Secularist Ireland (and the broader west) has no time for persecution of Christians or other religions

It’s worth recapping on Tom Kelly’s column from the Irish News on Monday, asking if anyone cares about the fate of Christians and other religious minorities in the middle east

…for all our pretence to be a Christian country (not that our Christian practices always gives witness to that profession) we seem uninterested in the desperate plight of fellow Christians across the world. Western Christians like to huff and puff about their rights being under pressure from increased secularism but the truth is that no Christian in any European country is actually persecuted for their religious beliefs. And its time that faith based organisations fought the arguments based on the same type of respect and equality for others who disagree with them that they seek for themselves.

Across many parts of the world the story could not be more different. The great golden period of Islam when Islamic societies were models of religious tolerance and enlightenment in terms of culture, architecture, education and healthcare has long since been overshadowed by forced proselytisation, menacing fatwa’s and jihaddism.

In many countries, which experienced the short-lived “Arab Spring”, many leading writers have now described as being a ”Christian winter” for non-Muslim communities living in those places. Christians have been under real threat in countries like Tunisia, Syria, Egypt and Libya since the regime changes.

But in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan, Christian communities whose heritage stretches backs centuries live under active discrimination in law and civic life in these so called democracies!

The rise of ISIS (now known IS) under the leadership of this mad mullah, Abu Bakr-al Baghdadi is the stuff of nightmares for Christians in Syria, Iraq and the Levant. Christians communities living in these areas are given the option of “convert to Islam, pay a fine ($250 a month) to practice their faith or die.” Many are dying.

Some of their women are literally being rounded up and sold into slavery. Most disturbing of all are the stories of rapes; beheadings and ritual hangings made to look like crucifixions. Churches are being bulldozed and burned down. Over one hundred thousand Christians are currently seeking refuge in the semi autonomous region of Kurdistan.

Fifty thousand Chaldean Catholics who fled places like Mosul and Qaraqosh are living in the mountains now relying on humanitarian aid. It may be less trendy but it’s no less just to protest equitably about the fate of millions of beleaguered Christians as well as the Palestinians.

As it happens Damian Thompson wrote a penetrating piece in the Spectator a few weeks ago, which puts its finger on the confusion abroad in the secularised post Christian west

None of these developments shows religion in a good light. That’s partly because, when religion reasserts itself, it’s usually against a background of conflict. Is it to blame for that conflict?

The American economist Eli Berman points out the paradox that, in our time-hungry society, it’s the time-consuming strict varieties of Christianity, Judaism and Islam that are growing fastest.

Likewise Buddhism and Hinduism. Religions of total immersion create social bonds that sustain the disorientated. Unfortunately those bonds can also provide potent moral support for violence. Terrorist attacks by religious fanatics kill four times as many people per incident as those committed by political extremists.

The states where faith is reshaping politics tend to be those whose failure would be disastrous for the West. Yet — and this point can’t be stressed too often — our leaders know next to nothing about world religions, including those whose adherents have arrived on their doorstep. They’d better start learning, fast.

He adds in this associated conversation with Cristina Odone that “the young metropolitan elite who will be running the Western world in ten years time have no significant religious beliefs”.


  • Michael Henry

    Tom Kelly-

    ” The truth is that no Christian in any European country is actually persecuted for their Religious beliefs “-

    So Christian Catholics can become PrimeMinister at number ten and are allowed to marry the King or Queen of England- glad them laws were changed- lol-

  • mickfealty

    Nope. But we don’t face having to pay a tax as an alternative to forfeiting our own own lives and those of our children.

  • chrisjones2

    “Christian Catholics can become Prime Minister”

    Course they can.

    “are allowed to marry the King or Queen of England”

    Not yet. People still remember the number murdered by Bloody Mary but those days are now past and its time for a change

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Where does the ‘Queen of England’ hang out?

  • npbinni

    ‘The great golden period of Islam when Islamic societies were models of religious tolerance’

    That is, of course, if the adherent to a minor religion was willing to live with ‘dhimmitude’ status within Islam; basically, a second-class citizen. ‘Golden period’ seems a little over the top.

  • babyface finlayson

    I don’t think there is any law preventing a Roman Catholic Prime Minister. But it would be a stretch to call that persecution. Discrimination maybe.

  • Michael Henry

    God knows-she has a few Castles to hang out around the World-

  • Michael Henry

    Maybe when it is took up before the European court they will find that it is indeed a persecution-

  • babyface finlayson

    The sooner the better.I have high hopes for my daughter and Prince George.
    If it wasn’t for all this pesky persecution.

  • gendjinn

    “I have high hopes…”

    Bro, don’t bogart it, pass it around 😉

  • gendjinn

    Non-muslims in the caliphate were treated infinitely better than non-christians in christendom.

    How did Richard treat the muslims in Jerusalem compared to how Saladin treated christians?

    Peddle your bigotry elsewhere you are nothing but a mossad puppet promoting hatred, intolerance & bigotry. We’ve had enough of that shite and we won’t stand for anymore.

  • npbinni

    gendjinn, I actually agree with you – the first 2 pargraphs, anyway. 🙂

    I made a simple statement that living as a second-class citizen in a Muslim environment is not ‘golden’, but I suppose the term is relative. It may be considered ‘golden’ compared to some of the horrors inflicted on non-Catholics by the church of Rome in that era.

    I mentioned on another thread that the the Catholic Crusades were ostensibly to remove Muslims from Jerusalem, but along the way the crusaders slaughtered every Jewish community they came across.

    Facts are stubborn things, and the silly somewhat ludicrous comments in your 3rd paragraph reflect poorly on your basic lack of knowledge about some of these things.

  • mickfealty

    You come up with another post like that and it is curtains for you gendjinn. Genghis Ghan himself has a right to re-embody in order to post here, so long as he does not play the man.

    You have every right to fight back with an argument, but not to tell others what’s an acceptable argument here, and what’s not. Further persistence will be dealt with with extreme prejudice.

  • Turgon

    It is a bit depressing though unsurprising that on slugger a discussion about discrimination is reduced to who can and cannot marry into the Royal Family. On that aside it took very little time to change the law so that had George been a girl she would have been next in line to the throne. As such I have absolutely no doubt that should George decide to marry a Catholic the law could and would be changed just as quickly.

    On the substantive point the lack of understanding of the persecution of Christians and others is a serious problem.

    I have always felt that part of it is the way in which those in positions in power tend to be obsessed with political freedoms to the exclusion of practically everything else. I am not arguing that political freedom s not vital but it is only one freedom. Many non political people live their lives very happily in non politically free societies. I have known a number of Iraqis and all report that they hated Saddam’s regime but all said that what came after: the chaos, death, violence etc. was much worse.

    In Syria I know a number of Christian Syrians, an Alawite and a Druze family. All said that although they were not fans of Assad at the start of the revolution they all became much more in favour of his rule when the alternative took shape.

    The reality is that not ideal as the pre Arab spring rulers were they almost all guaranteed freedom of religion and were quite happy to persecute anyone who tried to prevent that. They also provided in varying degrees a certain degree of prosperity (often not good but better than the abject poverty and disasters in their wake) The overthrow of those regimes and new democratic systems allow freedom of voting but seem much weaker on the other freedoms which are also vital.

    The problem seems to be those in power in the west raise voting freedoms and freedom of political expression above all other freedoms. Hence, these create classic tyrannies of the majority.

  • Godfrey Johnson

    Tom Kelly wrote about the “great golden period of Islam when Islamic societies were models of religious tolerance…”

    Can anybody pinpoint this period for me? I can’t seem to find it in the history books. Was it during the weekend celebrations when Muhammad (p..s be upon him) married his second or third wife?

    I daresay the Hindus would be hard-pressed to locate it too, what with the mass slaughter perpetrated by Muhammad’s son and heirs, from Mecca eastwards. Likewise the north Africans, the Iberians, and . . . well, any society that Islam overran.

    The rule for the followers of Allah was, and is: “No infidels about the place. If you can’t convert them, kill them. Apostates from Islam? Die, you dogs.”

    The horrors of northern Iraq therefore did not surprise me. It’s jihad, plain and simple. God’s work being carried out. Business as usual, but this time with better weapons and under the scrutiny of worldwide media.

    Mr. Kelly also wrote: “Western Christians like to huff and puff about their rights being under pressure from increased secularism but the truth is that no Christian in any European country is actually persecuted for their religious beliefs.”

    He’s right. Despite the howls of “Persecution, persecution!” Christians in Europe (and America and Australasia) are not being persecuted. All that’s under threat from secularism is the HEGEMONY that Christianity has long enjoyed in civil society.

    In short, Christians, show us why you believe you deserve special privileges and we’ll consider your arguments. That goes for all god-botherers BTW.

  • GordonHide

    If the West were to complain more stridently about religious persecution abroad without the intention of taking military action against offenders it would merely make the situation worse for those suffering persecution in my view.
    I agree that given the international situation for religious minorities it’s affront for religious minorities in the West to describe themselves as persecuted.
    All the West can do is open the gates further for persecuted religious minority immigration. Please raise your hands all in favour.

  • Reader

    As Babyface finlayson said, a Catholic could become PM. (ask Portillo or Duncan Smith, who both manoeuvred for the job). A Catholic could also marry the Queen (or King), though their *partner* would then lose their job. I’m not sure that Elizabeth would go to the ECHR though, as I suspect she wants to retire anyway.

  • Michael Henry

    Noticed you forgot to name a UK Catholic PrimeMinister-were there any- just one even-Blair does not count has he changed his Religion after he left number ten- although his wife joined the Catholic faith whilst Tony was PM-( a wee snub to Queenie )-

  • Mister_Joe

    Yes and, of course, don’t mention the (Spanish) Inquisition. The horrors that have been committed ostensibly on behalf of various religions worldwide are too numerous to mention. Regarding my use of “ostensibly”, follow the money as someone said.

  • Reader

    Are you saying that a Catholic can’t become PM, or just that one hasn’t so far? There hasn’t been a Protestant Taoiseach yet, either.

  • TruthFinder

    The whole thread is odd. Yesterday we just had thousands of republicans turn up at the funeral of Tony Catney who committed the unrepentant murder in cold blood of a 17 year old Protestant, Maurice Knowles. The priest even praised Tony as a man who had fought for ‘justice for everyone’.

    I have two questions:

    (1) Why are Slugger (and the wider media) attacking Pastor James McConnell for refusing to recognise sodomites as a family (a position every country in the world held legally until the year 2000) yet a man who actually murders an innocent Protestant is praised for his actions by a priest and nothing is said?
    (2) Why does so-called secularist Ireland have no concern for Protestant lives (consistent ambiguity on this for 4 centuries)?

  • mickfealty

    With my editor hat on, I can answer that fairly easily. We don’t have anyone on the blogger books (nearly 100 souls), who’ve been inclined to write a blog on that particular question. It’s a perfectly legitimate point though, and feeds well into the theme outlined above (which we did raise).

    But my door is always open to new talent

    On that larger theme above, I would say we have had people lining up to accuse the international community of ignoring this thing or that thing. My own personal feeling is that the inattention arises from genuine confusion on the part of the big political and media players. A lot of mistakes have been made in the last ten/12 years, not to mention mistakes on mistakes.

    In the middle east in particular there has been a huge reliance on big power to keep tension and disagreements under wraps. Now that particular sets of national/state oppression have been released it has given rise to an altogether more unpredictable revolutionary outbreak of la Terreur.

  • TruthFinder

    Catholics cannot be head of the British State as he or she is head of the Anglican Protestant Church and Defender of the Faith (i.e.. Protestant Faith)

    Under the same logic, I wonder when Protestants can assume the head of the Vatican State? We have seen the feeding frenzy in the sectarian southern state of the appointment of a Protestant Irish politician to the culture post.