- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 27, 2012

Did you have a Merry Christmas? If so, chances are you are not a Christian in the Middle East or many other parts of the world.

Under the headline “Christianity ‘close to extinction’ in Middle East,” London’s Telegraph reported this week on the findings of a shocking new study by a British think tank known as Civitas Institute for the Study of Civil Society.

The new study is entitled “Christianophobia: A Faith Under Attack,” thereby making the foundational point that followers of Christ are truly being persecuted in much of the planet, as opposed to the purported problem of “Islamophobia,” manufactured by Islamic supremacists to cow and induce Christians and other infidels to submit to their dictates.

Civitas puts it this way: “It is generally accepted that many faith-based groups face discrimination or persecution to some degree. A far less widely grasped fact is that Christians are targeted more than any other body of believers.”

As the Telegraph observed, the report draws on published estimates showing that as many as “200 million Christians, or 10 percent of Christians worldwide, are ‘socially disadvantaged, harassed or actively oppressed for their beliefs.” Also, “between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have left the region or been killed in the past century.”

The study’s author is Rupert Shortt, a journalist and visiting fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford. He argues, “Exposing and combating the problem ought in my view to be political priorities across large areas of the world. That this is not the case tells us much about a questionable hierarchy of victimhood.”

“Hierarchy of victimhood” is one very anodyne way of describing the forces at work. Another would be to call it what it is: a blatant double standard that has the effect of excusing and enabling Islamists, Chinese communists and other totalitarians to engage in mass and often brutal repression of Christians for simply exercising religious liberties our country claims to consider unalienable.

The effect of this practice is especially palpable in the region that was the birthplace of Christianity. Few native Christians feel safe living in Bethlehem anymore, and Islamic supremacists like Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas instead preside over the holiday observances there. Christians have fled Iraq — one of their ancient homelands — en masse. Many of them have wound up in neighboring Syria, where they and their native co-religionists face rape, torture and extermination at the hands of the “rebels” striving, with our help, to overthrow President Bashar Assad.

Meanwhile, in Egypt — a country that long was Christian before it was conquered by Muslims and still has a sizable minority known as Coptic Christians — has just adopted a constitution based on Shariah law. Even before that legal basis was established for treating such Christians as dhimmis (enslaved peoples), they were relentlessly attacked and, in some cases, killed, as their businesses were ruined or expropriated and their churches burned. In due course, it seems likely that those who can get out will do so.

Yet, as the Civitas study recounts, “Western politicians and media largely ignore the widespread persecution of Christians in the Middle East and the wider world because they are afraid they will be accused of racism. They fail to appreciate that in the defense of the wider concept of human rights, religious freedom is the ‘canary in the mine .’”

Unfortunately, in the case of the current U.S. administration, the practice of ignoring Christians’ plight seems rooted in far more ominous impulses. A powerful new book by Phyllis Schlafly and George Neumayr, “No Higher Power: Obama’s War on Religious Freedom,” recounts the president’s pervasive “Islamophilia” and relentless hostility toward other faiths. The authors conclude that Mr. “Obama is at war with Christianity.”

This makes all the more problematic the plight of Middle Eastern Christians seeking refuge from their oppressors. Under a practice deplorably begun during the George W. Bush administration, Team Obama relies on the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to determine who should receive that status and be allowed asylum in this country.

Since the Organization of Islamic Cooperation — the official Islamist multinational group that is the modern-day equivalent of the Muslim world’s governing caliphate — largely calls the shots at the U.N. these days, we generally wind up bringing in Islamists unwilling, or at least unable, to assimilate. Often they come from Somalia, Iraq and Bosnia, displacing Christians seeking to practice their faith in freedom and security.

There is a lot of talk at the moment about immigration reform. One strategically vital place to start would be revisiting the practice of importing Islamic supremacist clerics under the R-1 visa program, tens of thousands of Saudi “students” annually, lottery winners disproportionately drawn from Muslim-dominated nations and regions, and Islamist-heavy “refugee” populations, to the effective exclusion of Christians genuinely in desperate need of that status.

An “Islamophilic” Obama administration “at war with Christianity” is unlikely to take such steps if left to its own devices. The American people and their congressional representatives must, therefore, insist that it does so.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy (SecureFreedom.org), a columnist for The Washington Times and host of Secure Freedom Radio on WRC-AM (1260).

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