Thursday, May 06, 2004

Christians and the Holy Land

I offer the following without much comment. I don't follow Israeli/Palestinian issues as closely as others do, but I offer this story as an interesting perspective on the whole relationship between Christians and the nation of Israel. We hear a lot about how Christian Evangelicals are among the biggest boosters of Israel in the United States (not always for the best of reasons). But, according to this story, Christians in the Holy Land aren't exactly getting a reciprocal level of support from the Israeli government.

New constraints squeeze churches in Holy Land

By Jane Lampman | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

JERUSALEM – Christian churches in the Holy Land are facing an unprecedented crisis that some say is jeopardizing their future, including their capacity to maintain the faith's holy sites and charitable institutions and to educate clergy.

The churches' difficulties have been building over the past three years as the Israeli government has failed to renew visas or residence permits for hundreds of religious workers, and has begun sending tax bills to charitable groups that have long had tax-exempt status, some since the Ottoman Empire. At the same time, the separation wall being built in Jerusalem and on the West Bank is slicing through religious facilities, in some cases taking land and blocking pilgrimage routes.

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