December 3, 2009
Switzerland should not have banned minarets. It was both wrong and stupid, which is something even for government. Condemnations will be loud and are deserved. Meanwhile in November a Russian priest has been martyred in Moscow for the temerity of disagreeing with the Islamic religion or Putin's oligarchy.
Few will notice or care.
It is sad commentary on the state of Europe and America that a few minarets not built will generate more outrage than a dead priest. It is wrong to keep someone from building a place of worship, but it is worse to kill their religious leaders to silence them.
If we are to condemn violations in Europe of the right to build religious structures, and we should, then we must raise our voices against Turkey.
If you can build a building, but your cleric is not safe there, then you have no religious freedom. We should seek out the murderers of Father Daniel Sysoyev who tried to silence a brave religious man for his opinions.
The titular leader of the world's millions of Orthodox Christians cannot build a seminary in Turkey. Christians cannot build adequate churches in that European nation, a situation that is not about to change. Surely centuries of brutal second-class citizenship for Turkish Christians are as serious as the wrong-headed actions of the Swiss last week.
The Swiss voters were wrong and the Turkish government is wrong, but the Swiss voters were wrong this week and the Turkish government is now into decades of keeping an Orthodox seminary closed. Our condemnation should, therefore, be proportional, but it will not be.
The Swiss voters were foolish to try to solve an inner problem with cosmetics, but the fears of the Swiss voters are not with a basis. A brave, but dead priest in Moscow stokes their fears. Centuries of Christian history may soon end in Istanbul, ancient Constantinople, because the government of Turkey will not allow a seminary to replenish the Turkish priesthood—and this aggravates the worries of the Swiss voters.
By all means, however, let us loudly condemn the voters of Switzerland with their long record of warfare, religious intolerance, and violence against believers. Let us gloss over the Turkish practices, or study them in yet another fruitful EU conference, because of the long record of tolerance for religious minorities in Turkey.
The Ecumenical Patriarch is old and the problem may solve itself, like many problems in Europe, through the inevitable truths of the actuary table.
There is a double standard and the Swiss voters knew it. The martyrdom of Christians in the Sudan, the work camps for Christians in China, the yearly martyrdom of Christians in North Korea, and the destruction of Coptic Christianity in Egypt is hardly a topic for polite conversation let alone passionate condemnation. Islamic radicals can kill Christians, the "secular" Turkish government can inhibit their freedom of religion, and Communist states can massacre them, and too little will be said.
Let Swiss voters ban minarets and we will rally to do something. Two wrongs do not of course make a right, but in a world of wrongs some are worth more outrage than others.
Father Sysoyev is dead in Moscow, but by all means let us condemn the Swiss voters loudly enough that we cannot hear his blood cry out for justice. If we look into it too hard, it might complicate the European energy picture.
If a good priest was killed for his opinions about Islam, it is far worse than a bad-zoning decision by fearful Swiss voters. If a good priest was killed for his opposition to the corruption in the Putin government, then this is far worse than banning minarets.
Christians should unite and ask the Swiss people to reconsider their foolish decision. They should even more loudly demand that European Turkey allow churches and seminaries to be freely built.
Christians should pray that the soul of our father in Christ Daniel Sysoyev rest in peace and the faithful in Moscow should see that justice comes to the killers.