World Council of Churches attacks Israel to no gain
No matter how much the World Council of Churches dumps on Israel, Christians living in the Middle East are still being attacked
Late last month, 150 Christian leaders met in Lebanon under the auspices of the World Council of Churches (WCC) to talk about the status of Christians living in the Middle East, where, as most people know, followers of Christ are suffering from terrible acts of oppression at the hands of Muslim extremists.
Some Muslims, particularly in Egypt, have stood in solidarity with their Christian compatriots after these attacks, but for the most part, attacks against Christians continue without much organized opposition from Muslim activists or governments in the Middle East. Egyptian police, for example, have stood by and even assisted in attacks against Christians and their churches.
Sometimes the anti-Christian violence manifests itself as poorly organized (but terrifying) mob attacks against churches and their members. These mob attacks often take place after an imam has incited anti-Christian hostility in his Friday sermon. Other attacks are well-planned jihad bombings perpetrated on Christian holidays (such as Christmas or Easter) that result in deaths of dozens of Christians at once.
Such attacks have a cumulative impact. Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, the Vatican’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations, recently announced that more than 100,000 Christians are killed as a result of their faith each year. Tomasi didn’t mention exactly who was responsible for these deaths, but he didn’t have to.
We know who is responsible – radical Muslims intent on sending a very clear and simple message that Christians are not welcome or safe in Muslim countries.
Muslim violence against Christians is not a new phenomenon. It dates back to Islam’s founding according to Raymond Ibrahim, author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (Regnery, 2013). “Under Muslim rule, from the seventh century to the present, tens if not hundreds of thousands of churches once spread across thousands of miles of formerly Christian lands have been attacked, plundered, ransacked, and destroyed or converted into mosques,” he writes.
Christians themselves are suffering horribly, Ibrahim reports. “At this moment, from one end of the Muslim world to the other, Christians are being persecuted.” The suffering is associated with efforts to impose Sharia, or “the Islamic way of doing things,” Ibrahim reports, adding that “wherever and whenever Muslims are in power or getting more power, churches are outlawed, burned and bombed, while Bibles and crucifixes are confiscated and destroyed. Freedom of speech—to speak positively of Christianity or critically of Islam—is denied, often on pain of death.”
Ibrahim also notes that Muslims are not allowed to convert to Christianity and in many places “Christian women and children are routinely abducted, raped, and forced to convert to Islam. Increasingly, Christians are able to justify their very existence only by paying large amounts of ransom—money extorted in the name of jihad, Islam’s ‘holy war’ to subjugate or eliminate non-Muslims.”
This was the reality that the World Council of Churches (whose Twitter account is @oikoumene, a reference to its commitment to ecumenism) was slated to address at the meeting about Christians in the Middle East. Unfortunately, the organization is particularly ill-equipped to address the problem of Islamic violence against Christians. It is, however, quite able to attack Israel and its supporters.
Over the course of its history, the WCC – an umbrella organization of 350 Protestant and Orthodox churches – has worked assiduously to demonize the Jewish state while remaining silent about the sins of its adversaries. It has also made bowing and scraping in the face of Islamic violence a central plank of modern-day ecumenism. Speaking up forcefully on behalf of the victims of such violence is simply beyond the ken of the WCC. The organization is simply incapable of speaking the truth about this problem.
The WCC set itself up for failure even before the conference began. Prior to the conference, which lasted from May 21st to May 25th, the WCC described the upcoming meeting about Christians in the Middle East as giving voice to “ecumenical Christian concerns about the presence of Christians in the Middle East” which the organization stated, “differ from those who seek to kindle Islamophobia.”
The May 15th press release announcing the meeting also reported that the speakers would include Palestinian diplomats Afif Safieh and Samir Morcos, and a former assistant to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, a man who has utterly failed to protect Coptic Christians in their homeland.
This pre-conference press release, issued on May 15th, served as fair warning that meeting’s attendees would sweep the problem of Islamist violence under the rug and then accuse anyone who would talk openly about the impact of jihad against Christians in the Middle East of being Islamophobes. It also served as fair warning that the attendees would try to steer the conversation toward Israel.
And that is exactly what happened.
In the statement issued after the conference, the attendees lamented the kidnapping of two Christian clergy in Syria and said they “pray and hope that their speedy release, and assistance of the leaders of Muslim and Christian communities, will strengthen inter-religious co-operation.” The leaders in question are still in custody.
The reference to the captivity of these two leaders was about the only mention of Muslim wrongdoing in the document, which condemned Christian Zionism as an ideology that enables “the manipulation of public opinion by Zionist lobbies, and damage[s] intra-Christian relations.”
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