During my visit to the United States yesterday, I picked up a copy of USA TODAY newspaper. There was an article in section 8A Opinion Thursday August 22, 2013. Under the address “Egypt Christians Need Help written by Bob Beckel and Cal Thomas. I'd like to bring you this article that shows you how some American politicians think.
Cal Thomas is a conservative columnist, and Bob Beckel is a liberal Democratic strategist. But as longtime friends, they can often find common ground on issues that lawmakers in Washington cannot.
The article demonstrates a dialogue between Cal and Bob who are talking about Egypt and the Coptic Christians, and this is the text:
• BOB: The Christian community in the United States should put pressure on the Obama White House to speak out. CAL: The fragmented Christian church in Egypt needs to unify on this critical issue.
BOB: In the days since the Egyptian military's Aug. 14 crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, more than 60 Christian churches have been attacked or vandalized, with many set ablaze. Defense Minister Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has promised to rebuild these churches, but the worldwide Christian community has been virtually silent as Egypt's 10 million Christians face extreme persecution. Why is that, Cal?
CAL: Part of the problem, Bob, is there is no Christian "community." The faith is fragmented into numerous Protestant denominations and fissures within the Catholic and Orthodox churches. As a result, Christians don't speak with one voice. In the 1970s and '80s, Jews united in support of their fellow Jews in the Soviet Union to great effect. When Muslims feel slighted, much less attacked, they respond quickly. With Christians, there is mostly silent indifference.
BOB: A day after the crackdown, Pope Francis spoke publicly about the plight of the Coptic Christians. The Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt is one of the oldest Christian denominations and was founded shortly after Christ was crucified. Mark, the Apostle, visited Alexandria, Egypt, and introduced Christianity to the Egyptian people. It quickly spread throughout the country. That history alone demands a stronger response from the Christian community. CAL: Agreed, but to continue my point, there is another consideration. The author of the Christian faith said, "If they persecuted me, they will persecute you," and, "In the world you will have tribulation." So, again, persecution is something that is seen as an inevitable part of the faith. That still doesn't mean Christians should not be their brothers' and sisters' keepers. Speaking out can at least let the persecuted know they are not forgotten, and international pressure has worked in the past. Earlier this year, after a worldwide outcry, Iran released a Christian pastor, Youcef Nadarkhani, who had been sentenced to death for apostasy because he refused to renounce his faith.
BOB: Such pressure should start at the White House. So far, the Obama administration has also been largely silent on the persecution of the Coptic Christians. The Christian community in the United States should put pressure on the Obama White House to speak out. CAL: Right again. This administration and previous ones have regularly criticized Israel for alleged mistreatment of prisoners and pressured that country to embrace policies not in its interests, but they have little or nothing to say about persecuted Christians at the hands of Muslims. Do they fear "angering" Islamists? Watching the upheaval in Egypt, it's difficult to see how they could become any angrier.
BOB: Angry not just at us, but at some of the oldest elements of their own society. The Copts were in Egypt before the Arabs arrived hundreds of years ago. They have their own pope, currently Pope Tawadros II. Just because they practice a different form of Christianity does not mean they should be ignored. CAL: You know your history, Bob. Christians leaders should remember that Egypt isn't just any Muslim country, but one that plays an important role in their own. You will recall that Egypt offered hospitality to the baby Jesus after his family fled a decree from Herod the Great to slaughter all young children in the vicinity of Bethlehem because he feared that a rival to his authority had just been born. And the Old Testament speaks of God's continuing plan for Egypt (see Isaiah 19:21-25, which includes, "Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.").
BOB: The Copts supported the military takeover of Egypt from the Muslim Brotherhood. They were an important part of the coalition to demand the removal of President Mohammed Morsi. The Muslim Brotherhood has been persecuting Copts for years, and the abuse of the Copts by Muslims in Egypt goes back centuries. Egyptian Christians had every reason to support the overthrow of the Brotherhood. CAL: One indication that the latest attack on Christians was anything but spontaneous is a report in The Christian Science Monitor revealing that shops owned by Christians were marked by red graffiti just before they were attacked. It's a strange reversal of the story in Exodus. Jews marked their homes so their firstborn would not be killed by the avenging "angel of death" after Pharaoh refused to let the Jewish people leave Egypt. In that instance, the Jews spread the blood of a lamb on their doorposts. In this case, Christians have been marked for death with red paint.
BOB: Which is why so many Coptic Christians are fleeing their homes and churches and a number want to leave Egypt altogether. This is especially true in the northern Sinai, which is near civil war. I can't blame the Copts for wanting to flee Egypt, but it is sad to see one of the oldest Christian sects abandoning a place where the faith initially took root. CAL: This Associated Press story should encourage more to speak out: "After torching a Franciscan school, Islamists paraded three nuns on the streets like 'prisoners of war' before a Muslim woman offered them refuge. Two other women working at the school were sexually harassed and abused as they fought their way through a mob." Is this a "religion of peace," as we are so often told?
BOB: Too often, it seems like a religion controlled by extremists committed to the destruction of Israel and driving all Western culture from Muslim lands (or what they call Muslim lands). CAL: Right again, Bob. The fragmented Christian church needs to unify on this critical issue and speak out in defense of the persecuted in Egypt. Maybe the president will follow their lead. In addition to its own editorials, USA TODAY publishes diverse opinions from outside writers, including our Board of Contributors. To read more columns like this, go to the opinion front page or follow us on Twitter @USATopinion or Facebook.
Now, it looks like the West knows a lot about Egypt. The story of the Associated press was of a great effect as well. It was clear that Coptic activists could demonstrate the suffering of their families in Egypt before the world. Yet, they couldn't mobilize the Coptic Diasporas all over the world to demonstrate in support of their fellow Christians in Egypt. Finally, this article made clear that leaders of Churches are the reason behind the weakness of the Church and the suffering of their congregations in Egypt and all over the world.