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Written by: C. W. Booth

Monday, January 31, 2011

Naïve News Reporting and the Revolt in Egypt

This past week a news reporter stated that Tunisia, Egypt, and several other North African countries were experiencing internal civil protests that seemed to portend revolutions. He correctly noted that these countries all presently have pro-Western secular governments ruling over populations comprised of Islamic majorities. He then made an off-the-cuff commentary that appeared naïve, if not confusing. He stated that the uprisings are not based on anti-Israeli sentiments or anti-Western leanings and that they are grass roots “pro-democracy” movements.

This is both confusing and naïve because one should not expect Islamic revolutions to result in any form of government except a theocracy possibly bolstered by a subordinate military regime or dictatorship, should they? The religion of Islam codifies a theocratic form of government via the Quran, not a democratic one. Sheria Law is the default expectation in Islam for establishing criminal law, civil law, and cultural norms (e.g. women must cover their heads) with religious clerics as the arbiters of all such matters.

By contrast biblical Christianity demands no specific form of government, secular or religious. Christians are required by biblical edict to live peacefully, respectfully, and obediently under whatever form of government the convert finds himself. Paul lived lawfully under Roman empirical rule and demanded his parishioners do likewise. America’s founding colonists were predominantly Calvinist Christians who fled mortal persecutions at the hands of dictatorial European monarchs; the colonists set up various forms of self-rule as precursors to the great democratic experiment to follow. Christianity is comfortable living under and within any form of government, from dictatorship to democracy. Christianity may be somewhat unique in this regard.

Will the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia follow the pattern of the Iranian revolution (which started as a popular protest against the secular government of the dictatorial pro-Western Shah)? That would seem to be a most logical outcome. Expecting democratic governments to be either desired by or fought for by those who do not find democracy to be compatible with their fundamental religious preferences and sacred texts is simply naïve. Time and history will dispel both naivety and speculation.

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