Bush's former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales visited Israel and came away with some thoughts on the future of Christians in the Middle East.
Sitting in Nazareth, our delegation learned that in the past 10 years, 100,000 Christians have been killed each year because of their faith — many of them in the Middle East. Father Naddaf spoke to us about how less than a quarter of the millions of Christians who once lived in Iraq and Syria remain. These people trace their roots back to the inception of some of the world’s oldest and most storied Christian communities, but now they are subjected by Islamic extremists to the most heinous of threats and crimes imaginable. Those who can escape flee for their lives, while those who remain face all manner of degradation and discrimination, including financial and political disenfranchisement, and forced conversion, rape and even execution.
Within the borders of Israel, however, according to the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the Christian population is growing. Israel provides Christians with security, freedom of worship, excellent education, employment, health care and other rights and opportunities beyond what is available in many parts of the Muslim world. Father Naddaf and other Christian priests of various denominations, both within and beyond Israel and the Middle East, are clear: One of the safest places for Christians in the Middle East today is Israel.
Even as a lawyer, former judge and law professor at a Christian university, seeing the status of Christian citizens of Israel in the context of their plight across the broader region has given me a whole new appreciation for the blessings of liberty and rule of law. I cannot help but feel grateful that my Christianity has never made me a target of persecution in my home — which is more than many Christians in other Middle Eastern nations can say.
For the moment. All it would take is enough Islamic immigration to change all that.
We must strive to do more — especially in honor of the birth of Christianity — to ensure that Christian life in the Middle East does not disappear on our generation’s watch.
But we should also remember that the Middle East today can be the Midwest tomorrow.