Faith-shattering reports from Iraq

Besides 3,487 Iraqis killed and 13,720 Iraqis wounded since April—mostly civilians and mostly dying at the hands of U.S.-led Coalition forces, Iraqi Christians are being murdered by other Iraqis. A Time magazine reporter describes the Sept. 7 murder of 27-year-old Keis Isitfan, a laundry worker shot while driving home from the U.S. embassy.

Istifan is one of an increasing number of Christians targeted for their presumed support of American intervention in Iraq, reports Christopher Allbriton, for Time.

Would it shatter your faith to acknowledge that, under Saddam Hussein, Iraqi Christians coexisted in relative peace with Muslims? Before the U.S. occupation, Easter services were broadcast on state television and Christian-owned liquor stores allowed to operate during Hussein’s regime.

Rich Iraqi Christians are now leaving the country in droves, Allbritton reports in Time’s Sept. 20 issue. Poor Iraqi Christians are stuck in the midst of violence.

Allbritton, a former Associated Press and New York Daily News reporter, maintains a Web blog, He says some readers complain, asking him to report “the truth” about good things that U.S. forces are doing in Iraq. So he tells about U.S. soldiers rebuilding a city park. Yet this effort doesn’t impress Iraqis.

“[Iraqis] don’t want city beautification projects,” Allbritton writes. “They want electricity, clean water and, most of all, an end to violence. … What was once a hell wrought by Saddam is now one of America’s making.”

There’s no reason for Allbritton to be making this stuff up. His accounts mirror many others. The body count of Iraqis killed in the last five months (cited above as 3,487) came from the Iraqi interim government. Nearly 10 Iraqi civilians died for each death of a U.S. soldier, according to Knight Ridder’s Washington Bureau, and most deaths occurred from U.S. military action rather than insurgent attacks.

Given the disaster in Iraq, it’s surprising that so many evangelical-type Christians are working double-time to make sure that Warmonger George gets another four years—and an untold number of lost lives—to pursue his imperialistic agenda.

I like to imagine that good-hearted believers truly thought that we were liberating Iraqis from the darkness of oppression to the light of freedom. After all, as George W. Bush told folks in the Middle East last year, “God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did …”

Now, you’d think some might wake up and admit that, oops, Iraq was a bad call.

Then again, why confess to making a mess when Fox New buoys the illusion that life in Baghdad is generally hunky-dory?

About a decade ago, evangelical writer Josh McDowell crafted a book for teens called Don’t Check Your Brain at the Door. The book purported to encourage critical thinking. Nowadays that ethos seems absent from religion. Church leaders ought to be showing the documentary OutFoxed on Sunday mornings, but it’s apparently not OK to question god-invoking leaders or overly supportive cable news networks and radio talk-shows.

An article excerpted in this month’s Harpers helped me understand why many cling desperately to untruths. It explains why the RN&R editor received threats after running my recent “No more years” article.

In “Our Present-Day White Christian Culture,” Jacqueline Rose writes: “The lone criminal can be distanced but not the policies of a government that, democratically elected, represents each and every one of us. We cannot palm our atrocities off on a dictator. … It is when people’s self-love is threatened that they resort to extremes. Far from being humbled, they tend to lash out in narcissistic self-defense. We are in a vicious circle if it is true that there are no limits to what people will do to hold on to their beliefs in themselves.”