Acording to the American Religious Right, we are facing a struggle against Islamic extremism. Back in early 2001, an Orthodox Bishop from Lebanon's Balamand Theological Institute was the guest lecturer at the Orthodox Institute of Cambridge (UK) University, where we were studying. During one of the discussion sessions, he spoke about the Church in Muslim countries, as he had served as the bishop in support of the Church in Iraq. At the time, the Church was not allowed to practice any active proselytizing, but was free to conduct services, maintain property, and, as long as the building was not architecturally obvious as a Christian temple, establish new facilities to support existing Christians. In short, the bishop said that while the Iraqi government and people did not support Christianity, they did not actively oppose it. Christianity was holding its own.
In 2001, there were approximately 1.4 million Christians (primarily Orthodox and Catholic) in Iraq. Today, that number is estimated to be between 400,000 and 600,000. Post Operation Iraqi Freedom violence directed specifically toward the Iraqi Christian population and their churches has encouraged hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians to flee the country. Recently escalating violence has lead Christian leaders, in the interest of protecting lives, to recommend foregoing Christmas worship services in Iraq.
On behalf of my fellow Orthodox Christians in Iraq, I'd like to tip my hat to the American Religious Right, who see the invasion of that country as a positive step. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christian refugees (from Christian faiths dating back to the Third Century, not the American Johnny Come Lately sects), along with a few million Iraqi Muslim refugees really appreciate you and your president's stupidity.