Attention Atheists: The Pope Is Your Ally

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On Christmas Eve, Pope Benedict XVI lamented that the "boots of warriors continue to tramp" and urged Christians in China not to "lose heart through the limitations imposed on their freedom of religion and conscience." Daniel Henninger heard these words and connected them to the attacks by Islamic extremists on two churches in Nigeria and a chapel in the Philippines over Christmas.

It's a little counterintuitive, but Henninger concluded that secular people who believe foreign policy should champion freedom must recognize that the pope as a strategic ally. He elaborates in a Wall Street Journal column:

For some, the Vatican's efforts on behalf of Christian minorities in Islamic countries or among China's population of 1.3 billion is regarded as worthy and admirable, but only a footnote against the grand sweep of current geopolitical concerns. Iran's bomb, China's economic importance and all that. This is a mistake. In these times, the pope's agenda is the civilized world's agenda. The pope's agenda is individual freedom ...

It has been odd in recent years to see prominent atheists make so much effort to diminish Judeo-Christian belief. In the modern world, and certainly in the U.S. from the Pilgrims onward to the Bill of Rights, religious practice has been bound up in the idea--now the principle--of individual freedom. I don't think secularist arguments alone for individual freedoms have sufficient strength and fiber to stand against their current opposition. Benedict's fight for freedom and that of recent Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo are the same.

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