”Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a Berliner). Four simple words uttered by President John F. Kennedy on June 26, 1963 against the geopolitical backdrop of the Berlin Wall. Four words as appropriate today as they were 53 years ago.
Today in Berlin, Cairo and across the globe, Christians are crying out for us to stand against their oppressors with the same strength of character our late president showed the world.
But we live in an age of political correctness run amok, in which Christians are hesitant about showing their faith or wishing others a Merry Christmas. We are expert at ensuring we do not offend and we change our words to protect the sensitivities of others. We pluck the manger scenes out of our public squares, and even from our churches, as clergy want to avoid offending Muslims or any other non-Christian sect.
After the events of recent days, Americans have the opportunity to say that we will stand up to the assaults waged against our way of life by Islamists who seek our destruction.
Islam has declared war on Christianity. They offered no explanations as a church was bombed in Egypt, killing at least 27 worshippers and injuring dozens more. No “pardon me” was uttered as another mass slaughter of Christians at a Christmas market in Germany was carried out by who almost certainly is a Muslim migrant.
Instead of offering a message of strength, our response to the murder of our brothers and sisters the world over at the hands of Islam is to hide behind an overweight man dressed in red who delivers gifts. We have allowed an anti-Christ belief system to systematically dismantle our religious observances and push aside the bedrock of our faith — the gift of redemption delivered to us by the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus.
I came to this country from my homeland of Egypt in 2005 in search of Christianity and a safe place to practice a faith other than Islam. And while I still see traces of the freedoms I found when I arrived, I also see ominous changes taking place.
Meanwhile, Christians in majority Islamic countries continue to stand boldly in the face of unmitigated persecution. On Dec. 11, Al-Bortosia chapel, which is located near St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo, the largest Coptic cathedral in Egypt, was bombed in what has been called the deadliest attack on Egyptian Christians. Police did not rush in to secure the area or attempt to save any possible survivors in the church, which was littered with the shattered bodies of women and children who had gathered for Sunday mass.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, in an effort to calm the Christian community in Egypt, declared the impossible a mere 24 hours after the carnage — that the perpetrator had been apprehended. That would have been miraculous since evidence was callously trampled underfoot. He added that those who had died were martyrs for their faith. In a prepared statement, he said, “The pain felt by Egyptians now will not go to waste, but will result in an uncompromising decisiveness to hunt down and bring to trial whoever helped — through inciting, facilitating, participating or executing — in this heinous crime.”
In America, perhaps that would be true. But Mr. el-Sisi is president of a predominantly Islamic country, and Shariah is the law. After his well-intentioned statement, he was reminded in no uncertain terms by imams who crashed the funerals of the murdered Christians that Christianity is an inferior faith that cannot produce martyrs. The only martyrs in Egypt are Muslim, they raged.
Fast-forward a few days to Berlin and its ancient Christmas market. Again, celebrants of Christmas were slaughtered. The message was clear: Christians are fair game in the quest for the Islamic caliphate.
You see, to a Muslim from the Middle East, the act of killing Christians is sanctioned, glorified and noble. ISIS has called for the faithful to step up their attacks on Christians everywhere, especially during the holy Christmas season. And the faithful are only too willing to answer the call.
America is the great melting pot, but most of the newcomers we are welcoming as refugees to our nation aren’t interested in becoming a part of our society. Rather, they are bringing the cultural norms from their homelands of Pakistan, Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan and Somalia, and living them out here. And what has the Christian response been? To make them comfortable, even if it means we lose our faith, our traditions and our very lives.
This must not become the new America. I crossed the vast seas to come to freedom in this land, but I see that the persecution and silencing of Christians has crossed the seas behind me. It is not too late, but we must stand up now and loudly proclaim that our faith, our freedoms and our traditions are to be respected by all who come to our shores. The Egyptian Christians cannot say it. German, French and other European Christians are afraid to speak it. And the faint whisper of Americans standing up for their faith is drowning in political correctness and misplaced sensitivities.
I only hope the church in this great nation will embody Ephesians 6:10-11, which says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”
What’s at stake? Everything. Merry Christmas.
Mark Christian, a physician, is the president and executive director of the Global Faith Institute. A former Muslim Sunni imam, he converted from Islam to Christianity.