×
Christians in Baghdad living in fear
Baptist World Alliance
November 02, 2010
3 MIN READ TIME

Christians in Baghdad living in fear

Christians in Baghdad living in fear
Baptist World Alliance
November 02, 2010

WASHINGTON — Baptists

and other Christians in Baghdad say they are living in fear following an attack

on a Roman Catholic Church in the Iraqi capital that left more than 50

Christians dead.

The massacre occurred on

October 31 when al-Qaida-aligned gunmen attacked worshipers from Our Lady of

Salvation Chaldean Catholic Church in central Baghdad leaving at least 58 dead,

the majority of them worshippers, including two priests, and another 75 wounded.

Tony Peck, Baptist World

Alliance (BWA) regional secretary for Europe and general secretary for the

European Baptist Federation (EBF), reports the pastor of the Baptist Church in

Baghdad informed him that the “Christian community is now very fearful for its

safety” and that “some of the Baptist believers are talking about moving away

from Baghdad to North Iraq, others to Jordan and Syria.”

Baptist churches in the

Middle East are affiliated with the EBF, one of six regional fellowships of the

BWA.

Peck fears that “this very

understandable response would leave the Christian church in Iraq even weaker

than before.” It has been estimated that since the invasion of Iraq by the

United States and its allies in 2003, approximately half the Christian population

have fled the Middle Eastern country, leaving an estimated 550,000 believers.

Many of those who remain are increasingly harassed and often experience

violence.

News reports suggest that

part of the motivation for the attack was the plan by a pastor in Florida in

the United States to burn the Quran, Islam’s holy book, in September. The

pastor abandoned his plans, under pressure. “It shows again how Christians

in the West must be wise and considerate in the way they engage critically with

Islam,” Peck declared.

In the wake of the attack,

Baptists in Baghdad are considering changing the day of worship from Sunday to

Friday, the traditional day of worship for Muslims, and a practice already

adopted by Christians in several Muslim-majority countries.

“We deeply regret the

unjustifiable murder of Roman Catholic Christians during worship last Sunday in

Baghdad,” said BWA director of Freedom and Justice, Raimundo Barreto.

“We affirm our profound

solidarity with the Christian community in Iraq as they mourn those who lost

their lives. We assure our brothers and sisters in Iraq of the prayerful

support from the larger Christian family around the world,” Barreto stated. “As

followers of Jesus Christ we advocate for true and lasting peace in that

region. We call on Christians all over the world to diligently work to prevent

any escalation of violence, by not repaying evil with evil, but by overcoming

evil with good” (Romans 12:17, 21).

Peck asked the Baptist

pastor in Baghdad to assure believers in the city of the prayers of the

worldwide Baptist family.