In much of the world, Christians do not have the freedom to celebrate Christmas.
According to a recent Pew Research study, Christians in 52 per cent of the world’s countries are discriminated against or mistreated in some way.
Christians are now the most persecuted religious group in the world.
Over the past century, millions of Christians have been killed or driven away by hostile governments and aggressive insurgencies.
It’s estimated between half and two-thirds of the Christian population has disappeared from the Middle East over the past hundred years.
After the end of the First World War, Syria’s Christian community made up about 30 per cent of the country’s population. There was a vibrant Christian community, and they were safe.
Today, the number of Christians in Syria has dropped below nine per cent. Given the ongoing crisis in Syria, I wouldn’t be surprised if that number was much, much smaller.
And yet, Canada’s refugee program now specifically avoids sponsoring persecuted religious minorities, including Christians from the Middle East.
If nothing is done to stop the persecution of Christians, it is possible that in our lifetime there will be no churches left within a thousand kilometers of Bethlehem.
This Christmas let us all pray for the safety of Christians, and let’s do more to ensure the survival of ancient Christian communities across the Middle East.