Christians have become nearly extinct in the Middle East, the land where the religion began 2,000 years ago and flourished until the rise of Islam.
According to The Hill, the Christian population in the Middle East has dwindled down to dangerous levels, which only worsened during the reign of ISIS. In 2003, the Christian population of Iraq stood at 1.5 million; today, it has dropped to less than 250,000.
"The Christian population of Iraq has dropped from 1.5 million before 2003 to less than 250,000 today," reports The Hill. "Those who remain are in a struggle to keep their culture and heritage alive in a place where their families have celebrated Christmas since the time of Christ."
To help the Christians in Iraq in line with Vice President Mike Pence's promise, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has committed more than $300 million in aid for religious minorities.
"USAID Administrator Mark Green went personally to the region to conduct a needs assessment and appointed special representative Max Primorac to directly oversee the implementation of U.S.-funded programs," reports The Hill. "Green deserves credit for managing the difficult deliverance of aid in a complex sectarian environment."
In Egypt, Christians have increasingly faced intense persecution. In 2017 alone, 128 Coptic Christians were killed for their faith as their churches were bombed and homes desecrated. As a result, Coptic Christians have fled the region in record numbers. The situation has become so dire that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has taken extra steps to stem the tide, which includes "prosecuting terrorists who have targeted them, rebuilding destroyed churches and appointing the first Coptic female governor of an Egyptian province."
Besides Israel, the only other country in the Middle East that seems to let Christians live in peace is Lebanon, where 2 million Christian refugees have been welcomed after fleeing the horrific civil war in Syria. America continues to support the Lebanese Armed Forces while opposing Iran, which threatens Lebanon's stability.
As noted by PragerU, Christians are rapidly becoming one of the world's most persecuted minorities, primarily in the Middle-East and China:
One hundred years ago, 20% of North Africa and the Middle East, the birthplace of Christianity, was Christian. Today, Christians make up 4% of the population. Much of that decline has occurred in the last decade. In essence Muslims are rendering North Africa and the Middle East free of Christians.
Take Egypt, for example. In just the past two years, tens of thousands of Christian Copts have left Egypt. And many others want to leave, but they simply cannot afford to. Why they want to leave is no mystery.
On New Year's Day 2011, the Two Saints Church in Alexandria was bombed, leaving 23 Copts dead and 97 injured. In recent years, dozens of Coptic churches have been attacked, many burned to the ground. In August 2013 alone, the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters attacked and destroyed some 80 churches.
Knowing that Christians face this intense persecution in neighboring countries, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a heartfelt message of solidarity in his Christmas address last year.
"I’m very proud to be the prime minister of Israel, a country that says ‘Merry Christmas’ first to its Christian citizens and to our Christian friends around the world," Netanyahu said. "I’m proud that Israel is the country in which Christians not only survive, but they thrive because we believe in this friendship among people and we protect the rights of everyone to worship in the holy shrines behind me."