Christmas in Iraq: Not so Merry for Christians

by Bruce Webb
Iraq Christians face ‘bleak future’

Christians in Iraq face a “bleak future,” said Kassab, executive director of the Chaldean Federation of America, a nonprofit group that helps Iraqi Christians.

“We are heading for a demise,” he said. “It’s getting to the point where it might be an ethnic cleansing in the future.”

A recent U.S. government report focused on the plight of Iraq’s Christian minority. U.S. diplomats and legislators are worried, too.

“I think the Christians are caught in the middle of a horrible situation,” said U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat of Assyrian and Armenian ancestry.

She said Iraqi Christians are suffering as a result of “religious cleansing,” and she has urged more help for minorities who have fled their homes in Iraq.

The Iraqi government has worked to be inclusive and accepting toward Christians, but daily intimidation has cowed the Christian community, with crosses removed from churches, priests afraid to wear their clerical garb, the faithful reluctant to attend church, and churches hiring private security guards.

Iraq’s Christian population has fallen from as many as 1.4 million in 2003 to between 500,000 and 700,000 more recently, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

I suspect that many, perhaps most of the pro-war commenters here are at least nominally Christian and are looking forward to a celebration with family and friends tomorrow. And I wish all of you a Merry Christmas. But maybe you could take a minute and think about what this war has done to your co-religionists in Iraq. Because if this is what success and freedom and democracy look like you can keep it. 50% or more of Iraqi Christians including some who speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus, no longer can live in a land where their ancestors adopted Christianity almost 2000 years ago. And by this account the trend is continuing.

Maybe we can simply chalk this up to the Law of Unintended Consequences. After all Hoocoodanode?