Bruce Chapman reports at AmSpec that Christians are widely persecuted around the world, and one of the prominent examples is the treatment of Coptic Christians in Egypt. Chapman says someone should do something about it. That’s right. Ah, but then he hypothesizes why people haven’t already done something about it:
One reason for neglect in Washington is probably the continuing secularization of the West. Political forces that demand that domestic religious organizations provide employees insurance for contraception, that Christmas manger scenes be banned from the town park and that graduating high school seniors not be allowed to invoke God in their valedictory addresses are not the kind of people who care much about Christian prisoners in the North Korean gulag or burning churches in Egypt.
Here’s the analogy behind Chapman’s explanation. Those who oppose mangers in town squares and compulsory prayer are like those who put Christians in gulags and burn churches — they sympathize with the oppressors. In Chapman’s eyes, secularism is religious oppression lite.
Chapman’s error is that those who oppose state-sanctioned religious displays do so precisely in the spirit of opposing oppression. Sure, it may feel like being oppressed when the state capitol doesn’t have a manger scene – you’re not getting complete control over the state. But that’s not oppression, that’s a reduction in your undeserved and disproportionate power.
And so the analogy isn’t just false, it’s entirely backwards — you get the kind of oppression of gulags and church burnings when you have a state that endorses only one kind of religious view. You see, the secularization of the West isn’t motivated by the desire to oppress the religious, but by the desire to reduce religious oppression.