Christian religions, and particularly the Anglican Church, have been alarmed by the steady disappearance of Christianity in the Middle East. The number of Christians among the population of these lands has gone from 7 percent to just 1.5 percent, according to 2016 statistics.
This is why the Anglican clergy from Jebel Ali and Abu Dhabi accompanied the United Arab Emirates Minister for Tolerance to an international conference October 30-31, discussing religious tolerance in the Middle East. For the second time in two years, the Athens International Conference on Religious and Cultural Pluralism and Peaceful Coexistence in the Middle East brought together Christian, Muslim and Jewish Middle Eastern representatives.
Citing the trends of intolerance, radicalization and violence that afflicts a large portion of the Middle East, the Greek foreign ministry said the conference “aspires to move ahead to the strengthening of a dialogue framework that promotes rapprochement, networking, mutual respect and peaceful co-existence among the different religious and cultural communities of the region.”
The conference looked at issues such as how religious communities and their leaders can include and reintegrate refugees and migrants returning to their countries of origin, develop synergies for combatting extremism, and improve communication among the Middle Eastern communities.
The question as to whether Christianity might be wiped out in the Middle East was put last December to scholar and author Dr. Duane Miller.
“I don’t think it will be wiped out—not totally,” Dr. Miller said. “Many of the ancient churches will cease to exist in their homelands. But there is a substantial growth among the converts from Islam. That is the future face of Christianity in the Middle East. A small, struggling persecuted church that is largely evangelical or charismatic in its piety, struggling to form a brand new Christian identity—one that has never existed before in substantial numbers—that of the ex-Muslim Christian.”