If one gives credence to the likes of CAIR, Muslims in this country are on the verge of persecution, as evidenced by a Fox television program which depicts — gasp! — Muslim terrorists. One presumes that a more realistic portrayal would have the typical terrorist be a neo-Nazi born-again Christian skinhead, or something similar.
In other parts of the world, however, millions of people suffer from more tangible forms of religious persecution, and those persecuted are most likely Christians. Consider the “stans”, the former Soviet Socialist Republics of Central Asia. Under Communism, religious persecution was egalitarian: all believers were discriminated against equally. But with the departure of the commissars, the Muslim majority is free to exert its strength in the authoritarian states left behind.
Persecution News reported in 2003 on events in Uzbekistan:
|Pentecostals in Muinak, 200 kilometres north of Nukus, the capital of Uzbekistan’s western region of Karakalpakstan, fear that two church members, Kuralbai Asanbayev and Rashid Keulimjayev, may again face punishment for meeting together as Christians. According to Forum 18 News Service, Asanbayev’s home was raided on March 6 and both men were forced to make a statement to police. When the two were previously arrested in December, they were tortured and sentenced to five days in prison. At the time, the hakim (chief of the district), Jarylkan Tursynbekov, said that even if the church managed to get the 100 signatures needed to register, they would not allow a Protestant church in Muinak.|
|Protestant Christians in particular have been facing increasing pressure in this country where Islam is the main religion. Church registration is required, but is often refused, forcing Christians to worship in secret. Even in registered churches, “turning believers from one confession to another” and missionary activity are illegal. Meetings are not allowed outside of the regular church building. Pastor Obyedkov of Yangiyul, 30 kilometres south of Tashkent narrowly escaped charges recently for a meeting in the home of a church member. Obyedkov is the pastor of a registered Baptist church.|
More recently, ASSIST News Service has reported:
|In a continuing anti-Christian campaign in the Karakalpakstan [Qoraqalpoghiston] autonomous republic in north-western Uzbekistan, a Protestant final year medical student, Ilkas Aldungarov, has been expelled from the Nukus branch of the Tashkent Paediatric Medical Institute, because he belongs to a Protestant church, the Church of Christ, Forum 18 News Service has learnt. The expulsion took place at the end of November and a Tashkent Protestant who preferred not to be named stressed to Forum 18 that, although formally Aldungarov was expelled on grounds of academic failure, in reality he was expelled for his religious beliefs.|
|Iklas Aldungarov and other Protestants have been targeted before by the authorities. In April 2004, Nukus city prosecutor M. Arzymbetov tried to have him expelled as he belonged to what Arzymbetiove called ” an illegal religious sect.” The Prosecutors Office also summoned 11 members of the same church for questioning, where they were pressured to renounce their faith and convert to Islam, and threatened with being shot (see F18 News 21 April 2004)|
Contemplate for a moment the ominous phrase: an illegal religious sect. CAIR has yet to face such conditions in this country, unless one counts the shutting down of the Islamist “charities” that funnel money to al-Qaeda and Hamas.
The ANS article goes on to say,
|Two of the students – Aliya Sherimbetova and Shirin Artykbayeva – were expelled in September for being Christians and were told that they were also expelled because their case had been published “on the internet”, possibly a reference to Forum 18’s coverage (see F18 News, 16 September 2004).|
So publicizing the plight of Christians in Uzbekistan in the Western media makes stepped-up persecution more likely.
Human Rights Without Frontiers reported:
|The police periodically enter the homes of local Protestants, take them to the police station and subject them to beatings. For example, on 17 December last year the police raided the home of local Protestant Kuralbai Asanbayev, who was being visited at the time by fellow-believer Rashid Keulimjayev. They were both detained at the police station where they were beaten and tortured, with police officers putting gas masks on them and closing off the air supply. The hakim said that even if the Protestants did manage to collect the 100 signatures required for registration, they would still not be allowed to establish a Protestant church in Muinak.|
Note that in Uzbekistan, 100 signatures on a petition are required before the government will permit the establishment of a church.
No wonder people come to America.
In this country the established religion is, of course, Orthodox Secularism, but Christians face no persecution by the authorities. The Christian religion is vital and confident, exercising its ministry here and abroad.
However, there are discouraging signs that a “religious test” may soon be applied to those who would hold public office. Witness the ordeal of Bill Pryor at the hands of the Senate Judiciary Committee. His Catholic faith was held by some of the Democrats on the committee to put him outside the mainstream and make him unfit for public office. We are approaching the point where sincere religious faith is enough to have a public officeholder branded a “theocrat” by the mainstream media.
The Orthodox Secularists who create this new atmosphere do not intend to do the journeywork of the Islamists; in fact, just the opposite is true: they are as adamant in their opposition to Islamic intolerance as anybody else.
But make no mistake about it: the deliberate and systematic undermining of public Christianity creates a spiritual void in our civic life, and works in a kind of synergy with the Islamist goals. One only has to look at “Eurabia” to see what happens when Christianity is debilitated and the post-Christian polities emerge.
When religious belief is routinely trashed and denigrated and mocked and belittled, a kind of spiritual enervation takes hold of the body politic, leaving it empty at the center and ripe for appropriation by those whose zeal is strong and pure and unyielding.
Watch for it in Europe, and fear for it here.