Christians nearly absent in Holy Land
Aug. 04, 2011
By John L Allen Jr.
LONDON -- By now, the threat facing Christianity in its birthplace is depressingly clear. Christians represented 30 percent of British Mandate Palestine in 1948, while today in Israel and the Palestinian Territories they’re 1.25 percent. The Catholic patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, warns that the Holy Land risks becoming a “spiritual Disneyland” -- full of glittering rides and attractions, but empty of its indigenous Christian population.
That decline is part of a Christian exodus all across the Middle East, the reasons for which are well-known:
•Israeli/Palestinian conflict, which affects Arab Christians as much as Arab Muslims;
•Lack of economic opportunity;
•Rising Islamic fundamentalism;
•Christians in the area tend to be better-educated and more affluent, and thus stand a better chance of getting out. As one observer says, in the Middle East frustrated Christians emigrate physically, while frustrated Muslims emigrate ideologically.
Yet even when the big picture is familiar, its details still pack emotional punch. the rest