This spring, many Syrian Christians rejected protestors' demands for embattled president Bashar al-Assad to resign. But Christians did broadly endorse democratic reforms that would bring an end to dictatorship.
"We do not support those who are calling for the fall of the regime, simply because we are [for] the process of reform and changes," said Yohanna Ibrahim, Syrian Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, at a religious summit in France.
In late May, International Christian Concern, an evangelical ministry to the persecuted church, released to Christianity Today an anonymous open letter from a "trusted Syrian source" that explains why many Syrian Christians support Assad's regime. The two-page letter calls for help from the larger Christian community. It says in part:
• "Christian service has flourished remarkably in Syria. We regard Syria as a model Arab country when it comes to freedom of worship."
• Radical Muslim groups are "responsible for the disturbance" in the country. "Christians are the first to be persecuted when we talk about governmental change."
• "We are seeking [Christians'] help to prevent what happened in Iraq and Egypt from happening in Syria. Christian service in Syria is in danger now."
An influential Syrian seminary educator who asked not to be named told CT that Syrian Christians are very aware of what happened to Christians in Iraq, including the estimated 500,000 Christian refugees who fled to Syria during the Iraq war.
"[Syrian Christians] are unwilling to see themselves becoming refugees in Lebanon," said the educator, who is currently in the United States to teach. He told CT that a majority of Syria's 1.4 million Christians want the Assad government to speed up reforms. "In a nutshell, Syrian ...