President Barack Obama, in one of his first statements overseas, declared to a Turkish audience and to the whole Muslim world that the United States is not a Christian nation.

According to a Gallup poll released last week, the American people don’t agree. Measuring religious preference among American adults, Gallup finds that 78 percent identify with some form of Christian religion. Less than 2 percent are Jewish, less than 1 percent Muslim and only 15 percent do not have a religious identity.

Based on the amount of media coverage of Muslims, Jews and atheists in America, you’d think these groups were the 78 percent. Not so.

Gallup concludes that the poll means “… that over 95 percent of all Americans who have a religious identity are Christians” and that “the United States remains a predominantly Christian nation.”

But Obama may have meant something else. Here’s the relevant quote from the May 2009 press conference in Turkey:

“One of the great strengths of the United States is … we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation, or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.”

It is bedrock American tradition, as stated in the first amendment to the Constitution, that there is no government-established religion, that freedom of religion for each individual is guaranteed. The United States has no state religion, no government church. In that sense, the United States is, of course, not a “Christian nation.”

But when Obama went on to describe our “set of values,” it is bedrock American history that those values are rooted in the Christian heritage of the founders. The founders, who described “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as among the freedoms given all of us by God and went on to establish a government to protect the God-given liberty of every citizen, were not speaking from an atheist or Muslim perspective.

Many columns have spoken to Obama’s error, but very few have noticed the effect of Obama’s statement on the Muslim world.

To the Muslim ear, Obama was saying that the United States would not protect Christian communities in predominantly Muslim countries because the U.S. was neutral on the issue of religion. An unfolding Christian bloodbath is the result.

From that day to this, with no end in sight, persecution of Christians in the 57 Muslim countries has increased with frightful results. The “Arab Spring” will be known to history as the beginning of a shameful period of triumphant radical Islam. In every Muslim state, all non-Muslims live in fear.

Just look at Egypt. The deposing of Mubarak and street mobs demanding democracy was met with cheers in Western capitals. When the mob was revealed as the Muslim Brotherhood (out of which al-Qaida was born) determined to exterminate Israel and impose a 21st century caliphate, the real price of Obama’s words became clear.

Coptic Christians in Egypt are among the oldest Christian communities, dating back to the apostles. The Copts predate the Muslim era by 600 years. Today, Egyptian Muslims burn the Coptic churches and attack worshippers who appeal in vain for U.S. protection and have this week sought mass exodus to the U.S. to escape death for their faith.

With the establishment of the state of Israel, the “Religion of Peace” expelled Jewish communities who had lived in their midst since the Diaspora. Israel took these Jewish refugees. Now it is the Christians’ turn for persecution by Muslims. And there is no “Christian” nation to protect them or take them in as they run for their lives.

In Iraq, Saddam Hussein had persecuted Iraqi Christians, a community of believers so old they still speak Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus. But the new Iraqi “democracy” has made life for these Iraqi Christians unbearable. After the U.S. invasion, and the long years of war, Obama pulled the troops out, leaving Iraqi Christians to their fate. They are fleeing Iraq.

Three Christian churches were hit by bombs during Christmas services in Nigeria yesterday, killing dozens of worshippers. A radical Muslim group named Boku Haram claimed “credit” for the killings, demanding strict Shariah law be imposed on Nigeria. Obama, vacationing in Hawaii, had no comment.

This abandonment of Christian communities in these Muslim countries has encouraged radicals in Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Indonesia – indeed, in every Muslim country to persecute Christianity in the knowledge that Obama will take no action, will make no defense of the defenseless Christian populations in those countries, because we are “not a Christian nation.”

The Gallup poll says we are a Christian nation, at least by the numbers. But the important question is, are we a “Christian nation” when it comes to defending the right to worship of fellow Christians around the world? Does the God-given right to freedom of religion extend to everyone – or to no one?

Obama has been vigorous and eloquent in his defense of the religious rights of minority Muslims in the U.S. Will Obama be as vigorous and eloquent in defense of Christians persecuted in Muslim countries, or has he abandoned minority Christians in Muslim majority countries to the bloodbath now getting underway?

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