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Secular democracy?

Reader comment on item: A Christian Boom

Submitted by Steve Hedley (United Kingdom), Nov 28, 2002 at 10:17

In previous articles, Dr Pipes has proposed that only moderate Islam, operating within a democratic structure, is the way forward for nations that are currently Islamic theocracies (or threatened by terrorists who want to impose theocracy). I fully support this....

Regardless of their theology or political outlook, if certain religious groups start influencing the direction of a nation's policy then a democratic state comes perilously close to theocracy. If one religious group achieves political dominance, then other believers (and unbelievers) will naturally feel threatened. The very idea that a church could marshall its worshippers into a political force is profoundly anti-democratic.

Specific problems with the "Southern" Christians include their apocalyptic interpretation of Christianity (which others might call heretical). Driven by the belief that the End will arrive soon, these Christian fundamentalists often interpret current events in the light of Revelations and Daniel's prophecies. If these apocalyptic beliefs have the potential to determine governmental policy, they become extremely dangerous.

Partly because of this eschatology, Southern Christian groups have become strong supporters of Israel, because they see the Israeli state as the fulfilment of certain prophecies. Hence some Jewish commentators have given reciprocal messages of support for these Christians.

However, I think such marriages of convenience will break down when the Christian groups conclude the End is not so close and that Israel has its own agenda. Then the old idea of converting the Jews will appear once again. Quite possibly, the Christian fundamentalists will rediscover their historic anti-Semitism when it suits them to do so.

Within a secular democracy, a variety of religious viewpoints may be expressed and argued; Southern Christians are no more favoured than Northern liberals or Catholics, or Jews or Hindus.

However, a state run by apocalyptic Christians is another matter altogether. It would not be so far removed from Al-Qaeda's ideal of replacing secular government with a Caliphate directed by revelation. Minority religions (or alternative versions of Christianity) would have lesser status. If Jews were no longer favoured allies of the Christian right, where would that leave them?
Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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