports on a tragic development that speaks to an even more ominous reality: the radical and violent decline of religious co-existence in the Middle East. Christians especially, she explains, are increasingly faced with the dilemma of leaving home for an uncertain future or staying and risk the constant threat of persecution or death.
Here is an excerpt:
The precarious state of Christianity in Iraq is tragic on its own terms. The world may soon witness the permanent displacement of an ancient religion, and an ancient people. Those indigenous to this area share more than faith: They call themselves Suraye and claim a connection to the ancient peoples who inhabited this land long before the birth of Christ.
But the fate of Christianity in places like the Nineveh Plain has a geopolitical significance as well. Religious minorities test a country’s tolerance for pluralism; a healthy liberal democracy protects vulnerable groups and allows them to participate freely in society. Whether Christians can survive, and thrive, in Muslim-majority countries is a crucial indicator of whether democracy, too, is viable in those places. In Iraq, the outlook is grim, as it is in other nations in the region that are home to historic Christian populations, including Egypt, Syria, and Turkey. Christians who live in these places are subject to discrimination, government-sanctioned intimidation, and routine violence.
It is a sobering but important look at the personal and cultural toll years of political upheaval are taking on the region. Read the whole thing.