A view from within early Nazi era: 9-23-14
Does religion make us moral? 9-25-14

The end of Christianity in Iraq: 9-24-14

When the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 on what eventually proved to be false pretenses, some of the voices warning against going to war there used a phrase that now comes back to haunt us: If you break it you own it and have to fix it.

Iraq-mapOne of the things that got terribly broken was the life of the Christian community in the north of the country.

It now looks as if Christianity simply will not survive in Iraq. As the author of this piece in The Washington Post notes, Christians there have come to the end of a terrible time, and "the past three months have been the climax of 11 years of hell." (The rise of ISIS can only make things worse.)

It's a sad and disheartening story -- and one more piece of evidence that the decision by the Bush-Cheney administration to invade Iraq has had brutal consequences that have not been eased by the policies of the Obama administration, which at least has withdrawn American soldiers from fighting in the war zones.

This situation with Christians fleeing Iraq is also a time to remind ourselves -- especially those of us who live in the U.S., where most of the population identifies as Christian -- that Christianity finds its roots not in the West but in the Middle East.

Everyone knows that but it's easy for Amerians to forget. Christianity today is having a hard time in the Middle East. Indeed, one of the few Middle Eastern countries -- perhaps the only one -- in which Christians can and do live securely today is Israel, though even there Christians sometimes find themselves unwelcome or put upon.

The persecution of Christians elsewhere -- often at the hands of radical Islamists -- is a story that needs more attention from everyone, including leaders of Western nations, especially those nations that participated in breaking Iraq in the first place.

(For the opinion of a professor who thinks Christianity will survive in Iraq, click here. But I remind you that the Washington Post piece was based on on-the-ground reporting, while the professor's piece is not.)

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A new survey says most Americans think religion is losing ground, even though they want it to have a larger public role. It would be wise to be careful what you wish for. Religion, indeed, should have a voice in the public square, but when just one or two expressions of the faith set the public agenda there is a chilling effect.


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