The Indy Star has an editorial today arguing that “the Bush administration must take a strong stand against the trial of Afghan man accused of converting to Christianity.” Abdul Rahman faces the death penalty for becoming a Christian.
This is the kind of thing that happens in a land where religious minorities are not vigorously protected from the passions and preferences of the majority. Closer to home, Representative Bosma has apparently made the argument that Christian prayer as official business of the Indiana House of Representatives is perfectly alright because Christians enjoy such a large majority in the state (the figure suggested was 80% Christian, 2% Jew). Now, before anyone starts hyperventilating over the comparison, please note that I realize having your government endorse Christianity to the exclusion of one’s minority religion is nowhere near as severe as having your government execute you for believing in your minority religion. But some have suggested that those of minority religions either need to suck it up or leave because Christians are the majority and majority rules in America, failing to recognize that protection of minorities against the passions and preferences of the majority are an essential component of our Constitutional Republic.
The Indy Star editorial mentions “freedom and democracy” in the same sentence. Sometimes the two are not perfectly compatible. Sometimes freedom requires antidemocratic protections against the majority. I speculate that if you polled all the citizens of Afghanistan, you’d find a majority in favor of Rahman’s execution. Majority support still would not make it right.