"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Catching my breath

So much has been happening on the spiritual front this past week that I have hardly known where to begin. As a result, and in my usual procrastinating way, I haven't begun. Until now.

The Abdul Rahman thing in particular has left me almost speechless. For reasons of its own, the United States went to considerable trouble to overthrow the Taliban regime that sheltered Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and to establish democracy in that poor, ravaged country, which we also helped free from the bloody Soviet occupation during the 1980s. American soldiers still die there from the sporadic attacks of Islamist diehards. Yet now we learn that Afghanistan is an "Islamic" country not merely in the sense that its people are mostly Muslim, not merely in the sense that its laws may not contradict Islam, but also in the sense that Shari'a law applies to converts. Thus we learn it is the law in Afghanistan that a person who, like Abdul Rahman, converts from Islam to another religion has committed a capital crime. Rather than ignore or repeal such a law, the government in Kabul has let Rahman off on the technicality that he is not mentally competent to stand trial. Well, maybe he is and maybe he isn't. But he is now in hiding so that vigilantes do not carry out the Shari'a sentence in lieu of the Government's doing so. Is this what America has sacrificed for?

We must insist unconditionally that killing people for their religious beliefs is unacceptable. To put teeth in that, we must say that any government which enforces such a law is going to pay a price if we have any way of making them pay one. The Bush Administration does no such thing, of course, because it needs the cooperation of certain such governments in the so-called "war on terrorism," and the cooperation of Saudi Arabia especially to retain our access to sufficient oil supplies. What I say to that is this: it is not worth one ounce of American blood to support such regimes. We have two choices: insist on reciprocity, or gradually become dhimmi. Just as anybody in this country is free to convert to Islam without any legal penalty, and all Muslims are free here to profess their faith, so too must Christians and other non-Muslims have the same freedom in any country that expects and values our friendship. If we take that line, we will pay a big price economically. Bring it on. If we're going to be sacrificing anyway, at least let's make the sacrifice worthwhile.
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