Despotic DemocracyNovember 12, 2008 — Deacon Duncan
Chuck Colson brings us news of “The Plight of Iraqi Christians.”
The past few weeks have seen an escalated campaign of terror and extermination directed at Christians in the city of Mosul. In one week alone, more than 3,000 Christians fled the city and sought refuge in “churches, monasteries and the homes of relatives in nearby Christian villages and towns.”
What Archbishop Louis Sako called the “campaign of killings and deportations” comes along with the all-too-regular “abduction attempts for paid ransom” directed at Christians…
The killings came after leaflets were distributed in Christian neighborhoods telling Christians to “either convert to Islam . . . pay a tax levied on non-Muslims for protection . . . leave the city or face death . . .”
Apparently, now that the inspired leadership of our conservative Christian president has brought democracy to the Iraqi people, the Muslim majority are attempting to shut out the Christian minority by various means, both legal and illegal. Gosh, bet nobody saw that one coming, eh?
Clearly, many of these acts are the criminal and terroristic actions of individual Muslims. But the situation is no better on the official legal front.
In a classic case of blaming the victim, CNN implied that Mosul’s Christians were somehow to blame for their own predicament. CNN reported that the “attacks may have been prompted by Christian demonstrations.” And what were they demonstrating for? “Greater representation on provincial councils.”
The nerve. Who do they think they are? …
Joseph Jacob, a professor at Mosul University, estimates that half of Mosul’s Christians have fled the city in the past five years. Like Christians in the rest of Iraq, they don’t see much of a future in the country where their community has lived since time immemorial.
It’s easy to understand why. If merely insisting on representation can prompt this kind of terror, why should they be reassured by anything the Iraqi government has to say? Especially as political Islam plays a greater role in Iraqi society.
Ah, yes, the abuses that can arise when one religious group exploits their majority status to make “infidels” suffer, eh? Would Colson’s outrage be any less if the Muslims eschewed violence and instead simply passed constitutional amendments defining marriage as the union of two (or more) Muslims?
Colson is right to decry the religion-based oppression of Christians in Iraq, but, at least on the official/legal front, the actions of Christians in America differ only in degree, and not in quality, from the actions being taken against Iraqi believers. In America, Christian-sponsored constitutional amendments inflict deep and enduring misery on a whole class of people whose only crime is that they are different in a way that some Christians don’t like. Just as the Iraqi Muslims are oppressing Christians with exclusion from government and burdensome extra “taxes,” American Christians are oppressing gays by denying them the right to marry. It’s a punishment, not for doing the wrong thing, but for being the wrong thing.
There is one difference: people choose whether to be a Christian or a Muslim. And that’s what Christians claim about gays, right? That they can choose not to be gay, and that this means it’s ok to try and bully them into changing? But in practice, that argument only “justifies” the persecution of Christians, who do have a choice, since it turns out that being gay is a biological condition, not a voluntary one.
Or here’s a novel idea: how about if we don’t oppress anyone for having “wrong” religious beliefs and practices? Suppose we take a consistent stand for the human rights of everyone, Christian, Jewish, gay, or even Muslim? How about if we promote tolerance and everybody minding their own business instead of looking for ways to use democracy as a weapon to inflict suffering on unpopular minorities?
Mr. Colson is all for human rights when the abuses are abroad, and are aimed at people like himself. But will he be just as magnanimous regarding the rights of those closer to home, when he doesn’t approve of the minorities being victimized? Integrity and consistency demand no less. What does Christianity require?