In the wake of the uprisings last year, the disharmony between Egypt’s military government and the Islamists continue to spread. Parliament recently suspended sessions for a week to protest the lack of transition by the ruling military. While the military has promised to hand over power by July 1, it will not be without setbacks and cracks in the foundation. What this points out is that the country is a long ways from being settled. Egypt’s Christians are facing the question of choosing politics or faith. It is a dilemma that many Arab Christians face. Carl Moeller with Open Doors USA says, “Christian minorities in the Middle East and other places are being particularly singled out, and persecution is increasing. In fact, our belief is that there is intentional eradication of Christianity going on in many parts of the Middle East.”
In Egypt, Christians have had to ally with the secularists in order to have enough clout to be heard in Parliament. Moeller explains, “Radical secularism here in the United States is committed to the elimination of religion from public life. But in Egypt, it’s a little bit different. I think one thing we need to remember is that the Christian church is going under a huge amount of pressure there.” In other words, in the Egyptian context, believers have to focus on common interests of the minorities and offer their support in return for the rights to practice their faith. “Radical agenda has called for the elimination of the Christian community in Egypt. Imagine that: 12 million Christians being called ‘worthless’ to the majority of the Parliament.” In this context, sharing the hope of Christ still happens, but it happens quietly. Moeller says, “The risks of doing so become exponentially greater as more extremist law has come into play. However, the Gospel continues to go forward even in greater degrees and numbers.”
Perseverance under pressure produces what Moeller calls a Paradox of Persecution. “Christians began to understand what it took to survive…maybe as secret believers, maybe as underground believers, maybe believers who would align themselves and provide services within this society that would give them a value.” It’s kind of a “dandelion” effect: the more the Christians are persecuted, the more the Church grows. “Last year, I reported that we were able to distribute more Bibles in North Africa in the previous nine months, than we had in the previous nine years, combined,” says Moeller. “That’s an indication that there’s just an incredible amount of hunger and openness to the Gospel, despite all the opposition.”
“Egypt’s elections loom; future uncertain for Christians” Mission News Network, 26, January, 2012.