Arab Christians, minorities, reshaping US enclaves

November 10, 2011 - 4:10 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Arab Christians and religious minorities from the Middle East are taking refuge in the United States where they're able to safely practice their faith.

Because of war, the economy and persecution by Muslim extremists, the refugees and immigrants are quietly settling in small pockets across the U.S.

Some examples: Jordanian immigrants take Communion at an Arabic-language Mass in Albuquerque. Lebanese-Americans help raise nearly $2 million for major improvements to a West Virginia church. Iraqi refugees who practice an ancient religion that views John the Baptist as their teacher hold baptisms in a Massachusetts pond.

They are reviving old, dormant churches, bringing together families torn apart by war and praying collectively in Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus.

And religious leaders said if violence continues, more can be expected to seek safety in the U.S. while disappearing in lands where they're lived for 2,000 years.