Friday, 7 May 2010
President Obama may have once been viewed as a Messiah, not least because of his soaring rhetoric which drew comparisons with Martin Luther King Jnr., but his administration clearly doesn't get religion. Consequently, according to the chair of the Congress appointed but politically independent US Commission on Religious Freedom, they are taking their eyes off the issue of freedom of religion across the world, and by doing so fostering the conditions that cause extremism to 'thrive like bacteria in a petri dish'.
The Commission's latest report identifies the 13 "usual suspects" when it comes to constraints on religious freedom, a group of nations which includes China of course, but then there are also another 12 countries including Russia, Vietnam, Belarus, Indonesia and Venezuela which the commission regards as forming a "second tier group" of nations that should be of concern, with all of whom it seems to be business as usual for the US (and for Australia, come to think of it). In fact, the only country against which actions have recently been taken by the US for the curtailment of religious freedoms is Eritrea; hardly a world-changing initiative.
We in Australia are used to government policy and the public square being radically religion-free zones, but I venture to say this is a new experience for the US. Whatever Obama's personal beliefs may be, and it is not my intention to second-guess his personal profession of faith, his presidency seems to be playing out as the first post-modern, post-Christian, post-religious administration in US history...quite ironic, really.