While Christians around the world await news regarding the fate of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani — a convert from Islam to Christianity whom the government of Iran has sentenced to death for his “apostasy” — influential former Democrat Senator Gary Hart (photo) has penned an editorial for HuffingtonPost.com claiming the Nadarkhani case is a warning of the dangers of orthodox Christianity.
Hart began his editorial (“The Plight of Youcef Nadarkhani”) by acknowledging that Christians are facing persecution around the world: “Though there are reports of persecution of Christians in many countries, China included, it usually takes the plight of a single identifiable individual to make an otherwise generalized problem — in this case religious intolerance — take concrete rather than abstract dimensions.” Some writers might view such an observation as a springboard to speak of Islam’s brutal record of systematic persecution of other religions since its founder, Mohammed, personally set the pattern for 14 centuries of butchery targeting the Christians, Jews and other religions. However, for Gary Hart, the lesson of the case of Youcef Nadarkhani is that orthodox Christians are a threat to America. In Hart’s words:
The re-emergence of the religious right in America during this current presidential campaign, though mild by comparison to threatened executions by radical clerics, should give us cause for concern. Though well over two centuries ago, "witches" were burned in this country and a recent book documents the struggles of Roger Williams against fundamentalist intolerance. The persistent thread of intolerance springs from a narrow fundamentalist insistence on orthodoxy in an age in which strict religious doctrine in some quarters quickly emerged to fill the vacuum of failed 20th century political ideologies. And religious orthodoxy exhibits an almost demented insistence on conformity and intolerance toward political dissent.
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