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God's Politics

Tony Campolo This administration, struggling for some justification for a war that is generally acknowledged as a disaster, has claimed that we’re in this war in order to spread democracy. The president points to the election of a parliament and the choosing of a prime minister as evidence that this war has had at least a modicum of success in achieving that end. But it is just this claim that I want to challenge.

First of all, a democracy is a society in which people are free to make those decisions that determine their own destiny. Any honest appraisal of what is going on in Iraq would lead to the conclusion that this is not the case today. The most recent study indicates that more than 80% of Iraqi people want our troops to go home – but our leaders in Washington ignore the will of the Iraqi people. Their destiny is not in the hands of the people of that devastated country.

A second characteristic of a democracy is that it is a society wherein the government has made it safe to be in the minority. Rule by the vote of the majority is not enough. In Iraq the majority of voters have chosen to create a government that is an Islamic Republic that embraces Shia law. The consequences are disturbing! There is no doubt that in removing Saddam Hussein a dictator was driven from power, but ironically women had more freedom under his rule than they are achieving in this new so-called democracy. The parliament that the majority of voters have put in place is showing signs of increasing the oppression of women. This minority group will not be safe!

Another minority group that is no longer secure is Christians. During the rule of the tyrannical Hussein, strange as this might seem, they were protected both in practicing and in spreading their religion. While Christians still can have worship services, Shia law prevents them from evangelizing – a privilege they previously enjoyed.

A recent United Nations report stated that religious minorities in Iraq have become regular victims of persecution and harassment. Christian women are said to have had acid thrown in their faces. Some have been killed for wearing jeans or not wearing the veil. As many as 60,000 Christians, and perhaps more, have fled the country. The 1.4 million Christians in Iraq have been whittled down to about 700,000. So much for democracy.

In light of these observations, what do we say to the families who lost their loved ones, thinking that those deaths were for the sake of spreading democracy? And what do we say to the mother of the last soldier to die in a war that is, for most observers, an obvious mistake? Isn’t it time for Red Letter Christians to demand some answers to these questions?

P.S. In response to those who wanted the source of my claim in last month’s blog that a survey of several prominent evangelical leaders showed that they overwhelmingly supported the torture of prisoners – that source was Randall Balmer, a professor at Columbia University.

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