A Divide, Not Between Religions, But Religion and the Lack of it.
As religion has become less important in individual lives in Western nations, it has become more important in many non-Western nations, such as Saudi Arabia. According to a recent article in The Economist (July 9-15, 2011, p. 57, “Polling Religion, Unequal Zeal” ), http://www.economist.com/node/18926205
the world’s religious divide is not so much about different religions (i.e., Christianity and Islam) as about “the lack of any religion in the public or private lives of many Westerners.”
When I lived in Saudi Arabia, I worshiped as a Christian in house churches discretely located within housing compounds. Raids on Christian services were rare. Most arrests of Americans in Saudi Arabia were not for religious practices. They were more likely to be for excessive consumption or sale of liquor. The use of drugs and pornography also led to arrests. In short, judging from the arrests, Christian beliefs did not bother authorities nearly so much as behavior against Muslim as well as Christians norms.
The American Christian characters of my novel Singing in Babylon know a sense of exile not only in Saudi Arabia but also when they return to the United States.
Though their story is not my own, this sense of exile does mirror my experience on returning from the Muslim-majority countries where I lived. I worshiped as a minority there. So also I do here, though, thankfully, without fear of arrest.
That Saudi Arabia does not allow freedom of religion is certainly a matter of concern, but another concern is how few Americans practice it there or here.