The Syrian Christians


Dreher counters my post chiding Rand Paul for bringing religion into the debate over Syria, arguing that “Paul makes a tremendously important point that is rarely heard in mainstream American political discourse”:

Middle East Christian communities are anonymous in American political life. We never pay attention to them. American Jews understandably focus their concerns about the Middle East on the welfare of Israel. I don’t blame them. I don’t blame American Muslims either for prioritizing the interests of Islamic countries when it comes to US foreign policy. …

As evil as Bashar Assad is, his regime has been a defender of Syrian Christians. If Assad falls, it will likely be a bloodbath for the country’s Christians, at the hands of Islamists. Even so, I don’t advocate intervening in Syria on behalf of the Christians. We cannot and should not fight every fight. That said, it is important for American Christians to understand what’s at stake in this fight. Sen. Paul was speaking to a Christian audience. It is perfectly legitimate, even necessary, for him to point out to that audience that by taking the side of the Islamist rebels, the US would be aligning itself against the interests of the country’s Christians, who have been a constant presence in Syria since the very beginning of the Christian faith. The baptism of St. Paul, one of the most consequential events in world history, happened in Damascus, on the street called “Straight,” which is still there.

And that war against Christians is being waged by a “liberal elite”? Please. This is a genuine issue – but if you believe Rand Paul wasn’t blatantly pandering, you need your rose-colored glasses adjusted a little.

(Photo: Brother Putros, a Syrian monk, swings incense durring mass in the church of the Monastery of St. Moses the Abyssinian east of Nebek, Syria on May 19, 2005. The 11th century Syrian monastery of St. Moses the Abyssinian (Deir Mar Musa el-Habashi) overlooks a harsh valley in the mountains east of the small town of Nebek, 80 km north of Damascus. The ancient monastery was restored in 1983 by an Italian Catholic priest Paolo Dall-Oelio, who in 1991 established a new monastic community devoted to, amongst other things, to Moslem-Christian dialogue. More than 50 000 people from their different religions and different countries visit the monastery every year. By Ghaith Abdul-Ahad/Getty Images)