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Friday, October 29, 2010

On Secularism and Middle East Christians



"Muslim leaders should answer a critical question: Does the Qur'an require Muslims to deny the legitimacy of the American system of religious and civil liberty? This is a fundamental question for the health of American constitutional liberty. Do Muslims affirm the legitimacy of the First Amendment, even for Muslims who may seek to leave their faith, and for other religions to seek to convert Muslims to their views? These concerns are relevant for "nontheistic" freethinkers as well, who desire freedom to persuade others to their point of view."

Lillback, Peter; Wall of Misconception, pg. 95, (2008), Providence Forum Press


On the heels of Dr. Lillback's above question, we see that the Austen Ivereigh of the guardian.uk, along with "some 180 patriarchs, metropolitans, archbishops and bishops of six different churches – Chaldean, Coptic, Syrian, Greek-Melkite, Maronite and Armenian – discuss(ing) the challenges facing Christianity with their Latin-rite brothers, with Pope Benedict listening in" explain how seperation of church and state might work in the region.

"..the Synod's call for Catholics and other Christians to be advocates in the region of a "positive secularism" – the term the bishops used was "positive laïcité", after a 2007 speech by Nicholas Sarkozy – is, at least, bold. It may also surprise Catholics in Europe and the US who criticise the secularist drive to separate faith and politics to find the church in the Middle East at the forefront of arguing that faith and politics should be, ahem, separate.


Sceptics will be quick to point out one of the basic rules of religious co-existence throughout history: secularism always looks better to religious minorities who have the most to lose from theocracies. And there's truth in that in the Middle East. Caught between Israeli expansionism and Islamic radicalism, the future of the tiny Christian minority depends, in large part, on basic rights of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience – on building, as the Synod put it, "an all-inclusive, shared civic order", in the words of its working document, that protects "human rights, human dignity and religious freedom".


But this isn't only about survival. Christianity is the religion that gave rise to secularism. Laïcité is a Christian by-product; secularism a Christian heresy. The church has always promoted a distinction between the two spheres – temporal and spiritual, civic and religious – without ever, of course, agreeing where the border between them lies."

I can see the need for greater moderation in parts of the Middle East when it comes to the persecution of Christians and the above cited article contains some examples of where persecution is the worst. Yet how many critics of Christianity actually know that the very concept of the civil authorities and religion occupying seperate spheres is a Christian one?



"Christianity, however, as taught by Jesus and Paul, and later by Augustine, separated religion from politics: the things that were God's from the things that were Caesar's."
Conor Cruise O'Brien

7 comments:

Whateverman said...

Christianity is the religion that gave rise to secularism.

and

how many critics of Christianity actually know that the very concept of the civil authorities and religion occupying seperate spheres is a Christian one?

Complete
Hogwash.

This, like persecution in the US, is a convenient Christian myth.

GentleSkeptic said...

One wonders if there's anything that Christianity can't take credit for.

Oh wait, of course there isn't.

Duh.

Froggie said...

JD,
Is this your idea of a joke?

The Maryland Crustacean said...

As usual, when devoid of a coherent response or desire to engage in a thoughtful discussion, throw potshots and ridicule, pretending that your assertions are so self-evident that they do not need to be articulated and justified.

Whateverman said...

Are you reading the same thread?

JD Curtis said...

Dinesh D'Souza did some great work on this topic, but the particular book I would like to reference is still packed away from my recent move.

OT - Has anyone else noticed that O'Donnell is rapidly closing the gap with Coons? Link

Whateverman said...

Ya know, if O'Donnell gets elected, it's going to reflect poorly on the state in question. Yet democracy is the ideal: let the people elect who they think is best suited for the job. If that person happens to be rather dumb but advocates values the voters find attractive, then so be it.

I tend to prefer intelligent politicians, but I often forget that other people want different qualities.