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Column: Americans Should Fight For Freedom Around World

This story was written by Dan Streib, Daily Illini


It's quite ironic that the individuals most solidly against the Christian right here at home tend to be the ones least willing to confront severe violations of religious freedom abroad. Take this headline on Thursday in Great Britain's Daily Telegraph: "Iran arrests 49 for wearing 'satanic' clothing." Not only does Iran disallow the self contradicting "gay marriage," but it violently persecutes people who wear western clothing because of its perverted religious outlook.

My questions are simply as follows. Where are the protests? Where are the cries of outrage? Does religious freedom only matter here at home? How about clothing freedom? Why can't Iranians be free, too?

Despite obvious answers to these questions, many people are still obsessed with what they see as violations of religious freedom at home- particularly regarding the gay marriage issue. They are so obsessed with it that they don't even care about threats to freedom from abroad.

But this is illogical. All threats to freedom are important and should be dealt with as much as possible. To conclude that we shouldn't oppose enemies of our freedoms abroad because we fail to fully embrace freedom at home makes no sense. It is obvious that a nation must do the right thing wherever it can. And failing on one front does not presuppose that one must not try to do right elsewhere.

But my disagreement with those who fight the Christian right at home without challenging enemies to freedom abroad goes one step further: The Christian right is no enemy of freedom! Honestly, it would make no sense for the Christian right to be a part of the modern conservative movement otherwise.

After all, the modern conservative movement was merely an effort to return to the roots of the so called "Old Right." Basically, the American variant of conservatism has always held a special place for freedom and saw big government intrusions into the economy as violating it. The late father of modern conservatism, William F. Buckley, saw it as inconsistent and morally repugnant for conservatives to be pro-freedom at home but not abroad - hence his harsh anti-communism that was later adopted by the late Ronald Reagan.

Is it not strange to suppose that the religious right would be accepted into a movement so predicated on freedom promotion, if it somehow proved to be an obstacle to that goal?

Well, in an interview with Christianity Today from 1995, Buckley stated that, "What frightens people most about the religious right is the rhetoric that is sometimes used."

In truth, Buckley went on to say that, "Everything that [Jerry] Falwell then and [Pat] Robertson now would like to have happen was happening when I was going to school, and we didn't think of ourselves as living under a tyrannical regime."

So the Christian right is not anti-freedom, and they are conservative because of fears regarding judicial overreach and the unconstitutional elimination of certain traditions.

And about one of those traditions: marriage. Since marriage is by definition a union between a man and a woman (this is not a religious definition, but a universal one - do the research), allowing it to be changed to mean homosexual unions at the same time would attack its defining characteristic.

The question that needs to be asked is not "Why can't gays marry?" but rather, "Why do homosexual unions need to be called marriages at all?" They can be respected, cherished and legally recognized without the title "marriage." In fact, this is what most conservatives favor.

More important, someone needs to ask why this issue has been made into a rallying cry for religious and homosexual tolerance in a society that has watched shows like "Will and Grace" and "Quee Eye for the Straight Guy," for years now.

Wake up, people! There are countries where those shows are banned. There are countries who hold religious intolerance as government policy. There are countries that seek to force their religion on others. One of them is Iran. Should that nation be allowed to have nuclear weapons?

I'll let you decide which issue is more important.

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