Friday, October 7, 2011

A Plea for Religious Tolernance in Iran

If you want to watch a deeply Christian man speaking in the US Senate in a thoroughly Christian way about an issue Christians ought to care deeply about - watch this video. Marco Rubio, US Senator from Florida, is a inspiring model for anyone aspiring to bear a Christian witness into the public square.

This case of Youcef Nadarkhani ought to galvanize world opinion and dominate the news this week. So much that is trivial and ephemeral gets talked about in an endless loop in the media but this is a matter of life and death, rank injustice and oppressive totalitarianism.

Forces within the Iranian government are conspiring to have Youcef Nadarkhani executed for becoming a Christian. It is a moral scandal - and should be recognized by any person or any religion or no religion - that in the twenty-first century a state would presume to bind the conscience of its citizens and strip them of their basic human dignity by passing a law forbidding them on pain of death from choosing which religion, if any, to believe in personally. There is no more inhumane, cruel and intrusive act of a totalitarian regime than the act of inserting a government between an individual and God so as to attempt to bind his conscience in chains. Any state that does this de-legitimizes itself and buys itself the utter contempt of free people and nations everywhere.

Multicultural relativism is a cruel joke. It is a tool of dictators and tyrants. It is anti-human and incompatible with freedom, justice and the natural law. To say that this is Iran's culture and that Islam has different values than us and so we must not judge is to abdicate reason and morality and to lower oneself to the level of thugs and murderers. It is to sacrifice Youcef Nadarkhani on the altar of personal convenience.

The moral basis of this speech is intricately rooted deep in the Christian vision of man made in the image of God and endowed with conscience, reason and the capacity for moral choice. This vision of man has shaped the human rights tradition of the West and without Christian theology undergirding and sustaining it this human rights tradition will collapse. Already there are numerous signs that the collapse is already far advanced. You can see this fact demonstrated by the silence of liberal Protestantism - and politicians shaped by liberal Protestantism - about injustices like this in Muslin countries today. The rejection of the Christian view of man followed by the embrace of multicultural relativism leads inexorably to the silence of those who should speak out and the condoning of murder, tyranny and oppression.

The people of Iran are suffering. Europe frets about its oil supply and is mute, the US pursues its neo-isolationism under Obama and the UN continues it propaganda war against Israel instead of being concerned about genuine human rights abuses in countries like Iran. All this is reprehensible and thank-you to Marco Rubio for speaking out in a reasonable, Christian manner about one of the great issues of our time: the religious liberty of all people rooted in our nature as creatures made in the image of God.

Marco Rubio is an inspiration. May his pleas for justice not fall on deaf ears.

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