Iran is in turmoil. The country faces civil unrest. The current administration claims a legal victory. The opposition claims a fraudulent loss. Whoever wins this struggle, people are dying, although the nation will stay fundamentally the same, the same religious theocracy, the same attitude toward the Western world, the same outlook on social and cultural relationships--relatively speaking.
As I watched the scenes of violence and listened to cautious commentary, I could not help but recall the days of the Protestant Reformation. In Germany, the Papal Rome ruled supreme, aided by the German Monarch. The Church State was controlled from the Vatican. Today’s, Iran is controlled by the Ayatollah, with the assistance of the elected government.
Politically, it is still a Church State, but called a Theocracy. Whether under Papal Rome, or under Islamic Theocracy, the state is governed by the dominant laws of the controlling religion. Papal Rome is one form of Christian denomination; middle-eastern nations are under Islam, whichever sect or denomination happens to be in power.
In the current Iran conflict there are two Ayatollah’s powering the struggle, one on each side of the struggle. America was birthed out of the struggles within nations where Christianity was the dominant faith. When Luther attempted to have public discussions via his 95 Theses, he was treated like the current opposition Iranians are being treated and he fled for his life, as did many later Anabaptists flee from the Calvinists, and as non-Islamists are often forced to do.
That led to the story of the Radical Reformation--called third by some--and the birthing of the Free Church Movement led by the re-baptizers (Anabaptists, sometimes called stepchildren of the Reformation). The parallels between the Christian Church and the followers of Mohammed is striking.
The ruling political powers dominated; there was no democracy as we know it today. The free church movement came out of the Anabaptist struggles. Eventually Roger Williams and certain Baptists played a huge role as they established themselves in Rhode Island. The printed Bible paved the way to liberty to people tightly controlled, and America struggled to finally accept equality and civil rights for all denominations. Non-Christians gained the liberty to be non-Christian if they chose.
Islam still tightly controls their political, social, and cultural life, in a male-dominated fascist society. It punishes punitively. It subjugates women. It demands conformity for all. Yet, current Iranians seemingly press for the liberty of being social non-conformists and individuals. How long Islam can oppress people remains to be seen.
Americans do well to recognize the political debts they owe Christianity and the Bible--even those not calling America a “Christian” nation--even atheists. Islam should take a lesson from Christian Church history. They can tighten the grip on their lives--religiously, politically, and socially. Or, they can learn that absolute power absolutely corrupts, and that you cannot keep always people enslaved, subjugated, and forever forced to conform to the powers that be.
Whether Jehovah God or Allah, the biblical account of creation declares humanity was created in the image and likeness of God. That further suggests, as our Declaration of Independence recognizes, individual people--male and female--do have certain inalienable rights--under God--Jehovah--Allah.
Anything less, be it under the banner of Christianity or Islam, is fascist--call it what you will. Let humanity link together as humanity and recognize one another as human beings created in the image and likeness of God. Beyond that, Jesus said, that if we pursued truth far enough we would find truth, God, and a life together as human beings.
This is Wayne from Warner’s World