Archive - September 23, 2014

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Gloomy Prediction for Iraqi Christians in WaPo
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Do Human Rights Mix With Religion?

Gloomy Prediction for Iraqi Christians in WaPo

Christianity is finished in northern Iraq, argues Daniel Williams in an op-ed in the Washington Post today.  Williams is not writing for a church or a Christian advocacy outfit; rather he is a correspondent for the Post and a former research at Human Rights Watch.  The decimation of the Christian community that began when Saddam Hussein fell in 2003 has now accelerated.  The iciest part of his analysis: They are not going back.

He writes:

Indeed, the exodus of Christians is ongoing. Has anyone noticed that the Christian population of Iraq has shrunk from more than 1 million in 2003 to maybe 300,000 today? Now, there are virtually no Christians left in either Mosul or on the plain.

So when I ask refugees their plans, it is unanimously to leave Iraq altogether. Enough is enough. This runs counter to the desire, expressed mostly outside Iraq, that a Christian presence be preserved in a land that has known Christianity for 2,000 years. It’s sad but true: Christianity in Iraq is finished. As one refugee told me, “We wanted Iraq. Iraq doesn’t want us.”

And:

Western countries ought to come together and offer refuge to the tens of thousands who want to leave Iraq.  Yes, this would mean the end of Christianity in this part of the world, where its presence has often served as a bulwark against fanaticism. But it’s over anyway, whatever happens to the Islamic State. It’s time to face that fact and save the Christians themselves.

 

 

 

Do Human Rights Mix With Religion?

Resonant with the themes of Arc of the Universe is a conversation worth reading over at Open Global Rights on religion and human rights.  Today’s human rights advocates — activists, academics — commonly believe that religion is an impediment to human rights.  They  believe that human rights were a modern, Enlightenment-era invention that replaced religion, which was hierarchical, feudal, and irrational.

The series, edited by James Ron, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota, challenges this view — and does not.  It begins with a post by Larry Cox, who makes the case that religion, though some times in tension with human rights, also bolsters human rights.  Others come back and defend the conventional contemporary view — that religion is in tension with human rights, leading to exclusion and even persecution.

My own post argues that it is difficult to make a strong defense of human rights without God.  Human rights activists may be perfectly committed to their cause even without believing in God.  If you want to know why there are human rights, though, you can’t get far without God.

It is true, though, that secular and religious people often offer different accounts for why there are human rights, which human rights are valid or deserve priority, and who is entitled to human rights.  Rather than religion vs. human rights, I think it would be better to speak of “clashing visions of human rights” or “competing orthodoxies.”  A more accurate and honest debate would ensue.

 

© Daniel Philpott The views expressed in this forum are those of the individual contributors and do not necessarily represent those of Daniel Philpott, CCHR, or the University of Notre Dame.