• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Converting Iraqi Christians to Christianity

A report in the Washington Times confirms what I already suspected, about the gushing reports of new churches opening across Iraq. The reality, according to a local pastor, is that

“While the number of churches increases, the number of Christians does not.”

The missionaries lavish money in poor Christian areas, and cause annoyance by presenting local Christians with Bibles, causing Bishop Meti Mattoka of the Syrian Catholic Church to ask:

“Do we really need this huge amount of Bibles? Do they think we don’t know Jesus Christ?”

What’s more, local Christians seem not to share American optimism about the future of Iraq:

Some are deliberately lowering their profile in anticipation of a diminishing American military presence.

The report also states that Yonadam Kanna, the only non-Muslim member of the Governing Council, had failed in an effort not to have the children of mixed marriages automatically registered as Muslim.

Kanna, as I’ve noted before, was the only member of the Council to argue for exiled Iraqi Jews being allowed to come home – he didn’t get very far there either. The Times also notes that “dozens” of Mandeans have been killed since last year – a shockingly large figure also attested by the Sabian Mandaean Association of Australia which as of last July was citing eighty dead, and many rapes since the fall of Saddam.

Meanwhile, one (rather crude) set of statistics by the Pew Research Center reveals that:

Majorities in Morocco (73%), Pakistan (62%) and Turkey (52%) express negative views of Christians.

In this context, one hopes that American missionaries are being careful not to jeopardise local Christians by their actions. Certainly, a number of missionary organisations appear to be above-the-board humanitarian outfits that enjoy the respect of local Muslims. But others may be making life a lot more dangerous for those without the option of fleeing to the USA if things go wrong.

3 Responses

  1. The sheer stupidity of it! These missionaries will likely accomplish nothing more than to endanger the faith and lives of Iraq’s ancient Christian population… not to mention Christians in other parts of the Middle East who have been reporting that they sometimes take the brunt of anti-Western anger.

  2. I wonder what the missionaries think of the Yezhidis. You’re doing good work, keep it up.

  3. […] by Richard Bartholomew While the most-reported foreign Christian groups in Iraq concentrate on annoying local Eastern Christians in lieu of not being able to convert many Muslims, it’s refreshing to read about a Christian […]

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