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Jun 16

The Real War on Religion

In the US we toss around the phrase "war on religion" or "war on Christianity" as a political stone. We know nothing.

Religious Liberty is at risk all over the world, as this opinion piece from Forbes states.

I don't usually link to opinion pieces, but this one is long, well reasoned, and informative. By a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan,also a Senior Fellow in International Religious Persecution with the Institute on Religion and Public Policy at that.

Always, and I do mean ALWAYS, check source material. You can do that here.

The full report is 250+ pages (although if you are interested in a particular place I would recommend finding that one) so let's just summarize:

The report lists nine countries of concern by both the USICRF (United States Commission on Religious Freedom) and the State Department for the abuse of religious freedoms:Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan add to that more listed by the USICRF including Central African Republic, Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan, and Vietnam. Several other countries were designated as places to watch: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan,Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, Russia, and Turkey.

Of these some are what I am going to call "post-communist countries" (yes, yes I know its overstatement, but we are summarizing) who have a legacy of suppressing organized religion: China, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam and former Soviet states: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan,Tajikistan,Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and of course Russia. Some, like India and Burma, turn their attention faith groups foreign to the majority, such as Islam and Christianity. However, the majority of them save most of their wrath for sectarian differences, for people who would seem to outsiders to be part of the same faith: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Afghanistan, most of the aforementioned "-stan"s etc. Although, to be honest, if you are not Sunni Muslim in Saudi Arabia you are unlikely to have a very happy life no matter what you might be. Even North Korea allows registered churches. That's right, our good friends the Suadis are worse than Kim Jon Un in that regard (and others).

Eritrea (on the coast of Africa just north of Ethiopia) is a weird place all around and worth your time to investigate.

So what kind of people tend to be the biggest practitioners of religious persecution? Fundamentalists. Fundamentalist are those who hold "a markedly strict literalism as applied to certain specific scriptures, dogmas, or ideologies, and a strong sense of the importance of maintaining ingroup and outgroup distinctions, leading to an emphasis on purity and the desire to return to a previous ideal from which advocates believe members have strayed." Doesn't matter what those scriptures, dogmas, or ideologies are or where they came from. Christian, Muslims, Confucian, Pharisee, Orthodox Martian, on Randian. In some ways all of the above mentioned countries fall into that category, especially when you investigate the societal drivers behind persecution.

In the US the ones who cry the loudest about the "war on religion"? Are they the downtrodden, marginalized, hetero-orthodox minorities? Or are they the ones who have had and still have power and influence and are seeing signs of a cultural shift? A need to possible reform, reconsider, or at least re-negotiate?

Yeah, "war on religion" I don't think it means what you think it does.

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