Rand Paul Tells Christians To Fight Global Persecution

Rand Paul Tells Christians To Fight Global Persecution

When asked why Christians don’t care more about global religious persecution, religious liberty scholar Timothy Shah becomes nearly apoplectic, calling their lack of engagement on the issue “appalling.” “It is beyond outrageous that we don’t have a much greater mobilization on the part of  Christians in this country about religious liberty. Setting aside the challenges in this country, we live in a world of the most grotesque, outrageous and escalating religious persecution. There is no outrage about this,” says the associate director of the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University. “What on earth is going on? What worse forms of persecution would have to happen.

Citing  recent attacks on Christians in Egypt, Kenya, India, Sri Lanka and Tanzania — a country the State Department has highlighted as a model of religious tolerance despite this year’s beheading of a Pentecostal pastor and assassination of a Roman Catholic priest — Shah wonders why these publicly known attacks provoke no response. “Who is going to do something about it?” he asks.

Shah spoke on religious liberty concerns at an Oct. 10 panel discussion in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, also on the panel, suggested that it’s difficult for Christians to know exactly how to respond to the global persecution of Christians.

“There is a slight tension in certain ways between the desire to be champions of a completely ecumenical religious liberty at home and the way that people I think naturally think about the persecution of Christians overseas. Most of the persecution you’re describing is happening along the fault line of Christianity and Islam — and so in certain ways the most natural way that American Christians and Western Christians relate to that is not by thinking of it in terms of the somewhat abstract value of religious liberty but thinking of it in terms of the 1400-year-old conflict between Christianity and Islam,” he said. “If you’re sort of an ordinary middle class Christian, your contact with that far-off fault line is maybe through the mosque that’s being built in your town.”

So it’s not that Christians don’t care about the persecution of Christians by Islamists so much as that they aren’t presented with many opportunities to effectively engage the conflict. Rather than join the fray in Kenya, they might fight the Ground Zero mosque.

Or as Douthat put it: “You decide the way to express your solidarity with Christians in Tanzania is to vote for a misguided anti-Sharia bill in your home state.”

Breaking: Christians Highly Focused on Religious Liberty

The day after the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission panel discussion, the 2013 Values Voter Summit, an annual political conference for social conservatives, kicked off. The three-day conference includes a Straw Poll. Most reporters, fascinated with horse race political coverage, focused on the candidate election results. (Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, won in a landslide.) But perhaps they also should have paid attention to what attendees listed as their top three issues of concern:

1) Protecting religious liberty

2) Supporting pro-life policies

3) Repealing Obamacare

Social conservatives have been involved in the pro-life movement for decades. And Obamacare isn’t just unpopular among social conservatives, but the country at large. But religious liberty at the top? Last year’s poll — an unscientific query of attendees in a multiple-choice format — had opposition to abortion receiving more than 40 percent of attendees’ votes as the most important issue of concern while religious liberty garnered only 18 percent of the vote.

Undoubtedly much of these social conservatives’ concern is domestic. The Obama administration is being sued by everyone from Wheaton College to the Little Sisters of the Poor over its Health and Human Services’ dictate that they’re not religious enough to avoid providing insurance plans that cover — at no cost to the employee — contraception, abortifacients and sterilization. In fact, there are some 74 cases and over 200 plaintiffs representing hospitals, universities, businesses and schools involved in that key religious liberty battle. And religious liberty and gay rights are on something of a collision course for small business owners and government employees whose religious beliefs hold that sexual complementarity is a key component of marriage.

But as the recent public reaction to Obama’s proposal to bomb Syria on behalf of rebels showed, American Christians are increasingly concerned about global religious persecution as well. This marked a key turning point for conservative Christians. American foreign policy in the George W. Bush era was made by a president closely affiliated with evangelical Christianity. The thrust of his agenda was that the United States should work to democratize the Middle East.

READ ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE: http://thefederalist.com/2013/10/14/rand-paul-encourages-christians-fight-global-persecution/

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