Thursday, December 27, 2012


Silently, almost beneath notice in the West, Christianity is being extirpated in much of the world. An article on a report by Ruppert Shortt published in Civitas gives some details:
The report surveys in detail the extent of Christian persecution in seven countries – Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, Burma, China and India. And it cites findings from the Freedom House think-tank report to highlight the way that Muslim-majority countries are the most hostile to Christians.

Christianity is in serious danger of being wiped out in its biblical heartlands because of Islamic oppression, according to a new report from a leading independent think-tank. But Western politicians and media largely ignore the widespread persecution of Christians in the Middle East and the wider world because they are afraid they will be accused of racism. They fail to appreciate that in the defence of the wider concept of human rights, religious freedom is the “canary in the mine”, according to the report.

The refusal of young Christians in the West to become “radicalised” and mount violent protests against the attacks on their faith also helps to explain the “blind spot” about “Christianophobia” in influential liberal Western circles.
Intolerant Muslims and atheistic communists are waging war against Christian communities throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Asia:
Mr Shortt quotes expert findings that between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have left or been killed over the past century. The pace of this assault is now intensifying with the rise of militant Islam in countries such as Egypt, Iraq and now, with the civil war, Syria.

Across the world as a whole, some 200 million Christians (10 per cent of the total) are socially disadvantaged, harassed or actively oppressed for their beliefs.

They [Muslims]impose the greatest curbs on religious freedoms and make up 12 of the 20 countries judged to be “unfree” on the grounds of religious tolerance. Of the seven states receiving the lowest possible score, four are Muslim.

Iraq has also witnessed the decimation of its Christian community amid frequent bombings, shootings, beheadings and kidnappings, especially since the invasion of 2003. In 1990 there were between 1.2 to 1.4 million Christians in Iraq. By 2003, there were only around half a million. Today there are less than 200,000.
Christians are also under assault in non-Muslim countries. Mr Shortt points out that more Christians are imprisoned in China than in any other country in the world. It is estimated that almost 2000 members of house churches were arrested during the 12 months after May 2004 alone.
The author concludes that it took Christian societies many centuries to evolve a tradition of tolerance towards other faiths. He expresses the hope that Islam might eventually reach the same destination.
In other words, whereas Christian nations realized centuries ago that religious freedom and toleration are far more amenable to social and political well-being than sectarian violence, and, whereas this emphasis on freedom and toleration led to enlightenment, science, and technological advance, Muslims and atheistic communists prefer still to live in the dark ages of intellectual and spiritual barbarism.

There's more on the persecution Christians are facing in much of the world today at the link.

Collapse of the Pro-Choice Movement?

Jon Shields, a professor of government at Claremont College, argues in First Things that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that removed abortion from the realm of democratic judgment by the citizenry and elevated it, implausibly, to the status of a constitutional right, has actually precipitated the demise of the pro-choice movement.

Perhaps he's right, but whether he is or isn't he does make an interesting argument. Here's the crux of it:
Roe v. Wade did far more than create a constitutional right to abortion—it crippled the pro-choice and energized the pro-life movement, creating one of the largest campaigns of moral suasion in American history. Even while nationalizing abortion politics, the Supreme Court’s decision also localized and personalized the issue by pushing it almost entirely out of legislatures, giving an unexpected opening to the pro-life movement to affect the culture, and in turn the wider political debate, in ways no one expected.

Before Roe, the pro-choice movement was truly a movement: It organized letter-writing campaigns, subverted restrictive abortion laws through underground networks of clergy and doctors, and eagerly sought opportunities to debate pro-life advocates. After Roe, obviated by its near-total victory, the movement almost collapsed. It has never fully recovered its former strength and energy.

The impressive efforts of pro-life citizens suggest that Roe did not render them powerless, as both liberals and conservatives sometimes assert. Yes, Roe effectively disenfranchised pro-life citizens by denying them the right to vote over the basic contours of abortion policy. But it also decimated the pro-choice movement and cleared the way for a massive campaign of moral suasion. Much like women in the nineteenth century, pro-life activists have found ways to shape our culture and politics without the franchise.

Skeptics might reasonably question the influence of the pro-life movement, especially since abortion opinion has hardly changed since Roe was decided. That fact alone, however, may indicate the power — not the weakness — of the pro-life movement.

While the country has become far more socially liberal on a large range of questions since Roe, abortion opinion has remained a strange outlier. In fact, pro-choice sentiment stopped increasing after Roe altogether, even though it had grown dramatically in years prior. Roe represented an end to the rapid liberalization of abortion attitudes, perhaps in part because of the utter collapse of the pro-choice movement. Recent surveys find that young Americans are less pro-choice than their elders, even though they are more secular and more likely to support same-sex marriage.

Abortion rates, meanwhile, have steadily declined by nearly a third since peaking in the early 1980s. Those rates would almost certainly have been higher absent the pro-life movement’s massive campaign of moral suasion.
I, for one, hope Shields is correct, but I wonder. Abortion rates may be down by a third from their peak, but that still means that there are a million unborn babies whose lives are snuffed out every year. That doesn't sound like most people's idea of winning.