“It is not an exaggeration to say that Mideast Christianity, which has survived for thousands of years, since the very beginnings of the faith, today faces elimination in the very places where it first took root.” Professor Mark L. Movsesian, director of the Law School’s Center for Law and Religion, shared this impactful message during a talk he gave earlier this month on “The Crisis Facing Mideast Christians.”
The event brought alumni, students, faculty, and friends of the Law School together at St. John’s new Manhattan campus to learn about the plight of Mideast Christians, a topic Movsesian says Americans know little about. The worldwide persecution of Christians was one of the topics discussed at a conference on international religious freedom that the Center for Law and Religion jointly hosted in Rome this summer. As Professor Movsesian noted in his talk, that conference opened with a private papal audience at which Pope Francis remarked, “There are more Christian martyrs today than at any time in history.” Still, Professor Movsesian asserted, the West has shown little interest.
After describing the historical backdrop for the present persecution of Mideast Christians by militant Islamist groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Professor Movsesian outlined steps Americans can take to support organizations that are assisting the victims and the hundreds of thousands of refugees. Although recent media coverage of atrocities against Americans in the region has captured public attention, Professor Movsesian emphasized that the persecution of Mideast Christians is a centuries-old problem that, over time, has compelled millions to flee their homes, renounce their faith, or face death.
To close the evening, Dean Michael A. Simons observed that center-sponsored events like Professor Movsesian’s talk facilitate a vital exchange of ideas. He also noted that the “brick and mortar” of the centers are the dedicated St. John’s Law professors who bring their scholarship to a wider audience and foster dialogues on consequential, real-world issues. Reflecting on the evening, Mark Cipolla ’92 added, “It was an impressive treatment of an important topic that’s not getting nearly enough attention. I’m proud that the Law School is supporting Professor Movsesian’s efforts through the Center for Law and Religion.”
In addition to hosting events for the St. John’s Law community, Professor Movsesian and Professor Marc O. DeGirolami, the associate director of the Center for Law and Religion, maintain the Center for Law and Religion Forum, a regularly updated blog with readers in over 200 countries who rely on it to stay informed about issues and scholarship in law and religion.