Middle Eastern Christians and their evangelical friends abroad are worried about what the Arab Spring will bring for the future. Molly Worthen has an excellent piece in Foreign Policy about the troubling situation faced by Christians in the Middle East, and the reasons why Arab dictators often get support from American evangelical Christians. She writes:
It’s no secret that the Arab Spring revolutions have not done any favors for the roughly 25 million embattled Christians in the region…In the wake of Mubarak’s fall, hard-line Islamists in Egypt rioted against Christians and vandalized churches. In Syria, Bashar al-Assad has hardly been a poster child for religious freedom, but approximately 2.3 million Christians there view him as a protector whose wobbling regime is the only thing standing between them and hordes of Salafists who aren’t so interested in keeping up the appearance of a modern, secular state.
Christians in the Middle East have lived in a tough neighborhood, especially during the last 150 years. Massacres and expulsions destroyed a large Christian minority in what is now Turkey and Christian populations in other parts of the region have been under significant pressure. Emigration has also been a factor; economic stagnation combined with discrimination and insecurity led many Christian Middle Easterners to seek their fortunes elsewhere.Those who wonder about American evangelical support for Israel should look at how Israel’s enemies have treated the evangelicals’ friends; hostility toward Islam by some evangelicals is often directly related to the poor treatment of Middle East Christians.