Friday, May 27, 2005

Secularism whimpers

This morning's headlines include two that form an interesting counterpoint.
Suspected suicide blast in Pakistan kills 19
Guantanamo probe finds 5 Koran mishandling cases
The secular West appears to have meekly accepted the proposition that it is possible to "mishandle" the book that forms the root philosophy behind the barbarism we all--Muslims and non-Muslims--suffer today. Lost in all the debate over tolerance, multiculturalism, and respect is the plain fact that the Koran espouses violence toward and subjugation of non-believers. The common response, "So does the Bible," ignores two other facts. The first is that Christians, being followers of the teachings of Christ, believe that the philosophy of tolerance and acceptance expressed in the New Testament supersedes the more violent philosophies of the earlier books of the Bible. The second is that the vast majority of the approximately 2 billion Christians on the planet do not take their religion seriously enough to believe that other religions should be restricted or banned (as they are in most Muslim nations). Thus we see a proliferation of mosques in predominantly Christian nations, while in the Muslim world you get your head chopped off for converting to Christianity. And I'm not talking about distant history. Right now in Iran, Hamid Pourmand sits in a jail cell awaiting what is in essence a trial for apostasy. (Iran has gotten wise to the fact that apostasy charges draw negative world attention, so they usually morph them into espionage or corruption charges.) Pourmand, who is also in the Iranian military, faces a possible death sentence for converting from Islam 27 years ago and allegedly not informing his superiors. (He claims to have documentary evidence that his superiors were aware of his religion, but let's not lose sight of the fact that he is being persecuted for his beliefs.) I would provide a link for this story, but incredibly there has not been a single mention of Pourmand in the mainstream media. Google his name and you will find a number of articles in the Christian press. Mishandling of the Koran is news. Beheading of members of religious minorities for their beliefs is not. If you think that claims of Muslim intolerance are exaggerated, read this report from Human Rights Watch for some examples of the application of sharia law in Iran.

Don't get me wrong. I'm no fan of any religion. I would prefer to see all the "holy" books moulder away untouched and forgotten. The vast majority of the world's Christians accepted centuries ago that theocracy and religious world domination was not in the cards. Sadly, none of us will know lasting peace until Muslims recognize the same reality--that secularism and democracy are the only route to a prosperous and just world.


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