Arab church that backs Israel shuttered by Palestinian Authority

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By Ryan Jones.. The First Baptist Church in Bethlehem was ordered closed by the Palestinian Authority on Saturday, according to Rabbi Russell Resnik of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations. Resnik reported the incident after meeting with Pastor Steven Khoury, the son of First Baptist’s head pastor, Naim Khoury.

“Steven told me that…a representative of the Palestinian authority showed up at his father’s church in Bethlehem and told him to shut the doors–they were closing down the church,” wrote Resnik.

The Palestinian officials reportedly did not specify why they were closing the church, but Steven, who pastors his own church in Jerusalem, told Resnik that it must be because of his family’s support for Israel.

Observers have noted with suspicion that the shuttering of First Baptist in Bethlehem came just one day after the Christ at the Checkpoint conference, which was organized and hosted by Bethlehem-based Christian leaders who do not support Israel’s restoration.

Messianic blog Rosh Pina Project noted that Salam Fayyad, prime minister of the same Palestinian Authority that shuttered First Baptist, had only days earlier attended and addressed Christ at the Checkpoint.

In 2009, Steven Khoury was interviewed by CBN on the true reason for the suffering of Bethlehem’s Christians. You can view that video here:

 

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Published in Israel Today Magazine

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One Comment to “Arab church that backs Israel shuttered by Palestinian Authority”

  1. Milano says:

    Arab Islamic apartheid against Christians Vs the only free State -in the region- Israel
    Israel is the only Middle Eastern country where the Christian population is thriving instead of disappearing. Between 1948 and 1998, Israel’s Christians grew fourfold, from 34,000 to 130,000.[http://www.sayyestopeace.org/Hot%20Topics.asp]

    Eli E. Hertz: “Only in Israel Does Freedom of Religion Flourish.” He quotes: “Moslems have enjoyed, under Israeli control, the very freedom which Jews were denied during Jordanian occupation.” Judge, Sir Elihu Lauterpacht, 1968, He elaborates: “In Israel, both Jews and non-Jews are free to practice their faiths freely and openly on individual and institutional levels. That contrasts sharply with neighboring Arab states, where intolerance is the norm and the number of non-Muslims is constantly shrinking. The Palestinian Authority’s conduct – including the destruction of Jewish sites and violations of the holiness and neutrality of Christian ones – raises serious doubts as to whether the PA can be a trusted custodian of sacred sites in the Holy Land – Jewish or Christian.”[http://www.mythsandfacts.org/media/user/documents/freedom-of-religion.pdf]

    Philadelphia Daily News’ C. M. Flowers wrote (at the heels of the so-called “Arab spring,” Sep. 2011): “The very real persecution of Christians in the Arab world”

    If the “Arab Spring” bathed the Middle East in some much-needed sunlight, there’s at least one group that sees ominous clouds on the not-so-distant horizon. That would be the region’s embattled and apprehensive Christians, who’ve lived a kind of double life for many decades.

    While nominally citizens of the countries they inhabit, most non-Muslims, the majority of whom are Christian, are treated as second-class members of society because so many governments in that part of the world adhere to sharia, and anyone familiar with the Islamic legal system knows that it codifies discrimination.

    For example, while Christians are free (and in some cases pressured) to convert to Islam, Muslims are barred from converting to Christianity. In a notorious case now in the headlines, Yusuf Naderkhani, a Christian pastor, has been sentenced to death in Iran for refusing to renounce his faith, to which he’d converted as a teen.

    …an Egyptian Christian who petitioned the government to allow his daughters to receive a Christian education was forced into hiding after receiving death threats when his request was made public.

    So Christians in the Middle East can be forgiven if they don’t embrace the Arab Spring with as much fervor as their Muslim brothers and sisters because – to put it bluntly – the devil they know is at least more predictable than the devil they don’t – which is, without a doubt, Islamic fundamentalism.

    And in many parts of the Middle East, that’s the only form of Islam there is, despite what you hear from organizations such as the Council on American Islamic Relations.

    She goes on in explaining how Christians are effected when Arab-Islamic countries under “secular” tyrants are toppled.

    While Christians were as oppressed as the next citizen in countries when secular tyrants like Hosni Mubarak, Moammar Gadhafi and Saddam Hussein ruled the roost, at least they weren’t prey to the sectarian hostility rampant in other places such as Iran and Afghanistan, hotbeds of jihadism.

    It’s true that Egyptian Christians were always treated poorly by the government, but so was the Islamic Brotherhood, which was crushed into submission by the iron will of Mubarak and his military junta. Christians were merely as persecuted – or as tolerated – as any other group that the government didn’t like.

    But now, as the tyrants topple like dominoes, Christians have good reason to worry that they will be unique and tragic victims of this Arab awakening.

    To its great and unexpected credit, the New York Times actually publicized that fear this week in a front-page, above-the-fold article about Syrian Christians who are ambivalent about the campaign to overthrow Hafez al-Assad.

    The reason for this ambivalence is simple: Like Mubarak and Hussein, Assad continues the proud tradition of secular despotism, persecuting those who wear the cross, the hijab and the kippah with equal fervor. Those who say religion is the root of all evil in an attempt to maintain the devout wall between church and state conveniently overlook secular societies such as Syria and Baathist Iraq that terrorized their citizens in a religious vacuum.

    However, they would be right about one thing: Godless regimes generally treat all victims equally, whereas those founded on a specific creed play favorites. And while it’s hard to find very many nations where Christianity is the official state religion, and fewer still where they persecute nonbelievers, there’s really only one country in the Middle East that provides equal rights to all its citizens, of whatever creed: Israel.

    In fact, if you speak to Israeli Arabs, they will tell you that, while they may disagree with government policy in Palestine, they’re not afraid to bow toward Mecca in the streets of Jerusalem, or attend Christian services in Bethlehem. In short, they’re not forced to live their faith in the shadows.

    That’s clearly not the case in much of the Arab world, and Syrian Christians know it. So do their Lebanese Maronite friends, who’ve spent the last decade watching with increasing anxiety as Hezbollah and its Islamist members have infiltrated Beirut, making it difficult even… be seen going into a Catholic church…[http://articles.philly.com/2011-09-30/news/30229162_1_christian-pastor-egyptian-christian-syrian-christians]

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