Religious FreedomWe just got done lighting the Chanukah candles at my house. Tonight is the fifth night of Chanukah. Today is also Christmas, so I'd like to wish Christians everywhere a Merry Christmas. Earlier today, we indulged in our yearly Christmas tradition. We went to a movie and then got some Chinese food from our local carry out. The food was good, the movie was awful. We went to see the Spirit. In spite of the cleavage provided by Eva Mendez and Scarlett Johansson, my whole family agreed that this was a painfully bad movie. A guy sitting at the end of our row fell asleep during this piece of junk. While he was still out the price of his ticket, at least he made better use of his time than we did. My daughter woke him before we left. She felt bad leaving him like that.
My wife's family is Catholic, so we also have a Christmas Eve tradition of going to her sister's house for dinner. So last night we had a nice dinner and a good time. Afterward, we came home and lit the Chanukah candles for the fourth night.
Does any of this really matter?
It does and here's why, from a couple of articles I linked to today at Little Green Footballs:
Iraq's Christians, a scant minority in this overwhelmingly Muslim country, quietly celebrated Christmas on Thursday with a present from the government, which declared it an official holiday for the first time.and
But security worries overshadowed the day for many, particularly in the north where thousands of Christians have fled to escape religious attacks.
Overall security in Iraq has improved markedly in the past year, but a fatal car bombing in Baghdad on Christmas morning was a gruesome reminder that serious problems remain.
Rushing to Christmas mass, Iraqis in their Sunday best hurried into Baghdad's Sacred Heart church, pausing just long enough so a uniformed security guard could pat them down for suicide vests or dangerous weapons.No mention is made as to whether there are any Jews left in Iraq to celebrate Chanukah.
The juxtaposition of faith and fear is one that resonates across Iraq, where as violence drops people are cautiously venturing out from homes bunkered by blast walls and sand bags and taking up activities abandoned during years of bloodshed.
Christians, who with Yazidis, Shabaks and others make up Iraq's fragile minorities, marked perhaps their safest Christmas since 2003 on Thursday, but many still talk of a precarious future in a nation at risk of backsliding into civil war.
Iraqi Christians, believed to number around 750,000, have been targeted like others in Iraq's 28-million, mainly Muslim population by the horrific violence since the 2003 invasion. Their plight often gains heightened attention in the West.
Reliable figures are hard to find on how many Christians are among the millions who have fled the country, but some Christian leaders warn of a threat to the existence for their community.
A series of high-profile attacks against Christians in the northern city of Mosul this fall prompted the flight of thousands of families and fuelled a fear of being singled out.
"Christians have no political ambitions and they don't have militias to defend themselves. They are peaceful people," Thaier al-Sheikh, the pastor of the Sacred Heart church, said as he sipped tea in his rectory.
"Christians have been here longer than Muslims, 600 years longer. We are the roots of Iraq," he said.
"We want to live in this country; we don't want anything else. But we want to live peacefully ... Unfortunately, today we have the impression that Christians have no future in Iraq," he said, standing before he donned his gold-trimmed clerical robes.
And then there is the rest of the Islamic world. There are a very few Jews left in some Islamic nations, but are they allowed to openly celebrate the Jewish holidays? I'm guessing that they aren't. At one time perhaps, the authorities were more forgiving in allowing Jews and Christians to practice their religions, but with the current jihadist climate that has taken hold of the Muslim world, I bet things are tough.
There has also been articles about attacks on Jews in Europe - by whom? Oh yeah, Muslims - uh - I mean - youths. We don't know who these youths are, or why they attack Jews, or burn cars, or riot, or . . . you get the idea. If I were a European Jew, would I shut the drapes before lighting my Chanukah candles? Would we have the decorations in the window that we have, that we've always had, year after year? We live across the street from a church, but we've never feared anyone at the church. We were even friends with the previous pastor. Would I be able to say the same thing if I live across from a mosque? In London or Berlin?
I value the freedom I and my children have to practice Judaism in the open, without fear. I have that freedom because my grandparents were willing and able to move to this strange foreign country from Russia and Poland way back in beginning of the 20th century. A lot of people, Jews and non-Jews take this freedom for granted. It's something that we've always had, and so they think, something we will always have. Religious persecution is for other countries. I think they are asleep at the wheel. There are people in this country who do want to take that freedom from us. A lot of people don't want to face that fact and put on great demonstrations about reaching out to others in order to "know the other." They won't admit that "the other" wants to murder them and their children.
Some people don't want to consider the situation where we could, right here in the United States, be persecuted for our religious beliefs. But there are people in California being persecuted and blacklisted for their political beliefs. They foolishly thought they had the right contribute to the campaign to pass Proposition 8 in California. Not only have churches been vandalized, but some people have been harassed and forced from their jobs for this allegedly protected political speech. What's worse is that nobody, outside of a few conservative bloggers, have risen to their defense. Where are the newspapers who pretend to be guardians of our freedom? Where is the ACLU on this? Don't they claim to protect civil liberties? And where will the ACLU and all of the other "human rights" groups be when these brownshirt tactics begin to be used against religious minorities? They won't be on our side, that's for sure.