Defending Freedom Around the World, except Religious Freedom

Phil Lawler at Catholic Culture raises an interesting observation about the US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the culture of freedom in our strongest “ally” in the region, Pakistan:

The US is committed to a foreign policy that defends human rights. Yet in the countries where our troops have been fighting during the past decade, one fundamental human right—the right to religious freedom—has been diminished rather than enhanced, particularly for Christians.

In Iraq the Christian minority is in flight, hounded and intimidated by Islamic extremists. In Pakistan—a nation that was supposedly our ally—the Christian minority is brutally oppressed. In Afghanistan the government that we are defending prohibits our troops from importing religious literature.

The belief that the Afghan government restricts troops’ literature is inaccurate.  The same restrictions exist on such literature in Afghanistan as they did in Iraq.  While import of certain material is restricted in some situations, ultimately no US troop is denied the material he requires for his spiritual support.

Still, the remaining bits of Lawler’s observation are interesting.  It is often said that America and its military “defend freedom” around the world.  Yet, in Iraq and especially Afghanistan, where people can still be executed for leaving Islam, religious freedom does not seem to be an area of emphasis (though gender issues have been).

In fact, US representatives in Afghanistan have gone out of their way to state the American support of Islam in Afghanistan — but not religious freedom in Afghanistan.

Religious liberty is a fundamental human freedom that the US often vaunts, yet the political sensitivity of supporting freedom — as opposed to the regionally preferred religion — seems to have outweighed the desire to protect that liberty.