Syria and the Christians there

On the whole, Christians feel relatively safe in Syria, but far from being free and equal. Patriarch Ignatius IV Hazim worries about the future of Christians in Lebanon and Syria because of the escalating waves of emigrations, yet he still is confident there will always be a Christian presence in this Holy Land country, finding it "inconceivable that Christians will live in all lands except that in which their Lord and Savior chose to live." He estimates a total population of 2.2 million Christians of which a million are Orthodox. The Syrian government, following its secular principles, refuses to ask citizens about their religious affiliation.

Atallah Mansour
Narrow Gate Churches p. 156, 7
Hope Publishing

Abu Daoud says: it is precisely because the government is run by the Ba'th party (which was founded by a Christian) that Christians feel safe. It is precisely because there is no Syrian democracy that the government is secular (well, more than others in the region). Democracy, as one Syrian Christian told me, would be a disaster for the Christians there.

Comments

Rob said…
Freedom is the key word here. People confuse democracy with freedom. I am sure that one's life is much more controlled in any modern, secular and socialist democracy than in many "oppressive" tyrannies of the past and present.

Don't get me wrong, I think democracy is great, but I have personal experience with the way an allegedly "free government" can interfere with people's lives. And I live in America. Europe would be like hell for me.

And I am not saying I would want to live N. Korea or anything. Just that many "regimes" may be uninterested in how citizens run their lives in general and only be concerned about external issues, thus allowing it's citizens, internally, a great deal of personal freedom (as in religious choice).

That said, while the Baath party was founded by a Christian, isn't it really an extreme left socialist party? I don't know much about it.
Abu Daoud said…
Rob:

Ba'th is a word that means resurrection in Arabic (and Hebrew I think). It was started as a very secular and nationalist organization/ The focus was, after centuries of Turkish imperialism and then decades of European imperialism, to form an identity not based on religion (which Christians well knew would be terrible for them) but on nationalism--we are Syrians first, only then are we Muslims or Christians.

It failed, though its legacy is still alive in Syria.

I think it was quite socialist-leaning. Though I'm not sure if that was part of its core identity or just a later decision.

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