Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A Nation Where Non-Christians Know Their Place

Thanks to Michelle Goldberg, author of the essay "How the Secular Humanist Grinch Didn't Steal Christmas" in Salon Magazine for her blog today on "Anti-Semitism and the Christian Warriors" at Talk to Action. These paragraphs reminded me why colonial Baptists and most Baptists through history, until 1979, insisted on having full religious liberty and not merely toleration:

On November 17th, as the invaluable website Media Matters documented, Fox News anchor Gibson, author of "The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought," appeared on Christian radio host Janet Parshall's show. (Parshall, incidentally, is the host of the hagiographic documentary "George W. Bush: Faith in the White House" and, under Bush, has been an American delegate to the United Nations). People who follow the "wrong religion," said Gibson, "We know who they're going to have to answer to." But in the meantime, he said, "[A]s long as they're civil and behave, we tolerate the presence of other religions around us without causing trouble, and I think most Americans are fine with that tradition."

In fact, this sounds more like dhimmi tradition than the American one, in which Jews and Christians in Muslim countries were allowed to practice their religion as long as they submitted to their Islamic rulers and recognized their subservient status. That's the version of tolerance many on the Christian right seem to be espousing lately. Non-Christians don't have to convert, they just have to know their place.

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