Monday, November 22, 2010

Christians in the Middle East : Where the numbers are growing?

Since the deadly terrorist attacks against churches in Baghdad, there are a lot of discussions and reports about the plight of the Christian population in the Middle East. While this is definitely the case for almost all of the countries in the Middle East, there is one country where the number of Christians kept growing for the last 62 years. Your guess is correct - this is Israel.

The Christian population In Israel after the establishment of our state was 34.000 people. At the time, most of the Christian population in Israel was concentrated in Jerusalem, Haifa and in the area of Galilee. Among the Christians, the major ethnic group was Arabs, with small Armenian minority in the Old City of Jerusalem, and other small ethnic groups.

In 2010, the Christian population of Israel is 5 times bigger than it was in the 1948 - and reached almost 200.000 people. Arab Christians are still the biggest ethnic group in the Christian population, but since the beginning of the 90s, the Russian-speaking Christian population was also growing significantly. The explanation for this is the wave of the immigration from the former Soviet Union, among which there was a high number of mixed marriages. As the result, many more worshipers are coming to the prayer services and churches reopening their doors.

If there is a place for Christians in the Middle East where they can live like everybody else, enjoy the true freedom of religion and worship in the churches without being threatened, this is Israel. Israel is the true model of coexistence of people coming from different cultures, faiths and religions. By the way, it's not only Christians who enjoy the religious freedom. Different religious groups who are persecuted in other countries of the Middle East, like followers of Baha’i religion in Iran, found a safe refuge in Israel, where they can pray their God and live without threat to their religion and way of life.

Unfortunately, out of fear, or confusion, or I don’t know what, some people are looking at the wrong direction in their search for responsible for the plight of Christians in the Middle East. It’s time to say clear and loud what is the source of this problem and find a solution, before it will become too late.

(translated from original post in french in "Ma Parole!" )

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