Between two fires: the plight of Syrian Christians...

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Today's New York Times contains a fascinating and troubling article on the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church over Russian policy in Syria.

Troubling, not in what it says about Russia or the Orthodox Church, but in what it says by implication about the Church in America where nary a voice is raised in defense of our persecuted brothers and sisters across the middle-east even as our nation goes about promoting Islamic governments dedicated to the eradication of Christianity from the region of the world in which God inaugurated His Kingdom.

When was the last time you preferred the religious commitments of the Russian president to those of the president of the United States? If not before, that day is now here. The money quote from the article:

Three and a half months ago, intent on achieving a commanding win in presidential elections, Vladimir V. Putin sought support from Russia’s religious leaders, pledging tens of millions of dollars to reconstruct places of worship and state financing for religious schools.

But Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the patriarchate’s department of external church relations, did not ask for money. The issue of “Christianophobia” shot to the top of the church’s agenda a year ago, with a statement warning that “they are killing our brothers and sisters, driving them from their homes, separating them from their near and dear, stripping them of the right to confess their religious beliefs.” The metropolitan asked Mr. Putin to promise to protect Christian minorities in the Middle East.

“So it will be,” Mr. Putin said. “There is no doubt at all.”

Two-thirds of Iraq's Saddam Hussain-era 1.5 million Christians are now gone, disappeared from modern Iraq, according to the Times article. Moving on from Iraq, in Libya, Egypt and now Syria, the United States has continued its policy of siding with Islamist insurgent movements against governments which protected Christian minorities.

The article closes with a quote from an emigrant from Syria:

Usama Matar, an optometrist who has lived in Russia since 1983, said he did not harbor any illusions about Russia’s motives for defending Syrian Christians like himself, whom he called “small coins in a big game.” But he said there were few international players taking notice of Eastern Christians at all.

“The West is pursuing its own interests; they are indifferent to our fate,” he said. “I am not justifying the Assad regime — it is dictatorial, we know this, it is despotic, I understand. But these guys, they don’t even hide their intention to build an Islamic state and their methods of battle, where they just execute people on the streets. That’s the opposition, not just the authorities. And we are between two fires.”

Who would have thought twenty years ago that the primary great-power promoter of Islam in the middle-east would be the government of the United States, and the primary defender of Christianity in that region Russia? May God give us courage and conscience to stand with our brothers and sisters persecuted by American policy.

I don't know about you, but the situation kind of reminds me of Maurice Ogden's poem...