This past Christmas a billboard was erected at the entrance of New York City’s Lincoln tunnel. The billboard was paid for by an atheist organization.Those who do not believe in God wanted car drivers’ focus on “reason” over “religion.” The billboard pictured three wisemen and a baby, symbolizing Christian nativity. Under the picture appeared these words, “You know it’s a myth. This season, celebrate reason.” As one might imagine, the ad caused quite a stir, capturing headlines around the U. S. Yet, in America, every person’s religious speech is protected. Americans are free to follow their faith.
In Iraq, however, things are different. The New York Times has recently pointed out that Christians are persecuted by Muslims. For instance, Christians have been purged from Mosul, Iraq. Only a fraction of the Christian populace remains. During this past Christmas season, anti-Christian bombings and assassinations in Iraq culminated in the siege of a church, Our Lady of Salvation. The result was the death of dozens of worshipers and two priests. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki spoke with force and eloquence against extremist violence [quote] “The Christian is an Iraqi. He is the son of Iraq and from the depths of a civilization that we are proud of.” [end quote] Some Christian minorities have coexisted with Islam in Iraq since the time of Jesus. Today in Iraq, Christians pose no threat to the Muslim majority. Christians are killed because extremists hate them.
What does Christian persecution in Iraq have to do with an atheist billboard in New York City? In a word: everything. I remember reading Steven Colbert’s scathing sarcasm of religious groups in his book I Am America, save one: Islam. Colbert simply quotes Muslim doctrine without critique. One wonders why. Could it be that Colbert, like so many others in Hollywood, are not being so much politically correct as they are afraid of being physically killed? I suspect that we will not soon see any anti-Muslim billboards erected by Steven Colbert or atheists.
A few days before Christmas, the atheist billboard was replaced by a billboard proclaiming God’s existence. In keeping with our country’s sense of fair play, when one voice is heard another is given opportunity to respond. In America we believe both in free speech and freedom of religion. Generally speaking, atheists and Christians do not kill each other when we disagree. But when we know Christians are being killed in Muslim countries, atheists and Christians can both agree: free expression is a prized possession. For Moody Radio, this is Dr. Mark Eckel, personally seeking truth wherever it’s found.
Moody Radio will broadcast this audio-blog in the winter of 2011.