Monday, March 20, 2006

And speaking of religious tests...

At least the Mormons can only excommunicate you for dissent. In Afghanistan, you can be executed for abandoning Islam:

During the one-day hearing, the defendant confessed that he converted from Islam to Christianity 16 years ago while working as a medical aid worker for an international Christian group helping Afghan refugees in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, Mawlavezada said.

"We are not against any particular religion in the world. But in Afghanistan, this sort of thing is against the law," the judge said. "It is an attack on Islam."


The prosecutor, Abdul Wasi, said he had offered to drop the charges if Rahman converted back to Islam, but he refused.

"He would have been forgiven if he changed back. But he said he was a Christian and would always remain one," Wasi told AP. "We are Muslims and becoming a Christian is against our laws. He must get the death penalty."

It's ironic that the United States got rid of the Taliban (sort of) in order to produce this kind of government in Afghanistan. This guy renounced Islam honestly and it is an enormous offense; now, if he can just renounce Christianity dishonestly, he'll escape with his head. What displeases the Beneficent and Merciful more, lies or Christianity?

If I had to guess about my own religion, I'd say that God wants us to be honest more than he wants us to conform to a certain straitjacket of denominationalism or theology. If there's one thing I've learned about religion in the last five years, it's that the only religion you really hold is the one you live; the only theology you can really believe is the theology of lived belief. Otherwise, religion is just a certain arrangement of strings of characters.

I've seen people play debate games with doctrines as chips. I've played too. The distance between that and the situation of this Afghan guy is enormous, from the playground to the gulag. He is playing for keeps, forever.

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