The Morality of Christian Secession

In “The Immortality of Christian Secession”, it was argued that there is nothing intrinsically immoral about the idea of secession. Furthermore, at the end of that essay, it was also noted that a strong case can be made to show that in certain situations, a peaceful and mutually agreed upon secession might actually be the best and most moral course of action that a country could engage in to resolve their internal difficulties. Thus, in certain circumstances, secession could be more than just morally neutral; rather, secession could be morally positive. And so, in this essay, we will examine some of the situations and circumstances in which secession could indeed be both beneficial and a moral good.

Upon starting any discussion concerning the potentially positive moral nature of secession, it is worth pointing out that many people in the West would intuitively view secession as a moral good in several different cases. For example, if we were speaking about the secession of Tibet from China, most Westerners, at an instinctive level, would very likely view the secession of Tibet as a moral good that should happen. Indeed, the fact that Tibetans and Chinese are different nations with different customs, traditions, religious rituals, and so on, combined with the fact that the Chinese essentially occupied Tibet and are currently trying to undermine Tibetan culture and Tibetan demographics, make it intuitively clear to many people that were Tibet to secede from China today, that secession would be a moral good. After all, Tibetans deserve to maintain their heritage and culture, and secession from China could help to achieve that end. And so, for many people, the separation of Tibet from China would not just be viewed as morally neutral, but rather it would intuitively be seen as morally positive. And what this shows us is that many people—or at least many Westerners—are intuitively pre-disposed towards seeing secession and self-determination as beneficial and morally positive in certain circumstances. But while Tibetan independence has been a pet cause for many in the West, for various reasons, including the complexity and history of the Tibetan situation, the example of Tibetan secession is a loaded one. Thus, let us consider another illustration, such as that of Coptic Christians living in Egypt.

In Egypt, there currently exists a large minority of Coptic Christians who are often harassed for their beliefs, oppressed by the Muslim majority, restricted from full political and social advancement, and sometimes outright killed by Islamists simply because they are Copts (and this is the case for most Christian minorities in the Middle East). Now, in such a situation, would not secession be a moral good? Indeed, would letting the Copts have their own country—where they could be largely free from Muslim oppression, discrimination, violence, and even murder—not be morally beneficial to them? I contend that it would be, and I reasonably believe that most Westerners would agree. In fact, I think that it is obvious that all other things being equal, secession in this case would clearly be a positive course of action for the Copts in Egypt.

Of course, it could be argued that the real moral issue is the oppression and lack of legal equality that the Copts suffer at the hands of the Muslim majority, and that if those issues were addressed, then the need for secession would be removed, as would its positive moral nature in this instance. And while a good case could be made for this claim, the fact of the matter is that even if the aforementioned claim could be established, it is here that we need to differentiate between an ideal solution and a realistic one. Ideally, it is potentially true that secession by the Copts (or other Middle-Eastern Christians) would not necessarily be a moral good if the discrimination and oppression against them ceased (although secession might still be desirable). However, this ideal solution is not going to happen, or at least it will not happen anytime soon. Instead, realistically, and as history readily demonstrates, the discrimination and oppression of Christians by Muslims has been ongoing, to a greater or lesser degree, since Islam’s creation, and so it is unlikely to change in the near-future. Furthermore, such discrimination and oppression by Muslims against Christians is also baked into Muslim doctrine given that Christians are to be treated by Muslims as dhimmis, which is a type of second-class citizen; and so again, it is unlikely that Muslims discrimination against Christians is going to end anytime soon when such discrimination has an Islamic theological backing to it. And indeed, this theological Muslim perspective of Christians as second-class dhimmis is one of the reasons why such discrimination and oppression of Christians by Muslims occurs nearly everywhere in the Muslim world, especially in countries with Islamic theocratic-style governments. Thus, realistically, Christian Copts will likely never receive true cultural, social, and legal equality in a largely Muslim country such as Egypt. And even if the Egyptian government strives to help the Copts, it is doubtful that the general cultural and social oppression and discrimination that Copts suffer from will end anytime soon. And so again, in such a circumstance, the most moral choice for the Copts, realistically-speaking, would be secession. And lest an objector think that secession is itself unrealistic, it should be noted that the secession of different nation groups within countries and empires has routinely occurred throughout history; by contrast, changing the cultural practices of certain groups, such as Muslims, is a much more difficult process. Thus, even though secession may not necessarily be easy, it is still a more realistic solution than many others. And so, comparatively-speaking, secession is often a much more realistic option when compared to its rivals.

Additionally, it should be noted that the discrimination and oppression of a minority population by a majority one is not just restricted to Muslims. Indeed, this is an obvious point. Human beings are, after all, a routinely selfish, sinful, and power-hungry bunch who strive for cultural and political power and hegemony when they can get it; consequently, minorities often suffer from unjust discrimination and oppression at the hands of a larger and more powerful group. Sadly, this is just human nature. And yet this aspect of human nature is not likely to change anytime soon. But what this, in turn, means, is that looking for a hard but realistic answer to this problem is often a much better and more productive course of action than is striving for an ideal but practically unachievable solution. Furthermore, the realistic solution is also arguably the more moral solution in the sense that it actually has a chance to succeed in the near-term, and thus it can actually stop the discrimination and oppression quickly and effectively. Moreover, nothing about implementing a short-term realistic solution—such as secession—negates trying to institute a long-term ideal solution, such as changing the culture; indeed, achieving the former does not necessarily remove the motivation for the latter. And so, what all this means is that when it comes to the oppression and discrimination of a minority and/or weaker identitarian group by a larger and/or more powerful identitarian group, secession is often the best realistic solution to improve the lot of the minority and/or weaker group which finds itself in such a discriminatory or oppressive situation. And since many individuals—especially the very progressives who are all-too-often opposed to Christianity—claim that ending discrimination and oppression is a moral good, and since secession is a clear way to achieve that end, then—all other things being equal—secession can be viewed as a moral good given the end that it leads to, and given that it can also be a peaceful means to achieve that end.

Now, when considering all of the above, it could be argued that secession would be of questionable moral value as a means to end the oppressive and unjust discriminatory suffering that a weaker and/or smaller population faced if secession actually led to even greater suffering and harm for that specific group of people; for example, if secession could be reasonably anticipated to serve as the catalyst which started a brutal war to occur between the old nation and the newly seceded one, then perhaps secession, in such a case, would not be morally positive from an overall perspective. And this point is indeed worthy of consideration. After all, it is possible that it could be convincingly argued that secession might not be the best solution to end the suffering of a certain group if it could be reasonably deduced that such a secession would led to an even worse state of suffering and misery for that group then the one that they started with. But even if this is correct, all this means is that in some cases, secession might not be the best or the most moral option; nevertheless, in other cases, secession might very well be the best and most realistic way of ending a group’s oppressive and discriminatory suffering at the hands of another group. And that is why, as stated, in certain cases, secession can be a moral good.

In addition to being a potentially peaceful and realistic way of ending oppression and unjust discrimination, secession could also serve as a means of preventing even worse human suffering, such as that which comes about through war. Thus, while secession might not be a good option for a certain group of people if it led to war, it would be an excellent option if it could be reasonably anticipated as the best way to prevent a war. And so, another good consequentialist argument in favor of the positive moral nature of secession arises directly from the fact that in some cases, secession could serve as the best way to avoid war and bloodshed; and since—all other things being equal—avoiding war and bloodshed is a moral good, then, by extension, secession could be seen as being a morally positive course of action given that it would be the best means to avoid that war and bloodshed. And this would be especially true if the war and bloodshed led to a nation’s separation anyway; after all, if secession could be reasonably anticipated as the inevitable outcome of a civil war, then surely a peaceful pre-war secession would be much more desirable and moral than a bloody post-war secession.

Now, to understand the above point in real terms, just think, for example, of the fact that had the different ethnic and religious groups in the former Yugoslavia actually been allowed to secede from Yugoslavia peacefully, as many of them wanted to do, then a great deal of the bloodshed, heartache, and moral atrocities that occurred during the Yugoslav Wars could have been avoided. And indeed, would peaceful secession not have been a more moral way of handling the divisions in the former Yugoslavia than civil war was? Of course peaceful secession would have been better, especially since the secession of the different ethnic and religious groups occurred anyway. So, all other things being equal, when the choice is between peaceful secession and an anticipated civil conflict that will lead to actual or practical secession anyway, but just with a lot of spilled blood before it happens, then peaceful secession is obviously the more moral choice—at least it is if you consider reducing human bloodshed and suffering to be a moral good. Thus, the point is that often, a coming civil conflict can be reasonably anticipated, which means that a pre-conflict secession could save a great deal of lives, which is inarguably a moral good. After all, all too often, homogenous nation-states come about from the break-up of heterogenous empires or multi-cultural countries, and these break-ups are often quite violent, bloody, and painful. Consequently, if peaceful secession could be used to avoid the suffering that often comes from such separations, then surely peaceful secession can be viewed in a positive moral light for this reason.

Now, yet another potential reason to see secession as a moral good is linked to the issue of diversity. In modern Western society, it is often claimed that diversity is both a strength and a moral good. However, in most cases, the people preaching the mantra that diversity is a strength, and thus a moral good, are the very people who want diversity in trivialities and externalities such as skin color or gender choice or ethnic cuisine, but who wish to quash any intellectual and ideological diversity which conflicts with their progressive narrative. By contrast, and in an ironic twist, the nationalist and the identitarian, by wishing nation-groups to maintain their unique social and cultural and linguistic identities, is actually a champion of real diversity at the national and ethnic level. Thus, whereas the identitarian-nationalist strives to achieve substantive diversity between people via the existence of truly diverse homogenous nations, the progressive-globalist actually seeks to undermine substantive diversity between people via the existence of ideologically and socially conforming heterogenous countries. But if substantive diversity is a moral good, then this is another reason to view secession in a positive moral light, for secession is indeed a way to promote and ensure actual cultural, social, and ideological diversity between different people. Thus, if genuine ideological, cultural, and social diversity is viewed as a moral good, then the secession of nations from each other, and the dissolution of multi-cultural states, is a way to truly and more permanently achieve this moral good.

Finally, it should be pointed out that in this age of human rights, the desire for self-determination by a group of people appears to be as much of a “right” as any other alleged human right. In fact, the right to self-determination appears to be a much more fundamental right than many others that are being pushed around today, such as the alleged “right” to health care or clean water. Thus, if you accept the language and idea of human rights, then whether it is considered moral or not, the desire for self-determination by a group of people can be seen as a fundamental right which is, in a way, self-justifying. And since secession is often the best way of making true self-determination happen, then, arguably, the ability to secede can be seen as a necessary extension of our human right to self-determination.

The Morality of Secession for Christians in the United States

Now, having pointed out some of the ways in which secession could be viewed as a morally positive course of action, it should also be pointed out that the aforementioned moral considerations also apply to Christians in the United States. For example, concerning persecution and oppression, Christians should not be fooled into thinking that such things will not be visited upon them in the future in America. In fact, in some parts of the United States and in many American institutions, such as academia, traditionalist Christians are already facing low-level discrimination, persecution, and bigotry for their views. And this fact was previously documented a number of years ago in such books as David Limbaugh’s 2003 book  Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity as well as Janet L. Folger’s 2005 book The Criminalization of Christianity: Read This Book Before It Becomes Illegal. More recently, these issues of both official and unofficial discrimination and bias against traditional Christians have also been noted in such books as Brad O’Leary’s 2010 book America’s War on Christianity, George Yancey and David A. Williamson’s 2014 book So Many Christians, So Few Lions: Is There Christianophobia in the United States? and Mary Eberstadt’s 2016 book It’s Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies. And these issues are even noted in the news, with popular stories appearing were traditionalist Christians, through court orders and anti-discrimination laws, have been forced to violate their consciences by offering services that they do not wish to provide. So traditional Christians in America should not be fooled: low-level persecution and minor discrimination against them is, in many places and in many way, already here. Furthermore, as Rod Dreher writes in his recent 2017 bestseller The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, this low-level persecution and discrimination against traditional Christians in America—as well as in the rest of the West— is very likely to increase in the future.

At the same time, note that progressive and liberal Americans are also worried that they will face discrimination at the hands of traditionalist Christians should Christians get in power, as has recently been seen in the often hysterical reaction of the Left against Donald Trump, and, more specifically in this case, against Vice-President Mike Pence, who is a traditional Christian. So both traditionalist Christians and progressives hold that some level of persecution and discrimination is on the horizon depending on who holds political power. And whether or not both groups are correct about the coming persecution against them, the fact is that the secession of traditional America Christians from progressive Americans, with each group going their own way, would serve to reduce any real oppression, persecution, and discrimination that either group is suffering from. It would also end the perception of persecution that either group believes is occurring.

Additionally, secession could end the ongoing cold civil war that has pitted progressive-liberal Americans against traditional Americans over the past few decades; not only this, but secession could also help ensure that this cold civil war does not escalate into a hot one, an idea which might be denied by some as a real possibility, but which history has shown often occurs when it is least expected.

And so, for all the aforementioned reasons, Christian secession in the United States could very well be a morally positive course of action for the country as a whole.

Finally, it must also be mentioned that if the right to self-determination is indeed a human right, then regardless of whether it is deemed a moral good or not, if a sufficient number of traditionalist Christians want to peacefully secede from the United States, then they should have the right to do so regardless of their reasons for it. It is, after all, their right to do so, is it not? And if the United States is unwilling to let such a group secede, then is that not a violation of their alleged human rights?

So, in the end, not only can a strong case can be made that peaceful and consensual secession is by no means intrinsically immoral, but, in many cases, it can be argued that peaceful secession is actually moral good, as well as the best potential solution to certain national difficulties. After all, secession can be the most realistic and practical means to quickly end the persecution and oppression that a specific ethnic or religious group might experience at the hands of an opposing but larger and/or more powerful group. Secession is also a potentially peaceful and bloodless means of preventing much more unpleasant ways of resolving national conflicts, such as civil war. And secession is a means of maintaining and promoting actual diversity within the international community, which many individuals view as a moral good. Consequently, for all these reasons, secession, in many instances, is often the most realistic and peaceful course of action to achieve the aforementioned moral goods, which, as argued, makes secession itself a morally positive course of action. And since many of these issues and concerns apply, at least to some degree, to Christians in the United States today, then this is itself a reason to see that a case could be made that Christian secession actually is the most realistic and most moral course of action to take to resolve the social and cultural disagreements that presently exist in the United States of America.

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