Iraq Free? Not for the Christians

I try to avoid politics as much as possible on this blog, but I cannot help but comment on the persecution of Christians in Iraq in recent years. Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator and there is no doubt the world is a better place without him. But while the world may be a better place without him, Iraq is not a safer place for Christians. As David George of Knight Ridder points out, Christians were actually more free under Hussein than the current situation:

Ironically, many Christians are facing worse times than under Saddam Hussein’s secular regime. Saddam viewed Christians as non-threatening and elevated a Christian, Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, as the public face of his regime. But he also barred Christians from building new churches and kept strict controls on them.”

I have met some Iraqi Christian here in Florida who had to flee Iraq for their lives just last year. The source of the persecution is not the new government, it’s just that the new government is not strong enough to protect the people from all the extremist factions.

But Saddam’s influence extends beyond the grave. An anonymous source inside Iraq told Ava Thomas of Baptist Press:

When Saddam Hussein thanked the Christians on public television for supporting him — even though they were simply being peaceable under his rule — he basically gave them a death sentence. He put a big political target on their backs.”

And now politics is keeping the world from realizing how bad the persecution of Christians actually is in Iraq. On October 31 of this year 51 Iraqi Christians were gunned down by Muslim jihadists. Christians are being raped, shot, and crucified. Yet in spite of all the bloodshed, the U.S. State Department “did not name Iraq as a severe violater of religious liberty when it released its annual International Religious Freedom report Nov. 17.” (Ava Thomas, “Christian ‘hemorrhage’ increases in Iraq”; BP)

I have a hard time believing that oversight has nothing to do with the fact that our troops have been fighting most of the past decade for “freedom in Iraq.” To draw attention to the lack of freedom and protection for Christians in that country would at some level acknowledge failure in accomplishing the goal of freedom in Iraq.

Have our troops failed? No. I truly believe they have done the best they can do to help the Iraqi people. I just don’t think most of us realize how difficult it is to transition a country from a ruthless dictator to a free democratic nation, particularly in a Muslim dominated part of the world.

It’s a clash of worldviews. Democracy succeeds in a place where the Christian worldview provides the primary foundation for a country. I am not saying that a nation has to be full of Christians, but I am saying that Christian values provide the necessary framework for democracy to thrive. Driving the Christians out of the county is not the best way to establish a foundation for true freedom.

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