Tag Archives: Muslim

Right wing wants religious freedom as long it only includes Christianity

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Recently the religious right and their propaganda arm FOX News complained about NASA reaching out to the Muslim community and Muslim’s wanting to build mosques in the US. The Daily Show had a great segment on their fauxrage.

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Jon: But fox isn’t just concerned with Muslims in space — they are also very concerned with Muslims in mosques.

growing outrage over plans to build more mosques and Islamic centers in America.
Now in rural Tennessee a plan to build a mosque has sparked vandalism and death threats.
There’s Wisconsin, Sheepshead Head Bay, Brooklyn, Staten Island and the mosque at ground zero.
There are a number of people asking why are these mosques being built in my community.

Jon: Oh, oh, I think I know buzz there are Muslims who live in their community. And I guess they can’t find the prayer carpet room in the church or synagogue. Lest this seem like religious prejudice, rest assured it is not. — About building mosques. It is about what goes on inside its mosque.

There’s some people that are afraid. And they are afraid for good reason. Because islamic philosophy and ideology starts in a mosque. Their mission is to spread Islam to be dominant in the united states.

Jon: What? One of tenets of Islam is to spread Islam. That would be like if Christians went places and built churches

Some Christians are so sweet and inclusive

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A recent Best Buy holiday ad that included a nod to the Muslim holiday Eid Al-Adha brought out some comments from the sweet and inclusive Christian community.

Instead of being praised for its inclusiveness, Best Buy is being attacked by some customers who have made their views known on the company’s message board. Some consumers are particularly irked because the home electronics retailer recently announced that it will no longer put “Merry Christmas” in its flyers.

But there seems to be a small and vocal group of Best Buy customers who don’t appreciate the flyer. Some of the colorful customer responses on Best Buy’s message board include (please note that these may not accurately reflect the nature of the holiday Eid Al-Adha):

“Makes sense. Stop saying Christmas because you don’t want to be associated with Jesus, and instead associate yourself with goat sacrifice. Truly noble. I think ill go to Best Buy with a dead goat.”

Or this response:

“Eid is not about “giving to the poor”, etc. It is about sacrifice. I live in a Muslim country and the streets literally run with blood during this holiday. That is not an exaggeration. Yes, they give some of the meat to the poor…but it is all about sacrifice.”

Best Buy Ad’s Mention Of Muslim Holiday Irks Some Customers

Gosh they are so inclusive and sweet – bigots. It amazes me that some Christians are so wimpy about their beliefs that they have to attack any other belief system that isn’t theirs.

Defending the Pope?

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You may want to print and frame this post after you read it. Why?

Because I am about to defend the Pope in his row with Muslims over a speech he gave last week when he quoted a medieval text which had some sharp words about Islam.

Pope Benedict XVI gave a speech at the University of Regensburg, entitled Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections. He did quote the medieval ruler Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus who did describe Islam in less than flattering terms.

What outraged Muslims and others failed to note is the context the quote was used. Like most leaders of the world, the Pope released a text copy of the speech to the press. Here is the offending part:

I was reminded of all this recently, when I read… of part of the dialogue carried on – perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara – by the erudite Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both.

In the seventh conversation…the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the “Book” and the “infidels”, he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. “God,” he says, “is not pleased by blood – and not acting reasonably is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats.”

Key excerpts: The Pope’s speech

Back in medieval times Islam and Christianity tried to convert each other by the sword so maybe the Pope’s mistake is he didn’t mention that fact.

Another blog, by Russell Shaw, pointed out Christians forced other cultures to convert.

After reading Pope Benedict’s apology, I then thought of the predominantly Catholic conquistadors who forcefully invaded the Americas five centuries ago. On horseback, subjugating and plundering the great cultures of the time by means of swords, guns, and perhaps unintentionally- germs as well.

That’s Francisco Pizarro, conqueror of the Incas, at the top of this post.

After the conquests of the Mayas, Incas, Aztecs and so many other wonderous cultures, the priests did the conversions to the church of the time. And while the priests did not carry swords, their actions were facilitated by those who did.

Sadly, a similar process was repeated in North America. Primarily Protestant Europeans came here, stole the land from the Native Americans, subjugated and in some cases destroyed their cultures. And while the missionaries did not carry swords, the ones who paved the way carried swords, guns, and germs. Don’t even get me started on the slave dealers, and slave owners.

Pope Benedict, Now Who Converted Who “By The Sword?”

The point I’m trying to make is that in context of his speech, the Pope was correct in what he was saying “the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable.” Islam shouldn’t get a free pass now. In fact it seems Islam hasn’t give up its violent ways in keeping its faith – noting the churches burned in the West Bank and a nun was murdered in Somalia.

Not that I give the Pope a free pass either even if I don’t agree with the outrage in the Muslim world. I have a problem with this bit of his speech:

In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world’s profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures.

Well, no that isn’t true. To do so would be to elevate religion where it doesn’t deserve to be. It also seems even trying to discuss the history of religion causes a block on a dialogue of cultures.

The time of religion has passed and when people finally come to that conclusion we will all be better off.

Taming the “savages” of Iraq – the Christian way

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While surfing the net today I came across a blog post by David Hilfiker, a physician who has worked in the inner city of Washington DC and currently is Finance Director for Joseph’s House, a ten-bed home and community for formerly homeless men with AIDS.

In is essay, Onward Christian Organizers, he complains that all Christians get lumped in with the Religious Right as if they all are conservative and hate gays. Hilfiker says he is a Christian and a leftist and that many Christian groups help people. He says they take on social problems like AIDS and the poor. He says they do it not to proselytize but to get closer to Jesus and His teachings.

I don’t have much in common with Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Jr, or Cesar Chavez, except this: We all are (or were) Christian, and we’ve each spent much of our adult lives in the trenches of the movement for peace and justice. Most of those who have gone to prison for long sentences for hammering on nuclear warheads, or stopping nuclear trains, or crossing the line at military bases have been Christians, and they have often submitted to those long sentences because they believed their faith gave them no other option and would sustain them in the dark months of prison.

Onward Christian Organizers

Among the Christian charity work he mentions is the work of the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in Iraq who documented abuses of detainees before anyone ever heard of Abu Ghraib. Four members of CPT were kidnapped while working in Iraq.

I agree with Hilfiker that we shouldn’t paint with a wide brush and in my blog I make an extra effort not to do so, but his essay brings up an interesting point.

Missionaries have always followed the military into newly conquered areas. History is littered with the carcasses of stamped out religions and culture in the name of the Christian God.

While some groups like CPT aren’t there in Iraq to convert Muslims, other groups did move in, frothing at the mouth to convert the evil ones to Jesus.

An article, from 2003, in the Christian Science Monitor pointed out some of the issues concerning Iraq:

Iraq is particularly volatile, because it has just emerged from a dictatorship and is under military occupation. And those planning to proselytize are known in the region: the former leader of the Southern Baptist Convention has called the prophet Muhammad a “demon-possessed pedophile,” and Mr. Graham, head of Samaritan’s Purse, has termed Islam “an evil religion.”

Their remarks flew across the Muslim world with such effect that a group of Baptist missionaries working in 10 predominantly Muslim countries sent a letter home calling for restraint and saying such comments “heighten animosity toward Christians,” affecting their work and personal safety.

Graham’s close ties to the administration – he gave the prayer at Mr. Bush’s inauguration and is invited to give the Good Friday prayer at the Pentagon – give Muslims the impression, some say, that evangelization efforts are part of US plans to shape Iraqi society in a Western image.

and

During the first Gulf war, Franklin Graham sent thousands of Arabic-language New Testaments to US troops in Saudi Arabia to pass along to local people. This violated Saudi law and an agreement between the two governments that there would be no proselytizing. When Gen. Norman Swarzkopf had a chaplain call Graham to complain, Graham said he was under higher orders. He later told Newsday, however, that had he been explicitly asked, he would have desisted.

A greater concern of some people is that the administration may in fact support the effort, given the president’s beliefs and the import of conservative Christians as a political constituency.

A crusade after all? (4/13/2003)

After some missionaries were killed and 21 churches were bombed, foreign missionaries left Iraq.

Many evangelicals in the West think that places like Iraq are 100% Muslim and that is not the case. Just like in the flash point of Jerusalem, Iraq has a large Christian population and until the foreign evangelicals arrived they had a harmonious relationship with Iraq Muslim community. The reason being that each agreed not to proselytize to the other.

Some Iraqi Christians expressed fear that the evangelicals would undermine Christian-Muslim harmony here, which rests on a long-standing, tacit agreement not to proselytize each other. “There is an informal agreement that says we have nothing to do with your religion and faith,” said Yonadam Kanna, one of six Christians elected to Iraq’s parliament. “We are brothers but we don’t interfere in your religion.”

Delly said that “even if a Muslim comes to me and said, ‘I want to be Christian,’ I would not accept. I would tell him to go back and try to be a good Muslim and God will accept you.” Trying to convert Muslims to Christianity, he added, “is not acceptable.”

Sheik Fatih Kashif Ghitaa, a prominent Shiite Muslim leader in Baghdad, was among those who expressed alarm at the postwar influx of foreign missionaries. In a recent interview, he said he feared that Muslims misunderstand why many Christians talk about their faith.

“They have to talk about Jesus and what Jesus has done. This is one of the principles of believing in Christianity,” said Ghitaa. “But the problem is that the others don’t understand it, they think these people are coming to convert them.”

Evangelicals Building a Base in Iraq (6/23/2005)

But some Western evangelicals don’t get it:

Robert Fetherlin, vice president for international ministries at Colorado-based Christian and Missionary Alliance, which supports one of the new Baghdad evangelical churches, defended his denomination’s overseas work.

“We’re not trying to coerce people to follow Christ,” he said. “But we want to at least communicate to people who He is. We feel very encouraged by the possibility for people in Iraq to have the freedom to make choices about what belief system they want to buy into.”

Sara said that if Muslims approach him with “questions about Jesus and about the Bible,” he responds. But the white-haired pastor said there was plenty of evangelizing to be done among Christians because, in his view, many do not really know Jesus. “They know [Him] just in name,” he said, adding that they need a better understanding of “why He died for them.”

His church appeals to dissatisfied Christians, he said, adding, “If you go to a Catholic church, for example, there is no Bible in the church, there is no preaching, and just a little singing.”