A chilling new report predicts that Christianity could be completely wiped out from the Middle East within a decade.
The study by Aid to the Church in Need, an international Catholic charity, features data showing a dangerous drop in numbers of Christians in countries where they’ve lived for centuries, Fox News reported Monday.
In addition to violent purges by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, Christians are also facing pressure to renounce their faith or flee in Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations, according to the report.
The Christian population in Iraq has plummeted from 1.5 million in 2003 to current estimates of 275,000 and could be gone for good within five years, according to the report. 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. A dozen Christian families flee Iraq each day, according to 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, a Falls Church, Virginia, nonprofit dedicated to promoting religious freedom worldwide.
“Unless the global community gets involved, we will witness the loss of Christian witnesses in a land that is biblically significant,” said Elijah Brown, executive vice president for 21st Century Wilberforce.
“Last Christmas was the first time that bells did not ring out in the city of Mosul in 2,000 years,” Brown said. “I think that speaks to the reality that hundreds of thousands of Christian families are living on the edge of extinction.”
In addition to the Middle East, Christians in Africa and Asia are facing greater persecution by groups such as Boko Haram in Nigeria. In Sudan, Kenya, and Tanzania, extremist groups caused many Christians to flee.
The report warns that the world must change its stance, from one of complacency to active involvement, to reverse this frightening tide.
“It’s an answer that depends on the response of the world,” said Edward Clancy, director of outreach for Aid to the Church in Need. “What response is there going to be toward us if we act?”
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