As usual, the airwaves and cable connections were filled with stories about Christmas in Bethlehem. ”
In birthplace of Jesus, Christian population has dropped from 86% to 12% in the past 60 years, following trend across Middle East, except in Israel.
The Times of Israel
Different people explain this phenomenon differently—not only for Bethlehem but for the whole Middle East and North Africa:
- Oppression from the Muslim majority.
- Oppression from the Israeli “occupation” [today, Bethlehem is under total Palestinian control]
- Christians have the economic means to emigrate.
- Some young adult Christians emigrate for better living conditions.
- Christians more easily integrate into western civilization.
The Times of Israel has a very interesting article entitled: “Christians worry ‘Silent Night’ may soon refer to their community in Bethlehem.”
The article presents the statistical evidence of this phenomenon and cites a number of sources that offer explanations as to why this is: including quotes from Vera Baboun (the Catholic female mayor of Bethlehem), a shopkeeper, etc.
I also found some of the external links interesting:
The article ends with an interesting quote:
“This issue of Christian emigration has become a political tool,” said Ramon, the researcher at the Jerusalem Institute. “There are right-wing groups, like Evangelists[sic], who are always saying ‘Christians are in such a bad situation with the Muslims and that’s why they’re leaving!’ Then there’s liberal Protestants who emphasize that the relations between Christians and Muslims are good, and it’s just the Israeli occupation that is responsible for all this.”
“The real situation is somewhere in the middle,” he said. “The question about whether to stay or go is really dependent on one single thing: the question, where my children will have a better future?”