10 November 2011
An altar server assists with communion at the Chaldean Church of the Mother of God in Detroit. (photo: Fabrizio Costantini)
The influx of Arab Christians to the United States has begun to attract attention from the press. Associated Press reports:
As war, the economy and persecution by Muslim extremists push Arab Christians and religious minorities out of the Middle East, the refugees and immigrants are quietly settling in small pockets across the U.S. They are reviving old, dormant churches, bringing together families torn apart by war and praying collectively in Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus. Religious experts say their growing presence in the U.S. is all about survival as Christians and religious minorities continue to get pushed out of the Holy Land.
And religious leaders said if violence continues, more can be expected to seek safety in the U.S. while disappearing in lands where they’re lived for 2,000 years. …
According the U.S. State Department’s 2011 reports on International Religious Freedom, for example, Iraq had an estimated Christian population of around 1.4 million before the U.S.-led invasion. The report says only around 400,000 to 600,000 remain and face increasing violence.
You can read the full story here.
ONE has been reporting on this demographic shift for years, as exemplified by Monsignor Robert Stern’s highly detailed essay, Middle East Christians on the Move. Over the past decade, the topic has been broached repeatedly — for example, in Vincent Gragnani’s East Goes West in 2004 and Dorothy Humanitzki’s Going West in 2002. Not just limited to the United States, the movement of Arab Christians to the West can also be observed in the nations of Central and South America — such as Honduras and Brazil, respectively.
Though it does not focus exclusively on Christians, Lori Quatro’s discussion on Detroit’s growing Arab-American population, Forging a New Detroit, is also of interest. The image used above was selected from this article.
Tags: Middle East Christians United States Emigration Arabs Arab-Americans