Here is Part A of essay Three in the series: The Suffocation of Christian Communities in the Middle East from Paul Merkley, reprinted by permission of Paul and from The Bayview Review. See the links at the end for direct access to the rest of Paul’s work.
Christian individuals, Christian families, and historic Christian communities in the Middle East
As we contemplate the imminent suffocation of the Christian community in the Middle East, we have to keep in view two distinct but related historical processes.
One is the ubiquitous fact of attrition – the steady whittling down, one by one, of numbers of Christians everywhere, owing to defection, some of it voluntary, most of it not. As the days go by, individuals raised as Christians, persuaded by the benefits of submission (that is the literal meaning of Islam, the religion of the powerful) are defecting from the Church.
The other process involves intact communities of Christians, made up of individuals who draw their social identity from belonging to a conspicuously separate body that has worshipped together in a language distinct from the common language of the region, using a unique liturgy, in buildings heavily decorated (by Western standards) with distinctive works of religious art that they have cherished and protected from Muslim contempt for fourteen centuries.