Christianity in Jordan

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A Greek Orthodox Church in Amman, Jordan.
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Christianity in Jordan is among the oldest Christian communities in the world.[1] Christians have resided in Jordan after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, early in the 1st century AD.[citation needed] Jordanian Christians are estimated to number 174,000 to 390,000 (2.8-6%) of the population of 6,500,000,[2] which is lower than the near 20% in the early 20th century, and lower than percentages of Christians in neighboring Syria and Lebanon. This is largely due to lower birth rates in comparison with Muslims and to a strong influx of Muslim immigrants from neighboring countries. Also, a larger percent of Christians compared to Muslims emigrate to western countries, resulting in a large Jordanian Christian diaspora. The Jordanian Greek Orthodox Christians are believed to be 120,000, most of whom are Arabic speaking.[3]

History of Christianity in Jordan[edit]

Jordanian Christians are among the oldest Christian communities in the world,[1] and the majority have always been Orthodox adherents to the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, which is the 16 Church of St. James, and was founded during Jesus’s lifetime. The Jordanian Greek Orthodox Christians are believed to be 120,000, most of whom are Arabic speaking.[4] Many of them are descended from the Ancient Arab Ghassanid and Lakhmid Tribes, and they have throughout history shared the fate and the struggles of their Muslim fellow tribesmen (although a significant number of Jordanian Christians are of Palestinian origin). In 630 CE, during the Islamic prophet Muhammad’s lifetime, many joined Muhammad's army (led by his adopted son Zeid ibn Haritha and his cousin Jafar bin Abi Taleb), and fought against the Byzantine army of their fellow Orthodox Christians at the Battle of Mutah in Karak (it is because of this battle that they earned their tribal name “‘Uzaizat” which means “the reinforcements” — and Archbishop Fouad Twal himself comes from these tribes); in 1099 17 CE tsome were slaughtered by Catholic Crusaders at the Fall of Jerusalem alongside their Muslim comrades; later from 1916-1918 CE during the Great Arab revolt they fought against the Muslim Turks alongside Arab Muslim comrades; they thereafter languished for a few decades along with their Muslim fellows under a Protestant Colonial Mandate, and in the Israeli Arab Wars of 1948, 1967 and 1968 they fought with their Muslim Arabs against Jewish opponents. Christian Jordanians have not only defended Jordan, but have also helped to build Jordan, playing leading roles in the fields of education, health, commerce, tourism, agriculture, science, culture and many other fields.

Denominations and societies[edit]

Among the recognized denominations the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic (Latin), Melkite Greek Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Maronite Catholic, Anglican, and Assyrian churches make up the majority of Jordan's Christian population. Also the Lutheran, Coptic Orthodox, Seventh-day Adventist, United Pentecostal, Latter-day Saints, and Presbyterian churches are recognized denominations while they make up a much smaller proportion of the Christian population.

In addition to the recognized denominations there are religious societies that are allowed to meet freely, but are not recognized as churches by the government. The recognized religious societies are the Evangelical Free Church, the Church of the Nazarene, the Assembly of God, the Baptist Church, and the Christian and Missionary Alliance.

Christians in Jordanian Society[edit]

Archbishop Fouad Twal is the Roman Catholic archbishop and Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem since June 2008.

Christians are well integrated in the Jordanian society and have a high level of freedom, though they are not free to evangelize Muslims.[5] They form a significant part of the kingdom's political and economic elite. Christians enjoy high economic and social opportunities in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan compared to the position of some, but not all, of their co-religionists in the rest of the Middle East. Christians are allotted 9 out of a total of 110 seats in the Jordanian parliament,[6] and also hold important ministerial portfolios, ambassadorial appointments, and positions of high military rank.

Jordanian Christians are allowed by the public and private sectors to leave their work to attend mass on Sundays. All Christian religious ceremonies are publicly celebrated in Jordan. Christians have established good relations with the royal family and the various Jordanian government officials, and they have their own ecclesiastical courts for matters of personal status.

The government of Jordan has contributed to restoring pilgrimages to the baptismal site of Jesus Christ.

Christian Institutions[edit]

Schools[edit]

There are many Christian schools in Jordan that educate students from both Christian and Muslim families. Some members of the royal family have attended a Christian school for a portion of their education.

The Rosary Sister's School is run by the Catholic Church.

The Franciscan Sisters School is run by the Franciscans.

The National Orthodox School is run by the Orthodox Church in Jordan and has received The Cambridge Queen Rania Award multiple times.

The Ahliyyah School for Girls, the Bishop's School for Boys, and the Schneller School are run by the Anglican Church in Amman. There are also a school for the blind, a school for the deaf, and a school for physically handicapped students run by the Anglican church.

The Baptist School of Amman is administered by the Baptist church in Jordan and enrolls students of both genders. The Baptist School band has played at many official government occasions.

Also De La Salle College is one of the most prestigious schools in Amman founded in 1950. An institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools founded by Jean-Baptist de la Salle. Our Lady of Nazareth college and Terra Santa college are examples too.

Hospitals[edit]

The first Hospital built in Jordan was the 'Evangelical Hospital' built in As-Salt by the Church Missionary Society.

The Italian Hospital in Amman and in Kerak were started by a Catholic surgeon and is entrusted to the Comboni Missionary Sisters. The Catholic Church also runs a maternity hospital and a general hospital in Irbid in northern Jordan.

The Government Hospital in Ajloun was originally run by Baptists.

The Annoor Sanatorium which treats tuberculosis and other lung diseases was founded by a Christian doctor. The Annoor Sanatorium is located outside of Mafraq in northern Jordan.

Several Mission Clinics were also founded across Jordan.

Holy Sites in Jordan[edit]

Biblical sites[edit]

Portions of the Biblical narrative took place in the towns and the country side that now makes up Jordan.

Bethany Beyond the Jordan where John the Baptist preached and where Jesus Christ was baptized is located on the Jordan side of the Jordan river.

Also, Mount Nebo where Moses viewed the Land of Canaan is located in western Jordan.

In northern Jordan there is a small creek where an angel met and wrestled with the patriarch Jacob.

The rock struck by Moses to bring forth water and the patriarch Aaron's tomb are both in southern Jordan.

The ruins of the fortress of the Ammonites are on a mountain overlooking downtown Amman. This is the site where King David had Bathsheba's husband Uriah the Hittite killed.

Christian Historical sites[edit]

Jordan also contains many sites of historical importance to Christianity. Madaba, a city south of Amman, is the site of a large ancient church with detailed mosaic tile work. There have been many excavations in Madaba that have un-earthed ancient Christian artifacts.

There are many Arab and Frankish castles from the period of the Crusades in Jordan. The most famous of which is Ajlun castle located in the Ajloun district in northern Jordan. Other castles include Montreal (Crusader castle) and Kerak.

Fuheis and Al Husn are two exclusively Christian towns of Jordan.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Address to Pope Benedict XVI at the King Hussein Mosque, Amman, Jordan by Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal
  2. ^ Guide: Christians in the Middle East
  3. ^ http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/54728.htm
  4. ^ http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/54728.htm
  5. ^ Miller, Duane Alexander (November 2011). "The Episcopal Church in Jordan: Identity, Liturgy, and Mission". Journal of Anglican Studies 9 (2): 134–153. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  6. ^ http://www.minorityrights.org/?lid=4944

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