Christian Exodus from Bethlehem

The Washington Post runs a big spread in its Dec. 22 edition under the headline, "What's missing in Bethlehem? Mayor urges tourists and Christians to return". The article, by Anne Marie O'Connor, tells readers that "for years, Palestinian Christians have been quietly abandoning the place where Jesus is said to have been born in a manger. Middle-class residents have packed their bags for less chaotic lives in Latin America, Europe and the United States." From 90 percent Christian in the early 1900s, Bethlehem, a city of 22,000, today is more than two-thirds Muslim. "Thanks to an exodus of Christians," O'Connor writes. Bethlehem was 60 percent Christian in 1990, but Christians lost their majority in the 90s. By 2000, Christians accounted for only 40 percent of Bethlehem's population. By recent counts, Bethlehem today is only 15 percent Christian and 1,000 Christians leave every year. So, what accounts for this Christian exodus from Bethlehem? O'Connor puts the onus on Israel -- "the...(Read Full Post)