Persecuted Majority

Is it an error in translation? Did the Pope really mean to say that of all the suffering people on earth, Christians are uniquely singled out for persecution? From MSNBC…

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI singled out Christians as the religious group that suffers from the most persecution on Thursday, denouncing lack of freedom of worship as an “intolerable” threat to world security.

As every American Pagan knows, the freedom of religion written into our Constitution is a precious human right. When you have to defend that right on a daily basis, as Pagans and other minority religions do, you really appreciate what it means.

So I’m with the Pope on freedom of worship.

Pope Benedict cites a terrorist attack on a cathedral in Baghdad that killed more than fifty people– a terrible crime of religious persecution, though almost certainly committed with political motives as well. The Iraq War put Christian civilians all over the region in harm’s way. Statements by American politicians that we are in a ‘culture war’ with Islam inflamed the situation.

The Pope, whose public statements are never taken lightly, chose in 2006 to throw out a provocation to the Islamic world that sparked violence and left the Vatican ‘clarifying’ his words. What a missed opportunity to sow peace.

Are Christians really the most persecuted on Earth? When I did a search for a list of persecuted religions I got pages of Christian sites and very little else. No question, Christians believe they are getting the worst of it. But there’s some math involved. Christianity is the number-one majority religion. ( 2-3 billion, between a third and half of the human race.) So if you want to toss a rock at a religious person, odds are you’ll hit a Christian. In all of the religious conflicts raging today, it may well be that Christians comprise the largest number of people affected.

Not to make light of this, but a smaller group, say a Native American nation whose children have been forcibly taken away and re-educated are persecuted in a different way. They face the eradication of their religion and history. Benedict, whose own personal history could be used to help heal the relationship between Christians and Jews, has avoided real dialogue about the failure of Germany’s Christians to defend German Jews.

Christians throughout history have persecuted each other and other religions. Christians have used the power of numbers to suppress religious minorities. This statement from the Pope seems to suggest that might makes right…

[Pope Benedict] blasted what he called “more sophisticated forms of hostility to religion, which, in Western countries, occasionally find expression in a denial of history and the rejection of religious symbols which reflect the identity and the culture of the majority of its citizens.”

‘Denial of history’? Let’s look at some recent history. Let’s look at what happened when a majority practiced identity politics. The young Joseph Ratzinger saw it firsthand. Western secularism and separation of Church and State was the recourse of minority Catholics in our own country, when anti-immigrant hatred led to attacks on churches and clergy. Ireland, a very religious country, is still recovering from decades of religious war where Christians murdered and terrorized one another.

The Catholic Church doesn’t get its Popes off of turnip trucks. When they speak, they don’t speak lightly, or imprecisely. Pope Benedict is provocative, both in what he says, and in what he leaves unsaid. The Catholic Church opposed the Iraq War, but has been muted and ineffective in its opposition. The Iraq War, among other conflicts, is a cause of attacks on Christians.

Is Benedict really defending freedom of religion as a human right, or selecting atrocious acts against Christians worldwide to make a case that Christians are suffering more than other persecuted people?

A favorite tactic of warmongers is fostering a sense of grievance. The latest message from the Pope will be useful to politicians in majority Christian countries who are already using religion to define their enemies.

A sense of grievance will not help minority Christians in Muslim countries. They have already been betrayed many times by pundits and climbers who shoot off their mouths from the safety of a TV studio.

To help minority Christians, the Pope has to be a real peacemaker. To ensure a world where the Christian majority can practice their many versions of the faith in dignity and safety, he has to defend the rights of all. To do less is to leave the door open to religious war.

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7 thoughts on “Persecuted Majority

  1. Nancy-in your zeal to portray Christians as people practically deserving what happens in places like Iraq because of (presumably)Christian extremists here,you kind of gloss over the horrendous depredations against non-Moslems in places like Iran.the Christians and Jews there are “tolerated” by the Shi’ites insofar as they haven’t been formally outlawed.Try being a Zoroastrian(the original religion of Persia)or a B’hai.Those groups were outlawed in their entirety and their lives collectively under threat.Many have been killed.I’ve met quite a few of them who came here as refugees.
    As far as Pagans,who is bothering them here?
    I’m unaware of anyone even taking much interest in Pagans and their beliefs to the point of doing them harm.
    Please don’t go harping about Salem in the 1600′s-that’s over and done with.
    Why the need to always be ready to defend an intolerant religion like Islam?What other religion these days prescribes death for converting to another faith?Stoning for adultery?Treatent of women as chattel?
    You the feminist of all people?
    I frequently don’t understand how you can have such tunnel vision.

  2. You’ll have to show me where I wrote that Christians deserve persecution. I’ll remove it immediately.
    Ted Haggard’s prayer warriors used to harass people in Colorado Springs for alleged witchcraft. There are horrific witchcraft persecutions in Africa, led by Evangelical ministers. Some of this carries over into immigrant communities in the UK. When Christine O’Donnell ‘dabbled into witchcraft’ everyone laughed, but I found it ominous. I been to church, and I know the kind of things they say.

    • You didn’t say they deserved it in so many words-more like an insinuation that if it weren’t for the overzealous Christians in the US it wouldn’t happened.It couldn’t be hatred inflamed by Muslim extremists,could it now?Be serious.this stuff has been happening in Lebanon and Egypt since WAY before even the first Gulf War.
      Do you know any Coptics?The Netherlands is home to many of them.Why?Not because they like Gouda cheese.Because the Muslim Brotherhood has carried out massacres and generally made life impossible for them in Egypt.
      Ted Haggard?That pervert?Who cares what he says-he has enough dirty laundry of his own not to harrass anyone.
      You’re exactly right about Africa.But I was speaking of the US,where no “witches” have been burned in about 350 years.
      I understand that the church you attended turned you off,and it seems you cn’t let go of it.
      I rejected the religion I was raised in,preferring to follow my individual beliefs,but I have no anger at those who practice it either.

    • How does one “look” Muslim unless they are wearing specifically religious clothing?
      Can you tell a Hindu from a Muslim person of East Indian background?
      Or a Christian Indonesian from a Muslim?
      Noe if you’re wearing a burkha or a robe and woven skullcap,then maybe you might”look”Muslim.
      Even names aren’t a sure thing.I grew up with two brothers named Mike and Joe Mohammed.They were Maronite Christians(one of them married a jewish girl),so I guess their surname didn’t mean much as to what religion they were.

  3. Observer, you still, somehow, manage to amaze me.

    There was no insinuation that Christians ‘deserve’ to be persecuted in Iraq, or anywhere else. Nancy was simply pointing out that Christians are no slouches when it comes to persecuting others.

    Their treatment at the hands of the Romans pales in comparison to what happened once the Roman Empire became officially–and exclusively–Christian.

    And, no, one can’t tell a Hindu from a Muslim. And that is the point. Just ask the Sikh gentleman who was unceremoniously escorted off the Amtrak train in Providence on 9/11. And Sikhs do (often) wear distinctive dress. That was what drew attention to the man. And the rest of the crowd on the train assumed he was a terrorist.

    Too many Americans think that a certain type of person ‘looks’ Muslim. And those unfortunates get a lot of grief from those wonderfully patriotic Americans who so firmly believe in religious freedom. As long as religion = Christian.

    In fact, in the eyes of a lot of Americans, that statement is true.

    Ask the atheists in Fort Worth who bought pro-atheist advertising on 4 bus stops. The signs were defaced, Christian groups were trying to organize a boycott, the tenor of the conversation grew decidedly non-tolerant.

    • If someone wants to be an atheist,that’s their prerogative,but why try to make others accede to your(the general you)wishes when it comes to Christmas carols or the Pledge of Allegiance,
      I don’t think we have to dance to the tune of every aggrieved minority that squawks as long as they aren’t actively discriminated against.
      Why the bile in your use of the word “patriotic”?I love this country,whatever its faults may be.
      The Europe you promote so heavily,from their economy to their”dining” isn’t doing so well these days,hmmm?
      You and Nancy automatically give a pass to anyone not white,Christian,and American-they start off being right in your book every time it seems.
      I don’t think in terms of group dynamics when it comes to people.
      It’s liberals like you who want to categorize folks in any situation.
      The crocodile tears you two shed for illegal aliens is a case in point.You liberals attach some false nobility to those who are violating the law by merely being here.No differentiation between they are students who were brought here as children or MS13 hoodlums.Your way of thinking infects the “Dream Act”-no criminal history background check,confidentiality in the application process(how insane is thaat?),and no prevention of piggy backing.Thankfully,the bill seems to have been defeated.
      Klaus-I don’t think you’re going to like what happens in 2012.

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