Thursday, April 25, 2013

Religious freedom not a zero-sum game?

Christianity Today Review

There's a new book out on the worldwide persecution of Christians, which I'll need to read sometime, but until then, I rely upon reviews, like this on by Robert Joustra, "Religious Freedom Is Not a Zero-Sum Game" (Christianity Today, April 22, 2013), which looks at the approach taken by Paul Marshall, Nina Shea, and Lela Gilbert, of the Hudson Institute:
Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert, and Nina Shea . . . . [in] Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians . . . . focuses on Christians -- and rightly so, they argue, because Christians are, by some estimates, the target of as many as 75 percent of the acts of religious persecution worldwide. But this is not an isolated argument. Nor do the authors make the mistake of imagining Christians are the only victims. In fact, their deliberate appeal to American Christians on behalf of Christians is every bit a strategy for combating persecution in general. Religious freedom is not a zero-sum game . . . . [T]he authors address radical Islam and its manipulative use of blasphemy and apostasy laws. They call attention to the systematic suppression of religious freedom in lands where these laws are enforced, the attempt by some Islamic governments to have them enforced elsewhere, and the scandalous silence that persists around them . . . . The motivation for Marshall, Gilbert, and Shea is not about co-religious privilege . . . . The motivation is about religious freedom for all, regardless of religion.
But what if, for Islam -- and certainly for Islamists -- religious freedom means sharia? Wouldn't that imply a zero-sum game, i.e., more freedom for Islamists to practice their religion entails less freedom for other religions? If Islamists are not allowed to enforce apostasy laws -- the penalty for leaving Islam is death -- then Islamists' religious freedom is curtailed.

Speaking of apostasy, here are two stories of apostates in Iran: one about a man, the other about two women.

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At 7:13 AM, Blogger James D said...

Perhaps the problem is the unwillingness to apply the characteristics that are used to distinguish cults when it comes to entities that self-identify as being in unity with a major world religion. If one regards cult-like behavior (such as the intimidation of those seeking to leave) as beyond the scope of freedom of religion, then maybe freedom of religion can be salvaged.

At 7:36 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

That would mean freedom of religion as defined by some ruling orthodoxy, I suppose, but more to the point relevant here, intimidating apostates from Islam is written into Islamic law, which makes all of Islam 'officially' a cult whose freedom could be curtailed.

I think the world would be a better place without sharia's apostasy laws, but I can't deny that suppressing such laws is a zero-sum game.

Thanks for the comment.

Jeffery Hodges

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