Middle East Christianity will disappear within a decade as its followers face utter annihilation at the hands of Islamic State (IS) terrorists, a Catholic aid group has warned.
The alarming rate of decline in the Biblical heartlands means the religion could vanish in areas it has called home for millennia unless the world steps in, says the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.
In a report titled Persecuted & Forgotten? disturbing data outlines the plunging numbers of Christians in the part of the world that gave birth to the faith and makes a dire prediction of what the future holds.
The British-based group says: “At a time when the numbers of displaced and refugees have hit an all-time high, Islamists groups — ISIS foremost — are carrying out religiously motivated ethnic cleaning of Christians.
“In parts of the Middle East — particularly in Syria and Iraq — the crisis is so severe that barring significant interventions on the part of world powers, the Christian presence may disappear completely within a decade or even sooner.”
While Christians are under siege from IS terrorists in Syria and Iraq, the report notes that the religion is being targeted throughout the region. Christians who have managed to escape IS have fled to places of safety like Europe and Lebanon, while members of the faith also are under increasing pressure in Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations.
As Breitbart London has reported, the Christian population in Iraq alone has plummeted from 1.5 million in 2003 to current estimates of 275,000 and could vanish within five years. Sectarian violence following the U.S. overthrow of Saddam Hussein caused more than half of Iraqi Christians to flee. There were more than 1.2 million Christians 20 years ago.
The dwindling numbers are due to genocide, refugees fleeing to other countries, those who are internally displaced, and others hiding in plain sight and not allowing their faith to be publicly known.
In the last week alone, around 15,000 Christians have reportedly been forced from their homes north of Damascus, and their civilising influence will be lost forever. As the report concludes:
“The decline of Christianity may significantly damage the prospects for peace in nations and regions where Church leaders — lay and clergy — have played important roles in promoting and providing education, community development and interfaith co-operation.”
While the situation is most dire in the Middle East, Christianity is under assault in Africa and Asia, too, according to the Aid to the Church in Need study.
It cited persecution at the hands of Islamist terror groups such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and other extremists in Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania across the continent.
Asia’s Christians have been targeted by nationalist religious movements – Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist – in countries as far apart as Pakistan, Indonesia and Myanmar. Many of these groups increasingly view Christianity as a foreign, “colonial” import and believe its practitioners are demonic agents of Western influence.
Last month Breitbart London reported on calls for British Prime Minister David Cameron to officially recognise the mass slaughter of Christians in the Middle East as “genocide”.
A letter written by Lord Alton of Liverpool and Baroness Cox asked Mr. Cameron to “urgently consider” the plight of Christian asylum seekers and give them priority before they are wiped out.
The call came after Canon Andrew White, known as the Vicar of Baghdad, revealed he once invited Islamic State leaders to discuss the crisis. They responded by threatening to decapitate him.