Faith MacDonnell of the Institute on Religion and Democracy writes at FrontPage magazine about the dinner this evening between the president of Iran and his American Christian friends:
Arranging the Iftar at Manhattan’s Grand Hyatt Hotel, accompanied by obsequious verbiage about “the significance of religious contributions to peace,” and “building mutual understanding between our peoples, nations, and religious traditions,” the event’s sponsoring committee is just the latest example of the pattern of Western behavior towards Islam that has been so well described and foretold in the work of Bat Ye’or and others. In some cases, these mainline Christian leaders are toadies, hoping to avert a jihad-level catastrophe by assuming the position as submissive “People of the Book.” In other cases, mainline Christian leaders have reached the point where the doctrines of the Christian faith (for which many Iranian Christians have been willing to die) have no meaning anymore, and all religions are equivalent.
Perhaps it would be worth it to hold your nose and dine with the devil if it meant an opportunity to speak out about Iran’s repression and persecution, to be a voice for those who are suffering, and to demand that Islam offer reciprocity for the freedom of religion and decency of treatment that Muslims have received from Christians, Jews, and Baha’is. With Iran on the verge of a new level of repression, and religious minorities in Iran facing a new level of siege because of the proposed apostasy penal code, an American Christian leader is needed to speak with courage and forthrightness over a dinner plate. To use the phrase that mainline liberal church leaders are so fond of when it comes to attacking George Bush, a prophetic voice to speak truth to power. Ahmadinejad will hear such voices, but he will not hear them in the posh dining rooms of the U.S. mainline church leaders. He will hear them in the prison cells and court rooms of Iran.
Meanwhile, in the Washington Post,
Thursday’s dinner is framed as an “international dialogue” on the topic, “Has Not One God Created Us? The Significance of Religious Contributions to Peace.” President Ahmadinejad has manipulated such dialogues repeatedly into a platform for spreading intolerance, and there is no reason to think that this event will be any different.
It is disturbing enough that a leader who has worked so ruthlessly to close off channels for free expression at home should be given an opening to expound his views here. But the invitation to President Ahmadinejad comes amid a rapidly accelerating deterioration of religious freedom and other human rights in Iran, including prolonged detention, torture, and executions often based on the religion of the accused.
Gaer and Cromartie then recount some of the latest depredations in the Islamic Republic, including religious repression, suppression of political dissent, jailing of journalist, and Holocaust-denial support. They then conclude:
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is convinced that inviting the New York community, UN officials and the media to join him in a dialogue undermines the legitimacy and seriousness of religious contributions to peace. Worse, the invitation offers President Ahmadinejad a new, prestigious podium for espousing his ideology of intolerance.
Another way to put this is to say that the Christian leaders are being as tools, unwitting dupes of a tyrannical regime. Way to go, folks.