Some moral issues are so obvious that it is difficult to justify using up a whole pack of electrons to discuss them.
In Afghanistan, Abdur Rahman is being tried for the crime of converting to Christianity. This is considered to be an attack on Islam and is punishable by death.
Now, here comes the moral judgment:
There is not a lot of room for ambiguity here, and we are not dealing with shades of gray. Killing people who convert to another religion is evil. It is wrong; immoral; a really, really bad thing to do.
A Chance for Peace
If there is going to be any chance for peace in the world, then there must be a morality that transcends religion. There must be a morality that discusses how those of one religion should treat those of a different religion. It cannot be a system of "anything does". It certainly cannot be a system of "let us kill each other until all of the members of one of these religions is dead."
The only option that fits the bill is, "let us not make it a crime to become a member of another religion."
I have argued that this is the essence of morality. Morality concerns the use of praise, condemnation, reward, and punishment to promote a fondness for those things that it is good for people to like, and an aversion to those things that it is good for people to hate.
"Good to like" and "good to hate" in turn are understood in terms of what would fulfill other desires, regardless of whose they are.
World peace requires, among other things, a universal aversion to killing converts or those belonging to other religions. Morality, then, dictates that we condemn and, if necessary, punish those who would kill somebody who converts to another religion, and praise those who would not do so or act to prevent such a killing.
On the basis of this, we can conclude that those who would kill . . . let us use a more accurate word here, murder . . . Rahman deserve the harshest condemnation.
The following quotes identify two people who are among those who deserve the same contempt that we would show to any murderer.
Mawlawi Ghulam Haider, 75, a mullah in a Kabul mosque, said: "If somebody becomes a Christian or converts to any other religion than Islam, he must be given a chance over three days to think and return to Islam. If he returns to Islam, he can live happily ever after. But if he doesn't turn back … he will be punished by death."
From the Washington Post: “Rahman had "committed the greatest sin" by converting to Christianity and deserved to be killed, cleric Abdul Raoulf said in a sermon Friday at Herati Mosque.”
A Way Out
It is said that there are some Afghan government officials looking for a way out of this pickle -- a way of seeing to it that Rahman is not murdered because of his beliefs. As it turns out, many who are working on discovering an option are not doing it because of their contempt for Rahman’s murder. They are doing it for money; because the western world has been giving the government of Afghanistan a lot of money. They will not act to save an innocent life, but will do so for money.
However, we can still say that they are doing the right thing, even if they are doing it for the wrong reason.
One of the proposals that they are examining involves declaring Rahman to be not guilty by reason of insanity. It is wrong to kill an insane individual.
Apparently, being a convert to Christianity is something worse than being insane, because converts to Christianity can be legitimately killed, whereas the insane must be allowed to live.
So, I would like to know how this can be made into an overall plan to secure the lives of all future converts. Are they going to assert that all converts are insane, or just this one? Can the next convert rest comfortably that the Afghan government will not murder him? If the government of Afghanistan says that Rahman is insane, it appears that they will still end up eventually murdering somebody. Perhaps they hope that they can get away with it next time, because next time the rest of the world will not be looking.
There is one morally correct way out of this trap.
"We will not kill Rahman because killing people for converting to another religion is wrong, and we will not do that which is wrong."
The People of Afghanistan
The lieutenants in the army of evil advocating Rahman’s murder have said that, if the Afghan government does not murder Rahman, then they will tell their followers to do so. And those followers would likely obey.
From the Washington Post, “Senior clerics in the Afghan capital have voiced strong support for prosecuting Rahman and again warned Friday they would incite people to kill him unless he reverted to Islam.”
Plus, those same religous leaders have warned that they will lead the people in an uprising to overthrow the existing government and replace it with a pack of murderers, if the existing government does not murder Rahman. We have seen this happen elsewhere in the Middle East, where the people have elected murders into power.
Informal polls conducted of the Afghan people support this threat. Reporters have said that they have gone onto the street and could scarcely find anybody who was not in favor of Rahman’s murder.
If this is true, then this society is morally corrupt, and it has been made that way by its religious leaders. This is a group of people whose religion has made them incapable of telling the difference between good and evil, who will commit murder while shouting "God is great."
I am not saying that all Muslims are evil. Only those who would advocate Rahman’s murder are evil. Muslims who recognize that conversion does not justify killing do not fit this description.
Here is another bit of hypocrisy. Many Muslims become a riotous and murderous mob at news that people had drawn cartoons of Mohammed. They considered it an insult to Islam. Yet, they expect the Christian world to sit back and accept the murder of a Christian for becoming a Christian, and they do not recognize that this is an insult to Christianity.
Let's see; drawing a cartoon of a Muslim as a terrorist versus killing a living, breathing human being. Does it make any sense at all to condemn the former while praising the latter? If it does, I cannot see it.
There has been a lot of talk since 9/11 about the distinction between peaceful Muslims and the fundamentalist, terrorist Muslims. Here's one way that we can tell which camp a particular person actually belongs to. Do they advocate the murder of converts, or are they willing to allow converts to live out their lives in peace?
The former are evil. There is no ambiguity at this point.