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Religion in the Middle East

Editor's note: FNC's Greg Burke will report on the status of Christianity in the Middle East tonight, tomorrow, and Friday on the FOX Report w/ Shepard Smith. Tune in at 7 p.m. / 2 a.m. ET to watch his three-part series.

The Middle East is undeniably the Holy Land — Islam, Christianity, and Judaism all claim deep roots in the region — but it is also the site of much violence, unrest, and political and religious discord. This week, FNC takes a closer look at the fallout:

Part I: Violence in the West Bank could cause Christianity to vanish from the birthplace of Jesus

Part II: Coptic Christians struggle to hold on to their heritage in the land of the Pharaohs

Part III: Christian exodus from Turkey, where freedom of religion exists mainly on paper

FNC wants to know what YOU think — What can religious leaders do to foster more peaceful relationships in the Mideast among the world's three major religions?

E-mail us at speakout@foxnews.com and join the discussion!


Here's what some FOX Fans are saying:

"At virtually every Mass I attend, there is prayer said for peace and love in the Middle East. I wonder if other religions ever pray for peace and love. Until a religion rejects the idea of "an eye for an eye," and admits that it is never acceptable to sacrifice the life of innocent people, whatever one's cause, the people cannot live in peace." — E.I.

"Is it really about religion, or is it about power and money? If one feels confident enough in their own religion why should they want to force it on others, sounds more like insecurity to me." — Helen

"I do not think there is anything that can be done. This has been going on for thousands of years, and people who think they can 'save the world' are sorely mistaken. To quote Billy Joel: 'We didn't start the fire, it was always burning since the worlds been turning.'" — Leonard (Los Angeles, CA)

"As a child I lived in Saudi Arabia. I come from a Catholic family, and we were allowed to have a priest to come celebrate with us once a month while we lived there. I was taught that we were guests in a foreign country, so when a priest was allowed to visit it was a privilege. Since we lived on a base, I never felt that our religion was oppressed. I just figured that we were being respectful to their culture. The countries in the Middle East need to learn to give the respect that they are demanding from others." — Lisa (Albany, OR)

"All of us are residents of the sandbox we call Earth. Those that can't get alone with, or at least tolerate, the other people in the sandbox should be removed from the sandbox." — Ron (Pelzer, SC)

"I have watched Jewish and Christian religions come together by showing respect for each other's beliefs and emphasizing their common heritage instead of their differences. Also, neither tries to dominate or eliminate the other. Our Muslim bothers must turn their backs on extremism and practice tolerance, as they ask others to do so to them. It cannot be a one-way street, but must be a route that can be traveled in both directions, for the benefit of both. A religion cannot preach that others must convert to their way or die and expect to be greeted with outstretched arms." — Tom

"To understand what drives the violence in the Middle East, it is important to look at the big picture. First, power corrupts, so leaders of the various sects are using religion to feed their need for power. Secondly, we in the West, during the last 50 years or so, have invaded the Middle Eastern culture. We didn't intend to, but it's an unfortunate consequence of all of the money we have sent and will continue to send to the region for oil. We need to push Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and the other more moderate Islamic nations to become better democracies and show Iraq, Iran, and others how this can be done." — Steve (Raleigh, NC)

"Religions don't get along anywhere, including the United States. Many Baptists historically have probelms with Catholics, a lot of Christians have problems with Jews, etc. In Northern Ireland, Protestants dislike Catholics and vice versa, and they killed each other for years. Now, the Iraq War has pitted Christians against Muslims. In fact, most wars and hate have been created throughout time by hatred for one religion against another. " — Dan

"They will never 'get along' as long as each is dedicated to the conversion or the destruction of the other." — John (Eldersburg, MD)

"Anyone who believes that peace can exist in the Mideast knows nothing of the history of the region or of the warring parties. The Jews and Christians believe the Lord bestowed the land in question to them. The Muslims believe the land is theirs. It's ironic that each generation's political leaders indulge in the folly that it will be they who finally bring a peaceful resolution to a problem that has existed for thousands of years." — Brian (West Chicago, IL)

"There can be no peace between religions, because religion is not based on reason. Since no religion can be 'proved,' any disagreements between religions will ultimately end in violence. Mankind is slowly evolving toward atheism (from paganism, to pantheons of gods, to a few gods, to one god, and eventually to no gods), and we can only hope that we get there before it's too late. Atheism is the only hope for a world of beauty and peace." — Joe

"Come out of the Bronze Age, throw away your barbaric 'holy' books and crack open a few science books. Then, maybe you'll realize we all share similar DNA, get enlightened and lay down your swords." — Bob (Metro East, IL)

"This controversy is not about religion. It is about POWER and CONTROL. Religion is merely the vehicle that is being used to achieve that end. There are some honest zealots of the faith, but the leadership's aim is power and subjugation of the masses." — Lina (Dallas, TX)

"Let the world community have an overseer role and guarantee freedom of religion to all. Religion should be seen as a unifier, not a divider." — Patrick

"The question is mis-stated. It implies that there is some sort of dispute between religions. This is inaccurate. The reality is that Islamic clergy and laymen believe that violence is not just a permissible, but mandatory, for spreading their faith. Their target is not only Jews, but also Christians, and even other Muslim sects. The only thing other religious leaders can do is to stop trying to make peace with those who worship violence, and prepare for the inevitable war." — Carl

"If the religions centered in the Mideast are ever going to come to some agreement and understanding other than killing each other, they all must first admit that their religions are all 'based on fantasy.' All religious writings and teachings were created by man, in order to control man. All the various religions are just like different theater productions, each with their own cast of characters, music, ceremonies, garbs, etc. And they are each their own best critics, saying in effect, that they put on the best show of the bunch." — Oliver (Arizona)

"If you know anything at all about history, then you can see that religion itself has been the cause of most bloodshed around the world. People in the Middle East in particular have been killing each other for centuries, and they still have not figured out that it solves nothing, so chances are pretty good that they will never figure it out." — Ed (Atlanta, GA)

"The Middle East will never stop fighting. Even if the Muslims succeed in killing all the Jews and the Christians, they already kill each other, and will continue to do so." — Bradford

“Islamic leaders must bring a halt to this senseless killing and bring some semblance of tolerance of other religions before Christians and Jews can join the discussions to bring about lasting peace..” — Phil (Rensselaer, NY)

“World religious leaders should continue to 'speak the truth' in the face of potential persecution. However, when the Pope — or anyone else who speaks against the violence in Islam — they are vilified and people are killed. Given that result, how can you expect that religious leaders 'do something' to stop the violence? It must come from within. If it doesn't come from within, then it must be handled on the world political stage — not the religious stage.” — Mike

“It doesn't matter what religious leaders do or don't do. It is unlikely that religious leaders will change their minds, and therefore, the multitudes of believers will continue to hold firmly to their teachings while hating and killing in the name of this or that God. In my view, religion — when mixed with politics — is by nature explosive.” — Phil (Glen Mills, PA)

“As a man of faith, I must accept what the Bible says regarding the events of the Middle East. I also would like to see peace there, but as the Scriptures state when it does come, it will be a false peace that will last for 42 months. Unfortunately there are many people in the world that do not except this belief. Things will continue to get worse as the Biblical Prophecies are fulfilled.” — Dave (Albuquerque, NM)

“ If there are really any 'moderate' Muslims, they are too afraid to speak out for fear they and their families will be killed.” — Carlin (Kelso, WA)

“That religion which teaches love, tolerance, and to care for your fellow humans is positive and a force for good in this world because it helps do God's work. That religion which teaches hatred, murder of those who disagree with its beliefs and intolerance is a cause of evil in this world.” — Dennis

“All Mullahs, Clerics, and Muslims in the Islamic religion need to be more vocal in denouncing terrorism and encouraging Muslims to be more tolerant of other religions and people. They must encourage the Madrasas to teach the peaceful aspects of the Koran. Also, some aspects of the religion must be brought up to current acceptable social standards, namely the treatment of women, if the religion is to continue to flourish in modern times.” — Bob (Fallbrook, CA)

“Ban Elton John! — Frank (Plano, TX)

“The leaders could formally engage in a universal peace pact that renounces violence in all forms. Short of that, they should declare an all-out holy war without quarter against each other until only a single religious sect remains; and then the rest of the world can step in and exterminate that sect. Perhaps then there will be peace in the Middle East and in the world; and even there isn't, the world would be better off without these three religions, which not only share common origins but common legacies of hypocrisy, intolerance, and murder.” — Ed (Redmond, WA)

“No religion should support, encourage, or suggest that violence is acceptable. No religious leader should preach hate or death to anyone. Violence and intimidation is not a method for spreading religious beliefs. Unfortunately, all religions have blood on their hands, so I have no faith they will accomplish anything toward true peace.” — Cathy (East Windsor, NJ)

“Religious leaders in the Middle East (and elsewhere) can teach tolerance for all religions. They should teach members of their own religion to respect one another and differences in practices. When a religion can be tolerant of differences from within, they are better equipped to tolerate differences from without.” — Peter (Rochester, NY)

“If all of the Middle East was divided back into the original Old Testament Biblical boundaries, there would be room for all of the religions of the region.” — Laura (Dover Plains, NY)