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Tue 9 Oct 2007 In: Comment View at Wayback

Unbelievably, fundamentalists have coined a new phrase, "Christophobia," to express how they are being 'discriminated' against in western societies... Let's deal with this. In some Third World societies without constitutional guarantees of meaningful religious freedom or faith/state separation, it is indeed the case that Christians may face personal assault, desecration or vandalism of their places of worship, faith-based homicide and suppression of their freedom to assemble, worship or practice. However, in western multicultural societies, it doesn't, precisely because of the above safeguards. As usual, the Christian Right argues the point on this. What are their examples of 'persecution and discrimination?" In one case, a Norwegian death metal rock band burnt down a series of historic stave churches- and one of their number is also in jail for homophobic homicide. So, that might qualify. Except they don't tell the whole story. What other examples of 'persecution and discrimination' exist? In the United Kingdom, one stewardess wasn't allowed to wear a crucifix necklace at work, and faced suspension because of it. Well, yes, that is a clear-cut case. As long as it's practicable, religious freedom laws would cover the right to wear legitimate religious symbols- like the crucifix, Star of David, or Muslim hijab (veil) if it is so wished. However, from this point on, things do start to get slightly ridiculous. I agree that if Christians want Sunday off on the basis that they believe it is a holy day, they should be entitled to have it off, but should therefore extend the same courtesy to other faiths during their sacred holidays. However, using the term Before Common Era or Common Era (BCE/CE) is not "Christophobia", it refers to an alternative dating notation that avoids reference to a possibly non-existent religious teacher. And then there's allegedly 'anti-Christian' artwork, which depicts Jesus, the Virgin Mary and Pope in situations where sanctity and the decidedly sexually profane, or depiction amidst human waste products, is undertaken. The Christian Right is free to protest if they find this 'offensive,' but they should not be allowed to use 'blasphemy' laws that confer special rights on their faith alone, and attack baseline civil liberties and human rights like free speech, nor should they vandalise such material. Freedom of expression and speech cuts both ways. In instances overseas where Christians are indeed persecuted and face assault, torture or death on the basis of their religious beliefs, then we should speak out against that, as in the Sudanese government when it attacks African Christians in Darfur. However, in Nigeria, Russia and Poland, conservative Christian governments and clergy collaborate with neofascists to suppress LGBT free speech, freedom of assembly and association. In that context, it is Christians who are doing the persecuting. In Iran and Iraq, it is fundamentalist Islamists who do much the same. Therefore, is it too much to ask the Christian Right condemns its own kind when they engage in such practices? Judging from their deafening silence, probably. Craig Young - 9th October 2007    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Tuesday, 9th October 2007 - 4:32pm

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