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Truce in the God Wars
Bahrain To Get First Catholic Cathedral

Here’s some unexpected but welcome news: Bahrain is now set to get its first ever Catholic cathedral, called Our Lady of Arabia. The country’s king, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, has donated the land on which the church will be built, the first time the monarchy has ever done so. Christianity Today has more:

The new Catholic cathedral will join a handful of other faith communities in the midst of a predominately Muslim culture. In 2011 the country hosted 19 officially recognized churches, including the National Evangelical Church, which has served primarily an expatriate community of Christians since 1906. […]

The Boston Globe reports that the Arabian Peninsula’s Catholic population is one of the fastest growing in the world. There are estimated to be 350,000 to 400,000 Catholics in Kuwait and Qatar, 1.5 million in Saudi Arabia, and 140,000 in Bahrain. Most of them are expatriates and migrant workers from the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and other countries.

Christians are being driven out of Syria, and converts are beaten in Pakistian and sentenced to death in Sudan, but here, at least, is one bright spot for Christians in the Middle East.

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  • Honk

    Darn nice of the Bahrainis.

    • Andrew Allison

      Worth noting that Bahrain is one of the four-or-five Shia-majority Islamic countries in the world. Would that the Sunnis were as ecumenical!

      • Honk

        I don’t think it is a Sunni-Shia thing, I think it is a Bahrain thing. They have always been the Middle east’s Nevada.

        • Andrew Allison

          It’s nevertheless noteworthy that one of the four-or-five Shia-majority Islamic countries in the world (as opposed to, say, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf states) is so tolerant. It occurs to me that a violent reaction to so-called “apostasy” represents a lack of confidence in one’s own beliefs.

          • Honk

            It is odd. Of course, the Shia’s have Iran to balance things out.

          • Andrew Allison

            Maybe. But we should keep in mind (as the Shiites apparently have not) that Sunnis represent almost 90% of the world’s Muslim population.(

          • sunpapushi

            The UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman all have churches almost exclusively serving the large expatriate populations. From experience, I can tell you that the UAE has churches of many denominations.

  • Corlyss

    The betting pool is now open on whether the cathedral will be blown up before completion or after . . . I’m sure the Sunni Bahrain rulers are aware that this paints a big bull’s eye on their little pile of sand.

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