Wall Street Journal Online Paulette Chu Miniter June 30, 2006
YORK, Pa.–Three days before terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. air strike in Iraq, Pastor Moussa Joseph Moussa led a group of 500 believers in praying for the insurgency to be defeated. After the bombing, Mr. Moussa says, “I really believe that because we prayed, God dealt with the evil forces.”
Inside his evangelical Arabic Christian Church on Alliance Avenue, Mr. Moussa, a native of Syria, is prone to deliver such patriotic lines. “I really commend this nation for having the heart to stand with another nation that has been oppressed.” While in Baghdad two years ago, he recalls telling U.S. troops: “You are doing a noble job liberating people. Sometimes it is costly, but you are doing the right thing, and we are praying for you.”
The 44-year-old pastor isn’t the typical portrait of Arab America that most Americans see. Drowned out in the post-Sept. 11 media frenzy to cover Muslims, Arab-American Christians have been neglected. But 63% of the country’s estimated 3.5 million Arab-Americans are Christian. Most are Catholic, while a smaller number are Protestant and Eastern Orthodox, which includes the Antiochian, Syrian and Coptic traditions. These Middle Eastern churches date to the dawn of Christianity. Most Copts are Egyptians who believe the Apostle Mark founded their church in Alexandria. Many Maronites hail from Lebanon, believed to be where disciples of St. Maron took refuge in the fifth century.
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