Foreign Christians have more in common with founder of faith

Monday, April 10, 2017

Easter means colored eggs, new dresses and bunnies for most Americans, but the faith of at least 45 Christians in two Egyptian cities cost them their lives.

Islamic State suicide bombers killed at least 17 people in St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria, the place where Christianity started in Egypt, and at least 28 died at St. George’s Church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta.

The dead worshippers belonged to Egypt’s Coptic minority, one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, with traditions and ceremonies most American congregations wouldn’t recognize.

Egypt has been battling IS militants in the Sinai Peninsula for many years, but the shift to Christian communities is relatively new; 30 people were killed in a church bombing in Cairo in December.

There have been occasional attacks on Christians in America — Dylann Roof was expected to plead guilty today to killing nine people in the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015, but that as more racially than religiously motivated — but U.S. Christians are for the most part insulated from outright persecution for their faith.

That’s not true for Christians in many other parts of the world, where they face opposition ranging from subtle discrimination to outright murder such as suffered by those in Egypt.

A look at the original Easter story, with Jesus receiving a hero’s welcome only a few days before a cruel public execution, shows Christians overseas have more in common with the founder of their faith than comfortable American followers. And, even more reason to place their hope in the resurrection that is the keystone of their faith.

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