CHRISTIANITY = OPPRESSION?
I put up this post on Dissecting Leftism recently:
IS CHRISTIANITY ILLIBERAL?
I wrote recently on this blog: "American Christians think that Christianity is the main source of the high level of respect for individual liberties "
A US reader wrote to me in reply:
What? Individual freedom and Christianity don't even deserve to be in the same sentence together! Christians are all about oppression .... in every way. There are so many examples ... a book could be written on that topic!
It’s not my fight. Would any of my Christian readers care to reply?
One of my US Christian readers has responded:
Ok, I'll take a stab at a defense, although I'm probably going to miss some stuff.
First, it is absolutely ludicrous to state that "Christians are all about oppression .... in every way". Your reader is no doubt thinking back on the history of the *Catholic* church, which does in fact have a deplorable record on general human liberties. But to tar 'Christianity' with the same brush is like saying "Americans are cannibals - look at Jeffrey Dahmer and William Coyne (real-life Hannibal Lecter)"
The best, most recent example of the true Christian attitude towards civil liberty is the United States and its' founding documents - The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and The Bill of Rights. These documents, created by and with the input of Christian descendants of those who fled from religious persecution in Europe, still define today the government which gives the highest, even sacred, priority to individual liberty "endowed by (the) Creator".
I would ask what government, under which philosophy, religion or belief system, currently grants more freedom to more people? Muslim countries like Malaysia, Egypt, Iran or Pakistan? Communist (atheistic) countries like Vietnam, North Korea or China? Socialist (humanistic) countries like Sweden, Canada, France or Germany, with their crushing tax burdens and rampant regulatory environment? Or maybe animist, pagan dictatorships that still allow slavery like in Niger and Sudan?
No, it is the secular government of America, founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs, where individual liberty is most prevalent and widespread. Thousands seek to come here, often at great personal risk, every month from China, Vietnam, Mexico, Cuba and South America. That is because they have a "yearning to breathe free" and they know that here, they can.
I would also point out Christian principles, as taught by Jesus himself, urge true Christians to not only tolerance but to mercy and forgiveness for *all* mankind - "I say unto you, love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you" (Matt 5:44) and Paul urged Christians "If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink" (Rom 12:20). This is in sharp contrast to religious writings that urge followers to kill all who don't believe as they do and to treat females as second-class people.
So, I'd say that your original statement, "Christianity is the main source of the high level of respect for individual liberties" is right on the money. Christianity, as practiced by imperfect men, is far from perfect but, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, it's better than any other alternative.