The United States replied to 9/11 with not only military might but the hope that Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries would gain freedom. A WORLD cover in 2005 showed an Iraqi voter making an ink-fingered peace sign. Television networks this year showcased demonstrators for freedom in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere in the Muslim world.
But with democratic experiments stalling, more Americans are asking basic questions: Do many devout Muslims, for theological reasons, see liberty as an enemy? Is it historical accident that societies with a Protestant base have typically developed free institutions, and societies with a Muslim base typically have not?
To examine these questions we could use a brief foray into the comparative religion course that I taught for a decade at the University of Texas, where I tried to explain the basic Christian story of Creation, Fall, and Redemption.