Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Real War on Christianity

There is always lots of talk in my neighborhood about the so-called War on Christianity that the liberal left wages in the United States. I understand why some people feel this way, but there is little evidence that Christianity or Christians are in any real danger in the US. The fate of Christians in Iraq, however, is another matter.

According to the U.S. State Department, Iraqi Christians and other religious minorities have experienced intense persecution by Iraqi Moslems since 2003. Religious leaders have been murdered, the faithful have been forced to abandon their homes and businesses, and churches have been bombed or otherwise destroyed. One half of Iraq’s Christian population (estimated to have been around 740,000 prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq) has fled the country in the past five years. According to USA TODAY (“An Exodus from Iraq,” June 30, 2008), Iraqi Christians are being told to “convert, leave, or die.”

Of course the Iraqi government isn’t sponsoring this evil, but they are doing little to stop it. And we are propping up the government.

Article 2 of the Iraqi Constitution supposedly protects religious freedom in the country, but the text also says “No law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established.” Just what it is that contradicts the established provisions of Islam is not spelled out, so nonMoslems and Moslems belonging to sects the government doesn’t like are all at risk. So much risk, that the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom put Iraq on its watch list.

This is outrageous! Thousands of Americans have died and many more continue to die to establish a free Iraq, and yet America itself admits that the country it expects to be a beacon of democracy is a danger to its own citizens over freedom of religion. According to our government’s own statistics, religious minorities in Iraq were safer under Saddam than under today’s U.S. backed regime.

Why are Christians in America not screaming about this? Why aren’t they demanding their government protect Christians (at least Christians) in a country under our occupation? Interfaith organizations in the United States should be marching on Washington demanding the safety of religious minorities in Iraq. But we aren’t. And we won’t. Why? Because deep down we know there is no point.

We didn’t and don’t give a damn about Iraq or Iraqis or freedom or anything other than our ability to suck the country dry of its oil. We are a Christian nation only when saying so gets those who say it enough votes to get us to act as a nation of barbarians. Being a Christian in America has everything to do with culture wars and nothing to do with actual wars, even wars against Christians.

Obama can’t change this. Only we can change this, and we won’t. At least not as long as the price of gas matters more than the integrity of our souls.

God bless America.


dtedac said...

Shalom Rabbi Rami:

The ongoing persecution of Christians in Iraq is only one of the disastrous results of the war in Iraq. (There is also the minor but ancient religion of the Mandaeans which is under persecution.) We must protest and work against this injustice and not just remain silent in order to facilitate Iraqi democracy. The truth is this: if all of the religious minorities in Iraq are driven out or killed, there will still be religious violence between Sunni and Shi'a. I speak not only against anti-Christian violence but also against all intolerance and hatred in Iraq. There will never be peace there unless the true battle for peace among all peoples is won.

Uriel82 said...

Dear Rabbi
I thank you very much for mentioning this fact that everybody has been ignoring since 2003.I am iraqi and I've seen the kidnapping,killing and persecution of christians,mandaeans and other religious groups,mainly by sunni and shiite extremists but also by other political parties who participate in the political process and at the same time use their militias to carry on their destructive agendas.Another important point is that the american churches want to convert arab christians to their versions of christianity,like what happened in 1917 with the british occupation.
Purim Sameach

Rabbi Rami said...

I have heard the desire on the part of many American Christians to convert Middle Eastern Christians to their brands of Christianity. The hubris is appalling. These ancient forms of Christianity are closer to the "original" than anything American Protestantism can imagine. Christians should be learning from one another not trying to convert one another.

Uriel82 said...

Well Rabbi
The nature of our abrahamic religions is revisionistic and each new movement claims to go back to the "origins" and tries to bring all the others to its "revealed" truth.
I think that it is a curse and a blessing at the same time.While it brings much dynamism and spirit,it denies the variety and richness of the tradition and it denies the existence of the "other" versions of the tradition too.
It might be the case that that is the paradox we have to live with.