December 3, 2017

Why Christian Extremism Seems Milder Than Islamic Extremism

deserted island beach
Suppose we discovered a previously unknown island roughly the size of Puerto Rico that was uninhabited and unclaimed by any country. Now suppose that we placed the following people in charge of this island and gave them absolute authority to create any form of government they desired without having to adhere to the laws of any other country: Pat Robertson, Ray Comfort, Ken Ham, Louie Gohmert, Roy Moore, Michele Bachmann, Mike Pence, and...well, I think you get the idea. If I've left any of your personal favorites off the list, feel free to add them. The specific personalities aren't terribly important here.

Now that we've got this island with these people running the show, what sort of government do you suppose they would set up? A Christian theocracy, of course! Remember, they are not beholden to the laws of any other country. They don't have to worry about the U.S. Constitution; they are free to draft their own set of laws. Unless all of them have been lying to us this entire time about what they want to see here in the U.S., I think we'd have to predict that a Christian theocracy is exactly what they'd set up.

With their new Christian theocracy in place, I imagine they'd successfully recruit many evangelical fundamentalist Christians currently residing in the U.S. to relocate to their island. After all, they'd be able to give these Christians everything they say they want. Abortion would be a criminal offense, women would have to be subservient to men, anyone afflicted with "teh gay" would likely be put to death, and the failure to respond in kind when someone wished one "Merry Christmas" would lead to a public flogging. It would be a Christian extremist paradise!

"But don't you think Islam is far worse than Christianity?" is a question I hear at least a couple times a week. Yes, yes I do. I think that contemporary Islam as it is practiced in theocratic societies is far worse than contemporary Christianity as it is practiced in democratic societies. This should come as no surprise. The Islam one finds in theocracies has not had the same moderating effect of secularism and Enlightenment values that have helped to reign in the Christianity we find in democracies. We don't have true Christian theocracies today, but we do have true Islamic theocracies.

If we wanted to see Christianity become as bad as Islam, all we'd need to do is lift the restraints imposed by secular democratic societies and create a scenario like what I described above. Give Christian extremists absolute power to inflict their will on the rest of us, and I suspect we'd be hard-pressed to argue that the result would be any better than what we see in modern Islamic theocracies. Given such unchecked power, I see little reason to think that Pat Robertson or Mike Pence would be much better than an Iranian Ayatollah.