Christianity Today Middle East Published Articles

Arab Christians and the Marrakesh Declaration


This article was first published at Christianity Today in the April print edition.

With the lilt characteristic of a Southern megachurch pastor, Bob Roberts Jr. introduced the most significant Muslim statement on religious freedom in 1,400 years.

“I am a Texan, an evangelical, and a Baptist,” the NorthWood Church leader told the crowd of more than 250 leading Muslim clerics from around the world. “You have made my job to build bridges so much easier. You have gathered to call people to change.” He drew hearty applause.

The Marrakesh Declaration, launched in Morocco this January, is a clear English-Arabic condemnation of terrorism and a pledge to better promote religious liberty.

“It is a very promising initiative. You could even say it is groundbreaking,” said Medhat Sabry, the Anglican Communion’s dean for Morocco and one of several non-Muslim observers (alongside Roberts) to the declaration’s signing. “But it is way too early to tell.”

This is because—from Cairo to Amman to Nazareth to Baghdad—the news caused barely a ripple in Christian communities in the Middle East and North Africa, whom the document is meant to comfort. Some Arab Christians saw a headline in the local news. Others didn’t hear of it at all.

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Asia Christianity Today Published Articles

World’s Biggest Muslim Organization Wants to Protect Christians

Nahdlatul Ulama
From the Jakarta Post: President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (center), accompanied by State Secretary Pratikno (second right), talks with Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) advisory board chairman Maruf Amin (second left) at the State Palace on March 31, during the International Summit of The Moslem Moderate Leader.(ANTARA FOTO/Yudhi Mahatma)

From my recent article at Christianity Today, published May 18, 2016:

Secretary of State John Kerry recently confirmed what most already knew: ISIS is committing genocide against Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.

Many Islamic leaders knew it too. In January, 200 Muslim religious leaders, heads of state, and scholars gathered in Morocco. They released the Marrakesh Declaration, a 750-word document calling for majority-Muslim countries to protect the freedom of religious minorities, including Christians.

Last week, another 300 Muslim religious leaders from about 30 countries did much the same. Gathering in Jakarta, Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim populus and historically known for its religious peace, the leaders denounced extremism and addressed its causes.

Texas pastor Bob Roberts, who has been actively building relationships with Muslims, thinks this is a sign of things to come. Roberts was present at the Morocco conference but not Indonesia.

“Muslim majority nations are now making statements globally and nationally to push back on extremism, and you will see more of it,” the evangelical interfaith leader told CT. “This is sending signals to their citizens and the world that the tide is turning.”

The Indonesian conference was hosted by Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the largest Muslim organization in the world, and was opened by the vice president of the officially secular country.

Please click here to read the full article at Christianity Today.