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The Confederate Lawyer
April 15, 2011

Democracy or Religious Liberty?
by Charles G. Mills
fitzgerald griffin foundation

GLEN COVE, NY — A prominent neo-con recently told me that he hoped the loss of religious liberty is not the price we have to pay to bring democracy to North Africa and the Middle East. Of course, he has it backwards. If we have to lose one of these, it is better to lose democracy than to lose religious liberty. Unfortunately, the neo-cons and the Obama State Department are fully ready to accept the persecution of Christians in order to establish democracy in that part of the world.

Democracy is a flexible word applied to almost every government in the world, but it usually means the election of at least part of the government, the right to campaign for office, and the right to receive political information from all sources.

Freedom is different from democracy. It includes the right to worship God according to one’s rationally formed conscience; the right to express and publish opinions; the right not to be punished without a fair trial; the right to own and use property in any way that does not harm one’s neighbors; the right not to be unjustly killed, imprisoned, or deprived of property; the right to make and enforce contracts; and the right to know what the laws are.

The right to worship God is listed first because it is the greatest of rights since it affects us eternally, while the other rights usually affect us only in this life. For the same reason, religious liberty is much more important than democracy. Furthermore, God is the source of our rights, and prohibiting worship of him endangers all other rights.

A majority of Moslems in the world believes that death is the appropriate penalty for conversing to another religion from Islam and for insulting Islam. It follows that Moslem democracies will reflect the highly intolerant opinions of their citizens toward Christians, Hindus, Jews, Zoroastrians, and other religions. This is indeed what is happening.

In Syria, citizens are protesting its authoritarian government. Syria has one of the most ancient Christian communities in the world. Syrian Christians are afraid that if the present government is overthrown, they will be at the mercy of radical Moslems intent on persecuting them.

In Iraq, which is establishing a democracy, the Christian and Jewish populations are rapidly fleeing the country.

In Iran, when the United States helped to overthrew the monarchy, the fanatical Moslems got what they wanted -- government by a fanatical clergy. Huge numbers of Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians have been driven out of the country.

In Egypt, the Army is in charge and no official persecution has yet been launched. Egypt has a variety of large Christian communities. For several years, Egyptian Moslems have agitated for a more Islamic government. Many observers believe that if Egypt holds elections too soon, the Moslem Brotherhood will be swept into power. Egypt could become a copy of Sudan.

There is no significant religious persecution in Khadafy’s Libya, but we delude ourselves if we think that the fanatical Moslems fighting against Khadafy will not persecute Christians.

Even in Turkey, Moslem extremists are scoring electoral victories.

The world is better off with Saddam dead and would be better off with Khadafy dead. But none of this is true if the price is the extinction of the right to practice Christianity from Morocco to Pakistan and the empowerment of the Wahabi, Taliban, and other enemies of Christian freedom. Yet the neo-cons and the Obama State Department seem to be advancing just such an extermination.

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The Confederate Lawyer column is copyright © 2011 by Charles G. Mills and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfBooks.com. All rights reserved.

Charles G. Mills is the Judge Advocate or general counsel for the New York State American Legion. He has forty years of experience in many trial and appellate courts and has published several articles about the law.

See his biographical sketch and additional columns here.

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