Thursday, January 27, 2011

Christians converting to Islam out of fear

Turns out, some Christians are doing in Pakistan what has happened in Islamic civilization from the beginning.  They are converting to Islam because they are afraid.  This isn't really anything new.  Except that it still happens, when many people are shocked as if this has never happened before.  Since its foundations, Islam has often made it more beneficial to become Muslim, one way or another.

The reason this might be shocking to some folks is the tendency we've had for the last few generations of focusing on the sins of the Christian West and ignoring the sins of anyone else.  Of course, history is fluid like that, and what we focus on and how we interpret things often says more about the historian than the historical topic at hand.  In our zeal to undo ages of European contempt for other cultures, and in the interest of validating a removal of traditional Western values from the table, we've tended to downplay, if not downright ignore, the sins of various cultures.

We've had no problem emphasizing, over and over and over and over again, the sins of Christian Europe.  We know all about the Crusades, the atrocities committed therein, persecution of Jews, wars against other religious minorities, persecution of heretical sects, the Inquisition - why the list goes on and on.  But when it comes to other cultures and civilizations, we have more or less been given a positive, vague 'it was a very good place' take.  Even when the facts of how Muslims treated non-Muslims throughout history are mentioned, they are downplayed, or qualified by 'It wasn't always like that everywhere in the Muslim world!'  Of course, it wasn't always like that in the Christian West either, but that's usually not what we hear.

So when folks today hear that Christians are converting in Pakistan out of stark raving fear, some seem shocked.  Others have the faintest reaction as if to say, "Somewhere deep in my mind something tells me I shouldn't be shocked, I just don't know why."  If we were honest about history, and applied even a tenth of the harsh and merciless standards against other cultures that we have, for decades, applied to our own heritage, we wouldn't have to wonder.

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