Friday, May 11, 2012

The Christians are leaving the places where their religion was founded. You are not even familiar with Arab Christians anymore meanwhile the Bible was written to take place in the Middle East. In Iraq and Egypt many Churches have been attacked and hundreds of religious people have been murdered. In Syria, revolutions seriously threaten Christian communities.
The one place where Christians are not suffering from violence is the Holy Land. The Palestinian Christians have been leaving in large numbers now for years. There have been so many gone there now that the Christian population is down to less than 2% and the idea of holy sites like Jerusalem and Bethlehem without local Christians is a real possibility.
Today, Bethlehem where Jesus was born , Nazareth where he grew up and Jerusalem where he died and where Christians believe he was resurrected are located in very unstable areas. Nazareth is inside the state of Israel, Bethlehem is on the Israeli occupied West Bank, the Christian section of Jerusalem is also under Israeli control. Meanwhile they do not believe in the New Testament of the Bible.
We know that for a place where it is written that it is a place for peace that in reality the region is the most fought over place in the world yet sacred to half of humanity. In Bethlehem, where it all began with the birth of Jesus, there is Saint Catherine’s in the Church of the Nativity there. It is a parish church for local Catholics. Now Christians there make up only 18% of what was once for centuries an overwhelmingly Christian town.
How can the area be the birth of Christianity and continue in it’s faith if there aren’t any Christians living there? In Jerusalem the numbers are even worse than in Bethlehem. There you can find a Greek Orthodox Church , The Church of the Holy Sepia that claims to house the sacred site, the tomb that covers the place where the Resurrection of Christ took place.
In 1964 the number of Christians in the city were around 30,000 now there are only about 11,000 Christians living in the Holy City out of a population of almost 800,000 that is just 1.5 % percent. The religious leaders are afraid that Jerusalem can become a tourist trap or a museum or even a spiritual theme park. It is a great place for tourists but not for the Arab Christians whose roots date back to the churches very beginning.
Christianity started in this region and Palestine was able to export the religion quite successfully. Palestinian Christians once a powerful minority are becoming the invisible people. They are trapped between a growing Muslim majority of people and surrounded by Israeli settlements. Israel has occupied the West Bank for 45 years. Israel is in control of the land there and the water resources and the Palestinians are literally being pushed behind large walls separating people.
Israel built the wall over the last ten years. Do you think any God that you believe in would want a literal wall built to separate people? This is an archaic solution to a problem that any reasoning people should agree on reminiscent on the great wall of China built centuries ago or the Berlin Wall that separated Germany. It is a wall that completely separates Israel from the occupied West Bank. The wall was built to stop Palestinian terrorists getting into Israel and it worked.
As a result of this ugly wall, terrorism has gone down 90% in this region. At the same time, the wall completely surrounds Bethlehem turning the little town where Christ was born into what its residents call an open air prison. There are people there who now live in houses surrounded by three sides of a giant wall. Not a great sight to see out your windows. What used to be the busiest commercial street in town in 2003 is now a dead end
For Palestine Christians the survival of their culture is in danger and towns like Bethlehem which used to be distinctively Christian now find Muslims being the majority of people there. Yes the veil of a Nun on the back of her head is now changed to be over the face of a woman to be like a Muslim woman there.

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