The archbishop of Canterbury says Christians in the Middle East face extinction from radical Islam and need help from the worldwide community if they are going to survive.
“Christians face daily the threat of violence, murder, intimidation, prejudice and poverty,” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby wrote in a Sunday column for The Telegraph. “In the last few years, they have been slaughtered by so-called Islamic State, and in many countries they find themselves squeezed between the upper and lower millstones of pressure on them within society and of conflicts that afflict the region.
“Many have left,” Welby added. “Hundreds of thousands have been forced from their homes. Many have been killed, enslaved and persecuted or forcibly converted. Even those who remain ask the question, ‘Why stay?’”
Welby is urging the United Kingdom to take in Christian refugees.
“Across the region Christian communities that were the foundation of the universal Church now face the threat of imminent extinction,” he wrote. “We must support and help them in every way we can. Where they wish to leave, they will be refugees in need of asylum. Where, courageously and by the grace of God, they choose to remain, they need publicity and external, visible support.”
Christianity, Welby noted, was birthed in the Middle East, where the churches are “old beyond memory.”
“About 15 years ago I sat in the home of an elderly Palestinian Christian man in Galilee, on a hillside where Jesus himself may have walked,” he wrote. “Foolishly, I asked, ‘How long has your family been Christian?’ The man – who was as vibrant as someone half his age – gave me a look and replied, ‘Since about the time of Saint Paul, I should imagine.”
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.