CME 2023 Special Report | Resilience in the Eye of the Storm: The Christian Communities in Lebanon

The field research was conducted between the 20th and 28th of February, 2023 in Lebanon. The Christianity in the Middle East (CME) team interviewed stakeholders from Lebanon's numerous and diverse Christian communities. Within the broader framework of CME’s project titled “Christianity and Religious Pluralism in the Modern Middle East: International Politics and Religion at the turn of the 20th and 21st century”, the particular research explored how the Lebanese Christian communities view themselves and interpret the challenges they face. Moreover, the aim of the research was to provide a better understanding of intra-Christian relations and their implications on the Lebanese political scene. Finally, the study sought to explore the difference between the religious and political leaderships’ perspectives regarding the future of the Christian communities in Lebanon.

The field research was funded by the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (H.F.R.I.) under the ‘First Call for H.F.R.I. Research Projects to support Faculty members and Researchers and the procurement of high-cost research equipment grant’ (Project Number: 1422).



The Christian community in Lebanon is shrinking. However, the reasons behind its dwindling numbers are linked to the multiple crises affecting Lebanon and Lebanese people as a whole. Hence, the Christian presence in Lebanon is not threatened due to religious persecution, but economic hardships and political stagnation.

Lebanon is known for its system of consociational democracy that guarantees equal representation for the various sects and denominations, based on a strictly-defined allocation of political positions between the three dominant sects in the country: Christians, Sunnis and Shia. Even though confessionalism tends to create deadlocks in times of crisis, as evidenced by Lebanon’s failure to elect a President, the vast majority of Christian religious and political leaders consider the current system as the best available, with no viable alternative in sight. Hence, instead of looking for a replacement, it is suggested that Lebanon should return to the letter and spirit of the 1989 Taef Agreement that set in place the current power-sharing system, which is claimed to not be implemented as it should.

The landscape of the Christian political representation is crowded, as several parties vie for the support of the Christian constituency. Long-term personal feuds and ambitions interweave with deeply-held preferences with regard to political alliances, boiling down to a pro- or anti-Hizbullah stance, paint a complicated map of Christian political parties. However, local stakeholders do not consider political fragmentation as a hindrance for Christian unity, but rather a healthy expression of political pluralism.

The religious leadership remains an important point of reference. However, its influence is bigger in social rather than political matters. In the latter, the Churches’ ability to sway political leaders and members of their respective communities seems limited, even though some religious leaders express political opinions in their sermons.

With regards to intra-Christian divides, it appears that differences and political crevices between Christian denominations have eased over the past years. Instead, Maronite, Greek-Orthodox and Greek-Catholic labels for instance have lost their explaining power in identifying political preferences. Instead, what appears to emerge is an overlaying common Christian identity that muffles denominational particularism.

Christians in Lebanon are suspicious of external meddling in their internal affairs and the affairs of Lebanon in general. They do not wish to forge alliances with western countries as a counterbalance to similar alliances between the Shia and Iran and the Sunni and Gulf countries. On the one hand, they consider the West as barely Christian nowadays and, on the other, they blame western policies in the region for the challenges and threats Christians have faced and continue to face in the region.


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