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Christianity More Democratic Straight To The Point

Sunday 01, December-2002

by John Blackman

The rising death toll and other casualties in Nigeria have brought to the fore again how deeply divisive religious differences can be.

When the organisers of the Miss World Pageant decided to bring this global extravaganza to Nigeria, they no doubt had good intentions. The last thing they had in mind was religious riots.

It was the first time for the competition in a black third world country. But the event was not received with open arms in this predominately Muslim nation since part of the competition consisted of women parading in swimwear in public. In fact, the Muslim community warned that it was going to disrupt the competition.

It all started when a newspaper chided the Muslims for their opposition to the contest. It went on to add that the prophet Mohammed would not only have sanctioned the show, but that he also might have married one of the contestants. This was too much for the Muslims to handle, and they erupted.

What would have been the response in a Christian country if a Muslim person or newspaper had made similar statements about Jesus Christ?

Of course, Christians would be enraged, but their protests might have been much more subdued. There would be plenty verbal overflow, but one doubts if it would come to physical attacks and certainly not loss of life.

Over the years, I have noticed a marked similarity between Christianity and democracy. They both advocate a degree of freedom which is not reciprocated by their competitors. In a Christian country, other religions are usually free to carry on their worship.

In like manner, a democratic country allows other forms of association, for example, a communist party to function. In both, the choice is the individual’s and not the state’s.

The United States is a typical example. The lone superpower is the greatest democracy in the world and was founded upon Christian principles.

The American constitution guarantees freedom of worship and association for all its citizens. Thus coexisting with Christianity are religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and the Bahai.

However, as time marched on these faiths demanded equality of participation in the affairs of the nation. Christianity retreated and surrendered some of its advantages including use of The Bible and prayers as part of the daily life of the school. No Islamic country would take The Koran out of its educational system in order to accommodate Christianity. The same can be said for the other faiths already mentioned. Only the Christian democratic countries permit such freedoms.

A few months ago I heard an American evangelist commenting on the removal of The Bible from the school. He said if a teacher has an affair with a student he is cautioned or suspended, but if he reads the Bible in class he is fired. Reading The Bible is now considered worse than immorality.

The Reverend Franklin Graham, son of prominent preacher Dr Billy Graham, prayed at the inauguration ceremony for President George Bush. In his invocation he “caused great stir on Capitol Hill because he had excluded millions of Americans by using the name of Jesus.” During the investigation which followed, he was asked inter alia:

Was he paid for his services?

Did any one tell him what to say?

Who paid for his hotel accommodation and transportation to and from the ceremony?

And this is a country which still has “In God We Trust” printed on its currency notes. Only in democratic predominately Christian countries does one encounter massacres like Jim Jones (Guyana) 1978 where 912 followers perished, and David Koresh (Waco, Texas) 1993 with another 74 fatalities.

Those who perished believed that Jones and Koresh were Christ. Any Muslim who claims to be the prophet Mohammed would be executed.

In 1988, a Muslim Salman Rashdie published the Satanic Verses, which some saw as an attack on Islam. Immediately he was ostracised by the Muslim community, and the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran pronounced the death sentence on him. He survived because he went into hiding. Had he dared to publish it in a Muslim country he would have been executed long before it reached the printers.

On the contrary, in a Christian society anyone could write whatever he likes about Christ, and suffer no consequences. In fact, if Rashdie had written about Christ instead of Mohammed he might even have been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for literature.

In 1990, a Muslim Abu Bakr attempted a coup in Trinidad. One person was killed and the President ANR Robinson was shot. But, in spite of all this Bakr is still alive and a free man. Had he done this in a Muslim country he would have been resting in peace.

I am a Christian and whole heartedly support democracy. However, at times I opine that by extending concessions which are not reciprocated by the other faiths, both Christianity and democracy could become their own worst enemy.

Has Christianity married democracy?

©Copyright 2002, Barbados Daily Nation (Barbados)


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