LEADER TIMES WEEKEND RELIGION ARTICLE FOR
June 9, 2012 by William H. Scarle, Jr.
Bethlehem has always been close to my heart since I first visited there in 1969. The Church of the Nativity is the oldest standing Christian Church in the world, built by the emperor Justinian (527 – 565) over the original church built by Constantine in about 330. It was defiled by Palestinian terrorists in 2002 that fled into the church to escape Israeli soldiers during operation Defensive Shield. The claim of sanctuary on the part of the Palestinians was moot since they carried their weapons into the church along with a large quantity of explosive devices and fired at Israelis from the church. The siege lasted from April 2 to May 10 during which time they treated this holy place with distain.
The latest travesty of justice in Bethlehem comes as a result of the city being turned over to the Palestinian Authority several years ago. Just recently the First Baptist Church of Bethlehem was informed by the PA that the church lacked the authority to function as a religious institution under the PA. This means that any paper work of the congregation has no legal standing. This would include birth certificates, wedding certificates and death certificates. This would disqualify the legitimacy of marriages and births.
This is not the first time the church has been attacked. They suffered numerous bomb attacks during the First Intifada.
The idea being promulgated by the liberal press that the Israelis are responsible for the evacuation of Christians from the Middle
East should be an obvious absurdity. Sadly it is not. Israel proper is the only Middle East nation in which the Christian population is increasing. Christians, along with other minorities, are safe in Israel. This is not so in any other Middle Eastern country.
In Egypt the overthrow of the Mubarak government has thrown the ten percent of the population which follow the Coptic Christian faith into turmoil. Attacks against Christians, their schools and churches have significantly increased. A recent riot in which 27 Christians were killed and 329 injured was taken to court and dismissed for lack of evidence.
Countries in which churches have recently been destroyed by Moslems include Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tunisia. The highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia, Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah Al al-Sheikh, the Grand Mufti of the kingdom, recently declared it is “necessary to destroy all the churches in the Arabian Peninsula.”
Moslem nations where Christians have recently been declared apostate and sentenced to death or imprisonment include Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan and the Philippines.
Detailed reports of the situations mentioned above are available to any interested party from the web site of the Middle East Forum. In a short article documentation is next to impossible. However, the point being made here is that little or none of this is reported in the main line media. Israel bashing is popular, but mostly untrue. In March the United Nations Commission on International Religious Freedom listed the 16 countries with the worst record of religious persecution. Thirteen of them are Moslem. Israel is not among them. Christians are not the only persecuted faith in these countries, but Christianity is the only faith persecuted in every one of them. Sadly Christians are being driven out of lands in which some of the earliest Christian communities were born.
(Bill Scarle can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org).