Skip to comments.Editorial: Equal religious rights
Posted on 06/18/2005 8:28:32 AM PDT by sionnsar
While ARCIC clearly is only show in town as far as our ecumenical leadership is concerned, the Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue continues albeit with far less of a fanfare, and it is good to note that this dialogue recently met in Cyprus. The Church in the East has undergone many changes in the last few decades, notably with the end of the Soviet empire and its break-up. The Russian Orthodox Church is no longer under communist oppression, and is far more confident of itself, as are the Orthodox in Romania, Serbia, Georgia and other East European nations. These churches point us towards the Middle East and beyond, reminding us of serious oppression of Christian minorities. The Iraq war has not helped the large Christian minority there whatsoever. Lebanese Christians are a threatened minority.
Turkey, officially a secular state, is secular only the sense of resisting a theocratic rule by the Islamic clergy, not in the sense of being a pluralist state religiously. Hence a Christian mission could not go and build a church in Turkey, and Syriac Christians suffer oppression. The very leader of the Orthodox communion of churches, the Ecumenical Patriarch, lives in restricted circumstances in Constantinople, renamed Istanbul after the conquest in the 16th century. There is no freedom for Christianity in Turkey, surely a crucial matter to be properly and robustly addressed in any talks preparatory to Turkish admission to the EU. Christians in Egypt, the Coptic Church, some 10 per cent of the population, are under permanent pressure, again with no real concern shown by the liberal West. Christianity seems to be an acceptable target for victimisation in the eyes of many, for some strange reason.
The reason may well be that liberalism has changed. It used to be a cultural movement embodying a universal concern for justice and truth. But it has mutated into a concern for some groups, but not for all. The phenomenon of post-colonial guilt, taking root in the 1960s especially, has changed the way liberalism perceives the world. What the Serbs were accused of doing in the Balkans was in fact nothing like the vicious persecution being visited on Zimbabwe by Mr Mugabe, and yet the race card means that he can continue with no fear of Western intervention, and with the backing of other African states. Persecution of Christians in the former Soviet Union states grows apace, but who cares Christians are not a group included under the umbrella of our new rights culture.
And at home the governments bill to ban any criticism of religions which might be deemed to stir up religious hatred is not really going to help get Christianity a level playing field, it is designed to neuter criticism of minority faiths. But is the government a whit concerned with actual hate against minority Christian groups in other nations? The present situation is radically asymmetrical, and politically correct secular state is happy with this imbalance here, as is the Turkish secular government there.
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