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Mideast Revolutions Draw Mixed Reactions from U.S. Christians

ICC Note:

“Christians ought to be careful in fully embracing these revolutions, be thoughtful and prayerful, because it may lead to governments that will oppress and persecute Christians.”

By Lillian Kwon

2/23/2011 Middle East (Christian Post) – The revolutions unfolding across North Africa and the Middle East against authoritarian regimes are drawing mixed reactions from Christians in the U.S.

Some say the protests for freedom are cause for celebration, but others are urging caution.

“We ought to be slower to celebrate these changes,” Michael Rydelnik, professor of Jewish Studies and Bible at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Ill., told The Christian Post Tuesday.

He did not deny that freedom and democracy was superior to dictatorship, but expressed concerns over what could potentially replace the current regimes.

There could be “greater influence for radical Islam,” he warned. “And that will lead to trouble.”

“Christians ought to be careful in fully embracing these revolutions,” Rydelnik explained. “Be thoughtful and prayerful, because it may lead to governments that will oppress and persecute Christians.”

An evangelical pastor in Keller, Texas, has a more optimistic view.

Pastor Bob Roberts’ immediate reaction to the anti-government protests was: “I think it’s fantastic.”

“People have a moral responsibility to stand up against tyranny, injustice and abuse from those who are in control,” the Northwood Church pastor explained. “Our history is replete with that. The Scriptures are clear to that and our own history is a validation of that. For us not to celebrate people wanting to live in a free society is to hold the world in ancient captivity, old paradigms and hopeless futures.”

Already, nearly 300 people have been killed in the crackdown against protesters in Libya. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the bloodshed “completely unacceptable.”

Thus, the future is far from clear. Rydelnik of Moody Bible Institute feels ambivalent that, for example in Egypt, those who gain control will be anti-Western, anti-Christian, and anti-Israel.

He fears that other countries could follow the same path as Iran, which went from a dictatorship to an Islamic theocracy. Hence, making it worse for Christians.

“When you look at it, it was far better for Christians and the Middle East when there was dictatorship – a moderate one under the Shah,” he noted.

“I do believe we Americans who support democracy – and that’s the right thing in many respects – will come to regret what has happened in the Middle East because there will be a greater influence of Islamic radicalism,” he added.

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