- - Monday, February 8, 2016

President Obama’s selective attitude toward religious persecution is puzzling, even to those who are eager to give him the benefit of every doubt. He’s eager to reassure peaceful Muslims in the United States that they are welcome among us. It’s right and good for him to do that, though he could have moderated his hectoring tone. But the president seems curiously not to notice the widespread and growing persecution of some of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East. Some of these communities are threatened with a Christian holocaust.

Curiously, the so-called mainline denominations in the United States emulate the president’s passivity. Leaders of these churches, many suffering declining attendance and infatuated with their social and political programs, have remained silent or subdued in their response to the tragedy. The Vatican, on the other hand, has been only a little noisier about the persecution of Christians, when they, like the Protestants, should be shouting from the rooftops.

Mr. Obama visited a Baltimore mosque the other day to reassure American Muslims in the seventh year of his presidency (George W. Bush made such a visit to the Islamic Center of Washington, the most prominent mosque in the nation’s capital, only two weeks after the destruction of the World Trade Center and the attack on the Pentagon). In his sermon to the Baltimore congregation, Mr. Obama apologized on behalf of the nation for “acts of revenge and discrimination” against American Muslims. In fact, there have been only a few isolated acts of discrimination.

Even one is too many, of course, but his effusive apology recalls Bill Clinton’s apology for the burning of black churches in Arkansas, when in fact none had burned and he withdrew his tall tale. Falsely accusing America of sins and shortcomings always gets applause from certain audiences.

Suspicion of radical Islam is inevitable. There’s considerable evidence that mosques throughout the United States have been used to recruit radicalized Muslims for jihad, both here and abroad. Many American Muslims, who work to draw important distinctions between terrorists and righteous Muslims, were astonished that the president chose to visit a mosque with strong past connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and its terrorist affiliations.

Several of the president’s closest advisers on Islamic affairs regard the Brotherhood as a harmless Islamic version of the Christian Democrat parties in Europe. Their presence and influence in his administration adds to the confusion of his policies in the Middle East on immigration from that troubled region.

The president now proposes to bring in large numbers of Syrian refugees without the vetting that would keep out jihadists planted in the refugee wave. Only a few dozen Syrian Christians have managed to obtain visas, and the administration lamely explains that it cannot discriminate on religious grounds. But in countries which jihadists control, both Muslims and Christians comprise a political as well as religious class, and the White House knows this very well.

A new wave of persecution threatens millions of Christians in China. The government has demolished more than 1,800 crosses across Zhejiang province, a stronghold of Christians. The Communist crackdown is an answer to the extraordinary growth of the faith in China. Over the past three decades the number of Christians has doubled and then doubled again to more than a hundred million. The conversions have been the most dramatic among the educated Chinese, who are searching for the kind of sustenance for the soul and the spiritual reassurance that no president, Democrat or Republican, can deliver. The search for the reassurance of faith grows apace as China becomes more prosperous.

Mr. Obama is said to have brought up the closing of Christian churches in recent talks with President Xi Jinping, but the abuse of Christians must be answered by a forceful response from the president, something applied with the fervor and passion of his message to the mosque in Baltimore.

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