Why is Rand Paul the only US Senator who has the guts to tell the truth about what’s happening to Syria’s ancient Christian community, the oldest in the world?Is he the only Christian in the Senate? Is he the only member of Congress who is thinking about them? From the AP story he tweets:

The dawn assault on the predominantly Christian village of Maaloula was carried out by rebels from the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra group, according to a Syrian government official and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-regime group.

At the start of the attack, an al-Nusra fighter blew himself up at a regime checkpoint at the entrance to the village, said the Observatory, which collects information from a network of anti-regime activists.

The suicide attack was followed by fighting between the rebels and regime forces, the Observatory and a nun in the village said. Eventually, the rebels seized the checkpoint, disabled two tanks and an armored personnel carrier and killed eight regime soldiers in fighting, the British-based group said.

The nun said the rebels took over the Safir hotel atop a mountain overlooking the village and fired shells at it from there. “It’s a war. It has been going from 6 a.m. in the morning,” she said.

Some 80 people from the village took refuge in the convent, which houses 13 nuns and 27 orphans, she said.

Nuns and orphans. If the president and a majority of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — Sen. Paul voted “no” — have their way, American cruise missiles will be aiding and abetting the forces attacking nuns and orphans in Syria. No getting around that, no matter what John McCain says.

True, we will in theory be harming the forces that gassed innocents near Damascus. I do not favor the US helping Assad or hurting him. I favor us staying out. We don’t know who the worst people in this civil war are. It is incredible that more American Christians don’t know, or don’t care, about the fate of their fellow Christians in Syria, and how our country — and our tax dollars — may soon be used to exterminate them. If you didn’t read the religion scholar Philip Jenkins’s essay on TAC today, you must. Excerpt:

To describe the Ba’athist state’s tolerance is not, of course, to justify its brutality, or its involvement in state-sanctioned crime and international terrorism. But for all that, it has sustained a genuine refuge for religious minorities, of a kind that has been snuffed out elsewhere in the region. Although many Syrian Christians favor democratic reforms, they know all too well that a successful revolution would almost certainly put in place a rigidly Islamist or Salafist regime that would abruptly end the era of tolerant diversity. Already, Christians have suffered terrible persecution in rebel-controlled areas, with countless reports of murder, rape, and extortion.

Under its new Sunni rulers, minorities would likely face a fate like that in neighboring Iraq, where the Christian share of population fell from 8 percent in the 1980s to perhaps 1 percent today. In Iraq, though, persecuted believers had a place to which they could escape, namely Syria. Where would Syrian refugees go?

A month ago, that question was moot, as the Assad government was gaining the upper hand over the rebels. At worst, it seemed, the regime could hold on to a rump state in Syria’s west, a refuge for Alawites, Christians, and others. And then came the alleged gas attack, and the overheated U.S. response.

So here is the nightmare. If the U.S., France, and some miscellaneous allies strike at the regime, they could conceivably so weaken it that it would collapse. Out of the ruins would emerge a radically anti-Western regime, which would kill or expel several million Christians and Alawites. This would be a political, religious, and humanitarian catastrophe unparalleled since the Armenian genocide almost exactly a century ago.

Nightmare indeed. If you are a Christian, why don’t you care? And if you do care, have you spoken to your pastor, your friends, and most importantly, your Congressman and Senators, about it? Rand Paul gets it. Do you?