ARAB SPRING, COPTIC WINTER: “Christians under siege in post-revolution Egypt.”
Egypt’s Coptic Christians have long felt like second-class citizens in their own country.
Now many fear that the power vacuum left after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak is giving Muslim extremists free rein to torch churches and attack Coptic homes in the worst violence against the community in decades.
An assault Sunday night on Christians protesting over a church attack set off riots that drew in Muslims, Christians and the police. Among the 26 people left killed in the melee, most were Copts. For Coptic scholar Wassem el-Sissi, it was evidence that the Christian community in Egypt is vulnerable as never before.
“In the absence of law, you can understand how demolishing a church goes unpunished,” he said. “I have not heard of anyone who got arrested or prosecuted.”
There is not a single, public Christian church left in Afghanistan, according to the U.S. State Department.
This reflects the state of religious freedom in that country ten years after the United States first invaded it and overthrew its Islamist Taliban regime.
In the intervening decade, U.S. taxpayers have spent $440 billion to support Afghanistan’s new government and more than 1,700 U.S. military personnel have died serving in that country.
What about with religious liberty in foreign policy? How should the U.S. approach religious liberty issues in countries like Iran and Afghanistan?
By striving for perfection here and setting a good standard so that people would come and say America is a wonderful place. It’s free and prosperous, just like de Tocqueville said in the 1850s. America is a great nation because it’s a moral nation and people go to church. Others should look and see the results, but I don’t believe in the use of force. If you’re not a Christian, I don’t force you to go to church. The use of force backfires, it has unintended consequences. So you can only do this through persuasion and changing people’s hearts and minds, not the use of political force. Political force should be rejected in trying to mold the economy or mold people’s spirituality.
What about when Christians in other countries are being persecuted? Is there a point where the U.S. government might approach a case like pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s?
It can make a moral statement because there are infractions of civil liberties over there. Do we have any infractions of our civil liberties here? Plenty. When we’re perfect, maybe we can start considering that. But we don’t have the authority to do that. [It could] make a moral statement — but to use force, to say that somebody is treating somebody [poorly] in A, B, C country, so we draft young men and send them over there and say, “Pick up a gun and go in there and change their standards because they’ve mistreated people”? I cannot read that in the Bible. I do not get that from my understanding of what Christ taught.
RELIGION & SOCIETY: “Faith in America: The Role of Religion in the Public Square.” I can’t figure out how to embed this video discussion with Robert P. George and Russell D. Moore, so just follow the link.
WE ARE THE PROBLEM: “Prophets Against Profits? What Occupy Wall Street Misses.”
Like most protests, the Occupy Wall Street folks are better at identifying something that is wrong than identifying a way forward that is right. But even if the protestors don’t understand much about financial economics, they have a clear sense that something is wrong. That something, however, lies deeper than the behavior of a relative handful of Wall Street moguls. That something, I believe, is a sense of material entitlement that has crept into the American psyche. This sense of material entitlement has infected our personal choices, our politics, and our financial system.
ALL WHO DISAGREE WITH US ARE “EXTREMISTS”: “The Growing Impossibility of Interfaith Dialogue.”
Those at the gathering represented the voices of moderation from these various religious traditions and that was the problem. By the end of the meeting, I had the sense that we could all stand together, holding hands in a circle, and sing “Kum Ba Yah.” There was a good feeling and sense that we were all committed to encouraging a better understanding across religious lines, and also committed to finding ways to work together to create a world marked by peace and harmony, on the one hand, and an end of oppression and poverty, on the other. The unacknowledged elephant in the room was that the problem was not with the various segments of religious communities that were there represented. The problem was (and we are reluctant to talk about it) that in each of these religious traditions there are fundamentalist extremists who will settle for nothing less than the annihilation of those whom they believe to be competitors in the marketplace of religious ideas and forms of worship.
Perhaps interfaith dialogue is increasingly impossible because people who think like Tony Campolo stereotype people who don’t think like Tony Campolo as “fundamentalist extremists” bent on the “annihilation” of others and then go on to characterize themselves as “voices of moderation.”
Would Jesus have played or loved football? I am honestly not sure. But I am sure that true fans do not watch the game primarily to see spectacular hits or the mangling of bodies. What’s exciting is the long pass, the almost impossible fingertip catch, the stealthy interception. Consider especially the long run or kickoff return, when the runner’s ability to dodge tackles provides the frisson. At such moments it’s clear that what fans really love is not the collision but the avoidance of a collision. As McGrath puts it, “Averted danger is the essence of football.” I’ll keep watching football not because of the game’s violence, but because of its instances of (barely) avoided violence. That’s what gives the game its beauty and its thrills.
NEWS YOU CAN USE: “Seven things we learned from the Values Voters Summit.”
- Social conservatives have not found their Chosen One.
- Even here, the economy trumped social issues.
- Mitt Romney’s Mormonism will be a political issue.
- This time around, Romney will not attempt to explain his faith.
- Social conservatives will swallow hard and vote for Romney.
- Ron Paul’s supporters know how to win a straw poll.
- Herman Cain can electrify a crowd.
AMISH-ON-AMISH VIOLENCE? “3 Amish men accused of cutting hair, beards of others.”
CHARLES HODGE IS ROLLING OVER IN HIS GRAVE: “First openly gay pastor in the PCUSA speaks.”
WONK WATCH: “10 Signs You May Be a Distributist.”
FROM MY MAGAZINE: “Israel: You’ll Never Be the Same Again.”