Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What "true religious bigotry" Looks Like

In a terrific article from the December 31 Weekly Standard, Terry Eastland discusses the surprisingly successful presidential campaign of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. The following paragraph illustrates the style of passive aggressive demagogy that Huckabee has used to appeal to many on the Religious Right:

As for his opponents, they include not just the Republican establishment but also evangelical leaders he regards as part of the establishment; the "chattering class" of both old and new media; and secularists hostile to expressions of faith in public life. In Cedar Rapids, before a gathering of the Iowa Christian Alliance, Huckabee defended the TV Christmas ad in which he mentions "the birth of Christ." He remarked on "the level of true religious bigotry that exists in our culture--that for those of us who are people of faith, it's okay to have it but please keep it to yourselves."

As I have stated previously, I consider the view that religion is under attack in America to be as absurd as claims that "our freedoms are under attack" from the Bush Administration. Criticism of evangelicals or Christianity in general is not an assault on religion any more than criticizing the Dixie Chicks was an effort to "crush dissent".

Ironically, the very same issue of the Standard contains a piece by Paul Marshall on the persecution of Christians worldwide. Governor Huckabee and his supporters would be well served to read it and see what the standard for "true religious bigotry" really is:

In purely numerical terms, Christianity is the world's fastest growing religion. Two-thirds of Christians and four-fifths of active Christians live outside the West, so Christianity now may well be the world's largest non-Western religion.

But for probably hundreds of millions, Christmas is shadowed by pain and fear, since this is usually the peak season for anti-Christian attacks in Pakistan, India, Sudan, Nigeria, and beyond. It is also a time when the Chinese and Vietnamese governments are prone to arrest their unregistered believers.

Violence continues in Nigeria, where tens of thousands have died in conflicts around the spread of Islamic law. Nigerian Christians are also often the victims when others produce allegedly blasphemous drawings. During the 2006 "Danish cartoon riots," Muslims rioting in Borno State killed 65 and destroyed 57 churches and 250 businesses. Persecution continues in Laos, India, Iraq, Turkey, Ethiopia, Sudan, Belarus, and elsewhere. Some Christian leaders in Gaza have been murdered while others have had to flee. Even in Britain, newspapers are reporting threats to Muslim converts to Christianity: Many remain in hiding, and one has had to move 45 times.

Other examples could be given, but two of the worst, Burma and Eritrea, receive scant attention because their repressions do not fit any wider international political agendas, hence their victims are among the world's most forgotten people.

Do They Know it's Christmas? Not in Burma or Eritrea.


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