Christianity has always been considered a threat to governments, because it maintains that individuals answer first and foremost to God–and by ‘individuals’ we also mean those running the governments.
Rome led things off, even going so far as to accuse Christians of being atheists, for not being willing to give sacrifices to the gods. Just one problem: one of those gods was the emperor himself. Despite being the best possible citizens one could have, Christians were deemed a threat to the integrity of the state itself. I document and discuss this thoroughly in this long treatment I wrote awhile back.
Religionists would be deemed a threat to the state in the French Revolution, and would be slaughtered by the bushels in the name of the ‘age of reason.’ The “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen” explicitly distills all authority into the state:
3. The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation. No body nor individual may exercise any authority which does not proceed directly from the nation.
The ‘limits’ of ‘Natural rights’ can be ‘determined by law.’ (Art. 4). Put it all together: our rights come from the state. The enlightened french did allow people to have their religious views, “provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.” How nice of them! It is not hard to see how such a view would not comport very well with religious views that puts sovereignty first and foremost with God, who then delegates some of that authority to humans; Christianity posed a threat to the French nation.
Compare and contrast with the American system, which said that our rights came from God, not the state, and one of these rights was freedom of religious expression (ie, not just possession of religious views).
The communists saw, and still see, Christianity as a threat to the nation for the same reasons. Christianity believes that God created the world, created us male and female, will hold us accountable for our disobedience, and has bought us all for a price–thus establishing that we each have a value that transcends whatever the state might decide we have. Religious expression under the Soviet and Chinese communist systems was highly restricted and viewed as tantamount to treason if not done according to the ‘public order established by law.’ They just had a different vision of ‘public order’ than the Enlightened French did, you see. China may have lightened up somewhat, but I would not suggest being a Christian in North Korea.
The Nazis of course fully embraced this perspective. Point 24 of the Nazi party platform of 1920 reads:
24. We demand freedom for all religious denominations in the State, provided they do not threaten its existence not offend the moral feelings of the German race.
The Party, as such, stands for positive Christianity, but does not commit itself to any particular denomination. It combats the Jewish-materialistic spirit within and without us, and is convinced that our nation can achieve permanent health only from within on the basis of the principle: The common interest before self-interest. [emphasis in original, I believe]
And we know how that worked out.
In today’s news, we read that five Christians in Iran have been arrested for the highly treasonous act of praying together in a house:
“There has been a noticeable increase in the harassment, arrests, trials and imprisonments of converts to Christianity, particularly since the beginning of 2012,” Kankhwende said. “Any movement that differs from or offers an alternative to orthodox Shia Islam, and any persons who chooses to follow an alternative belief system, are interpreted as a challenge to the very state itself.”
In Islam, like with Rome, like with the Communists, like with the French in the late 1700s, the state is identifiable with the highest levels of authority. I am literally in an email correspondence right now with a Muslim who insists that Islam is friendly with Christians, “giving them their freedom.” You see it, right? On his view, rights and freedoms flow from the state. (In his case, an Islamic state, or eventual world Caliphate) Any view that suggests there is anything higher than the state is dangerous view.
This is no theoretical philosophizing. The systems described above produced outcomes that can be measured by how high the stacks of bodies got. It is simply a fact of history that the most dangerous entity is a state that believes it is the end all and be all, the final reservoir of all rights, and the ultimate dispenser of those rights. Check out Rummel’s democide site, and see how many exceptions you can find, and measure the deaths in those exceptional cases against the ones that fit my description.
With this kind of history behind us, we should be not merely be wary, we should be positively troubled by Obama’s constant statements that America’s constitution gives us a ‘freedom of worship.’ He equivocates, identifying ‘freedom of expression’ with ‘freedom of worship’ and/or, ‘freedom of religious views.’ This is why he has no problem trampling on the religious freedoms of millions of Americans. He is a Progressive; he views the state as the ultimate reservoir of all rights, and the ultimate dispenser of those rights. When religion gets in the way of the ‘public order as established by law’ then the common good must take precedence. Here is a very good article discussing Obama’s contorted notion of ‘religious freedom.’ It is recent, but many commentators have been making this point for some time.
America is a country of checks and balances, and it is precisely for this reason that it has been so successful. What many people don’t realize is that the framers of the Constitution envisioned other checks and balances besides having three branches of the government. The right to bear arms was one such check. The right to religious freedom of expression is another, because it has allowed American’s citizens the right to criticize its own country and hold it to a standard that transcends the country itself. Get rid of either of these two checks, and watch what happens. And it is happening, piece by piece.
Even if you do not believe in Christianity, if you do not work to protect the ironclad right to express one’s religion, not merely have religious viewpoints, I don’t think you will be pleased with how things come home to roost. Moreover, if you are in the camp that believes the state is the be all and end all, watch out! Rome wasn’t built in a day.
To see how America might have turned out, check out my recent short story where I contemplate what might have happened if Hitler had been killed in the early 1920s. It’s called Mordecai’s Dilemma. Check it out.