Their dramatic nighttime rescue after a frightening forced retreat from Kabul with fleeing Taliban forces should be the stuff of Hollywood legend. In the end, U.S. military helicopters were able to find the two women (and six other Western aid workers) only after quick-thinking Heather suggested using their Taliban-imposed burqas to light a bonfire. Some others would perhaps have only cursed the darkness.
While thankfully in the United States we do not have to face such severe threats to religious liberty, other, subtler forms of intolerance for religious diversity still surface from time to time.
This year for example, the American Psychological Association proposed to strip religious colleges and universities with psychology programs of their accreditation unless they agreed to hire and admit professors, administrators, board members and students of all faiths on an equal basis. Religious colleges could keep their accreditation, in other words, only if they essentially transformed themselves into secular schools. Nice, huh?
Why would anyone want to do that? According to Rhea Farberman, an APA spokesman interviewed by the Chronicle of Higher Education in June, some members worried that the clause (known as Footnote 4) might be used to discriminate against gay and lesbian students. Judith M. Glassgold, a member of the APA's committee on lesbian, gay and bisexual concerns and a visiting faculty member at Rutgers University graduate school of psychology, urged deleting Footnote 4 because "it creates confusion and a perception that it is OK to discriminate against gays and lesbians." The student conduct codes at some evangelical Christian universities (which forbid nonmarital sex), she maintained, were invasive and punitive and ought to be changed.
Well, Professor Glassgold is entitled to her opinions, of course, but is she entitled to make her opinions the law of academia? The wheels seemed greased for dramatic new change, imposing a new uniformity of opinion on religious schools in the name (of course) of diversity.
Enter the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty -- not quite the U.S. Special Forces perhaps -- which conducted a highly sophisticated six-month campaign to persuade the APA that killing Footnote 4 would be a big mistake.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.