Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Threat of Islam / The Power of Prayer

Jonna says:

A recent contribution to the Saturday Forum really set me off.

A local pastor had his say about "the threat of Islam," joining the hordes who claim violence is inherent in Islam, and of course presenting Christianity as the peaceful alternative. To do so, you must turn a blind eye to the history of Christianity which includes every bit as much violence as Islam. The Christian's defense I've heard so often - "we got better" - just doesn't fly with me. It took many, many years of discord and virulent discourse for the Church to "get better," and it's still got a way to go, obviously. There's still much hatred spewed from fundamentalist pulpits in 2009. There's now every indication that Islam going through the same process of "getting better", too. There are many liberal voices in the Muslim community these days, urging everything from peaceful co-existence to women's rights. Why aren't we listening to and broadcasting those voices? Why aren't columns written to praise and encourage those who want to see Islam go through its own reformation? 

The Reverend stated "the goal of Islam is to see every nation become Islamic" without once acknoweldging that it is also the goal of Christianity to see every nation a Christian nation - the "every knee shall bow" mentality that sends missionaries out to every nation on the planet, no matter what kind of havoc the "conversion" wreaks on the variety of cultures and societies that have existed peacefully for hundreds of years. Most Christians I've talked to about this are 100% behind Christian missionary work because they believe they're serving the right God and saving the souls of those they reach. Guess what, Muslims believe the same thing.

The Reverend also took to task a few Islamic doctrines that he says Christians have a hard time dealing with, among them the doctrine of waqf, which he explains as "territory that was Islamic is forever Islamic, even if non-Muslims temporarily regained it. This is why the Islamic world will not leave Israel alone in peace. Centuries ago Muslims controlled Israel. That changed in 1948 when Israel become a sovereign state." I find the problem stated very clearly in his statement, except it's not just a Muslim problem. If you follow his line of thinking, Judaism has the same waqf mentality, since Israel is asserting its right to the land every bit as much as Palestine is. And I guess this "Christian nation" shares it as well since we overwhelmingly support Israel in its "defense" against those who would attempt to "regain" control of it.  As the saying goes, it takes two to tango. 

Another doctrine the Reverend has a problem with what he calls the Muslim's "love of death" which he attributes to the promise of virgins in the afterlife. Of course, he fails to see what is staring him in the face. Isn't this so-called "love of death" much like a good Christian's lack of fear of death, which is of course also based on a promise of rewards in the afterlife.

Most interesting, however, is the way the Reverend starts and ends his column, stating unequivocally that "War is a great evil. Only wicked and perverse people love war," quickly followed by the curious reversal of "I do not disapprove of war," and ending the column with "I personally opposed both wars because I don't believe that there is a reasonable hope of success in either of them...Having served in the Armed Services myself, I support appropriate military engagement in a just war." Wow, double-speak at its worst, wouldn't you say? Must be a struggle to preach the love of Christ with that kind of cognitive dissonance.

And then this past week, the same Reverend wrote about the National Day of Prayer, extolling the virtue and power of prayer in difficult times. He wrote "God can and will preserve our nation from another diabolical attack or disease such as 9/11 and the swine flu, which causes so much perpetual pain, death, grief, bitterness, hurt, and anger. We must continue to pray as a nation earnestly and intently. Pray for unity, which tragedy can bring. That unity would remain and increase. Our nation must turn God-ward and stay focused on him, realizing he's the one and only hope to guide us through crisis and the time of calm. As a nation we must practice prayer and reach out to God as a daily decision in our lives. These are issues that really matter."

The previous column was screaming in my head as I read the latter. Unity? I believe his words of unity and turning God-ward are code telling fellow Christians to stand against those he condemned in his earlier column. If I were a believer in this God the Reverend prays to, I think I would worry more that God might punish this country for its un-Christian response to 9/11, taking our "shock and awe" war into a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, a war the Reverend has somehow decided to support as a just war. I would think God would be a mite upset about so many Americans heaping hatred and prejudice on much of the Islamic community everywhere. I know I would find it hard to believe that God would listen to the prayers of a Reverend who goes out of his way to promote that kind of prejudice and glorification of war in his local newspaper.

We should be encouraging all religions to continue to evolve, embracing compassion, understanding of each other, and acceptance of other religious beliefs, not building resentment and separation. You would think a Reverend would know that better than anyone else.

You can find the Reverend's columns at:


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