Razib Khan One-stop-shopping for all of my content

May 12, 2017

The dusk of Oriental Christendom

Filed under: Oriental Christianity,Religion — Razib Khan @ 11:45 am

In the last quarter of the 20th century environmental concerns were such that the dangers of the loss of habitat would be couched in terms of “tigers will go extinct in our lifetimes if we don’t preserve the the lands in which they live.”

In some ways it seems that the lot of Oriental Christians, those ethno-religious groups which inhabit the territory from Egypt through the Fertile Crescent, are similar. The first quarter of the 21st century is seeing the extirpation of whole communities.

Just another of the many stories of this genre you see, Christians, in an Epochal Shift, Are Leaving the Middle East:

The exodus leaves the Middle East overwhelmingly dominated by Islam, whose rival sects often clash, raising the prospect that radicalism in the region will deepen. Conflicts between Sunni and Shiite Muslims have erupted across the Middle East, squeezing out Christians in places such as Iraq and Syria and forcing them to carve out new lives abroad, in Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere.

“The disappearance of such minorities sets the stage for more radical groups to dominate in society,” said Mr. Johnson of the loss of Christians and Jews in the Middle East. “Religious minorities, at the very least, have a moderating effect.”

Though many are concerned about rise of anti-Muslim sentiment in the West to the point of aiding and abetting apologia for the religion, the media is rather sanguine and straightforward about the role of Islam in creating a hostile and dangerous environment for Christians in the Middle East. The truth of what’s going on is just too obvious to obfuscate. Here are some interesting facts:

* A small suburb of Stockholm has become a sort of Mecca for Oriental Christians.

* The collapse of the Iraqi Christian community followed the American invasion under an evangelical Protestant president and democratization.

* The correlation between toleration of Christians and pro-American alignment on the part of the government is weak to non-existent. Saudi Arabia has no churches because public Christianity is banned, and they are an American ally. In anti-American Iran Christians live difficult lives, but arguably with more safety than in Iraq and Egypt, and with more freedom than Saudi Arabia.

* The period of mass movements since the Arab Spring has not been positive for Christians and ethnic minorities in general.

* The indigenous Christian communities in the Fertile Crescent (those from Jordan, Syria, and Iraq) will almost certainly congregate in Lebanon, where their numbers and power is great enough that they are not at the mercy of the majority in terms of their status.

* There are too many Copts (millions) to imagine that Egypt will lose its Christians within this generation, but the outflow is enough that major Diaspora communities will arise.

One dynamic to note is that once these communities relocate to abroad they will change in fundamental ways. The author of Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys Into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East wanted to record the lives of minorities in their traditional environments because he understood once they were transplanted they would transform, and eventually assimilate into the majority if the record of Arab Christians in the West is any precedent.

Powered by WordPress