Why does America produce so much more religious activity and diversity than other Western countries? Some thinkers point to the generative power of the separation of church and state, and attribute America’s growing spirituality to the blessings of religious freedom.
Sadly, that freedom is decreasing in the world today, just where we hoped it was about to flower: in the “Arab Spring.”
Daily news of turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa continues to overflow with casualties we can hardly count: Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Syria followed the lead of Tunisia and Libya. Stability is threatened in other countries in the region, too: Egypt, Turkey, and the Gulf states. Iran, and its proxies, Hezbollah & Hamas, spread violence in many parts of the region, as refugees from current and previous conflicts threaten to overwhelm receiving nations. A vast movement of populations has taken place: in Qatar, only one-third of the residents are citizens, while the rest are refugees, migrant workers, or exiles.
Meanwhile, 900 U.S. troops have arrived in Jordan to help that vulnerable country.
These conflicts have multiple causes that include ethnic and religious differences. Many Western leaders, and others, thought the revolutions represented the rise of democracy. Western hope was that democracy and modernity would bring civil liberties to the region; and prominent among them, religious freedom, which is so desperately needed.