- The Washington Times - Friday, April 7, 2006

Great. Afghanistan’s most well-known former resident Christian, Abdul Rahman, has at least temporarily escaped a headless fate and now can look forward to spending the rest of his life looking over his shoulder.

Perhaps no incident discredits the legitimacy and civility of militant Islam, and illustrates the dangers of its spread, more than Mr. Rahman’s threatened execution under the country’s laws against conversion. His treatment in the fanatical Muslim world should outrage Westerners. But who got stirred up instead on American soil over ill treatment and perceived injustices? It’s the Latinos, who protested legislation that would impose stricter enforcement of immigration laws.

Meanwhile native freedom-lovers can’t muster enough energy to congregate on Mr. Rahman’s behalf. While he melds into hopeful anonymity, perhaps in Italy’s culture, clerics and imams will continue issuing death threats not only against those who convert away from Islam but against those who draw cartoons about it. Mr. Rahman will have to live in fear the rest of his life because he believes in Jesus. And now because they succeeded in running him out of Afghanistan, Muslim radicals are emboldened to further pursue their warped enforcement of ideological purity.

Why are Christian priorities repeatedly askew and inconsistent? Last year their complaints were about the de-deification of Christmas, with believers chastising retailers for advertising “holiday trees” and for conveying “Season’s Greetings.” Last week the cry went out over the “War on Christians,” when evangelicals gathered in Washington for a two-day conference to discuss battlefronts, beachheads and alleged persecution.

Among Christendom’s latest sufferings at the hands of its cultural enemies, according to conference participants, was the banning from a municipal art show in Deltona, Fla., of an artist whose work featured religious themes. There were also the warnings about removal of Bible quotes and Christian symbols from government logos and buildings, and the requisite citations of scorn against Christians from the Ted Turner types.

“It doesn’t rise to the level of persecution that we would see in China or North Korea,” said Tristan Emmanuel, a Canadian activist at the conference, to The Washington Post. “But let’s not pretend that it’s OK.”

It would be nice if Christians en masse got at least as visibly upset over the threats toward Mr. Rahman and other Third World believers. After all, Muslim leaders threatened to incite people to “pull him into pieces” if the Afghan government freed him. Alleged moderate cleric Abdul Raoulf said, “Cut off his head.” He added Mr. Rahman could survive only in exile.

Another cleric, Said Mirhossain Nasri, told the West thanks for helping but to “butt out” in Mr. Rahman’s case.

“We are a small country and we welcome the help the outside world is giving us. But please don’t interfere in this issue,” he said. “We are Muslims and these are our beliefs. This is much more important to us than all the aid the world has given us.”

So, after we’ve seen spirited Muslim demonstrations over Danish cartoons and flushing Korans, what does it take to get Christians bouncing and burning for the cameras in Mr. Rahman’s case? Perhaps a display of some painter’s biblical work at the next Kabul Art Festival would work them up, after said artist is hanged and his corpse is burned.

Actually, though, the anesthetization of American Christianity is probably nearly complete. Even though Islam threatens their way of life by exporting terror and killing infidels, most Christians are focused elsewhere. They pour millions of dollars into finding “Your Best Life Now” with the help of positivist pulpiteer Joel Osteen, whose non-Gospel motto is to “discover the champion in you.” And his fans are poised to unload more of their dough for Mr. Osteen’s next Quallofil collection of musings. Somehow I don’t think Mr. Osteen’s “finding strength through adversity” and “choosing to be happy” elixir will stifle the radical Islamic world’s domination virus.

Nor are the more civically aware followers of Jesus, who are zeroed in on things like school prayer and abstinence education. Worthy goals, but more so are the rights to keep your limbs intact and to breathe the fresh air of freedom. You might want to let the world know.

Paul Chesser is an associate editor for the John Locke Foundation.

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