Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Question to Muslims

I have revised my article, Muslims or Mohammadeans, because of some renewed interest in it, by adding documentation to many of the statements. I'm interested in what you think about it, especially if you are a Muslim.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Operation United Front


(Andrew Bostom, Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller)


It was bound to happen. Anders Breivik set off a bomb in Oslo and then killed nearly seventy young people at a political retreat and the mainstream media (CNN, BBC, ad nauseum) have now discovered the greatest threat to peace, democracy and human rights on the plant. And the answer is...wait for it...wait for it...

Conservative Christians and anti-jihadist bloggers. They discovered that - gasp - in the 1500 page manifesto that Breivik uploaded before he went on his terror spree there are references to Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller (noted anti-jihadist bloggers, authors and speakers), Mark Steyn (conservative columnist and radio personality), and others. Basically, it works like this: Because they and others have pointed out the link between Islamic terrorism and Islam, they are guilty of inciting violence. It's a little like blaming an abused wife for reporting her husband by saying that she "asked for it" by her complaining. Nice.

The problem is the anti-jihadist movement is a movement of non-violence campaigning against violence. No mainstream anti-jihadist supports, explicitly or implicitly, violence against Muslims or others, except in unavoidable self-defense and by lawful governments taking lawful actions against unlawful combatants. In other words, none of us are complaining about bin Laden's demise at the hand of Seal Team Six.

All of the alleged "Christian terrorists" are actually non-Christians that the Left are trying to baptize after the fact. Tim McVeigh was a non-Christian white supremist. Jared Loughner was a non-Christian who read Mein Kampf and the Communist Manifesto. Anders Breivik is a "cultural Christian" who explicitly rejects the key tenets of Christianity. No Christians, no Jews, all of the terrorists are atheists and Muslims (mostly and overwhelmingly, Muslims). Loughner was a big fan of children's literature (Lewis Carroll). I wonder what THAT means?

Particularly galling to Muslims and the Left is the initial reporting that the Oslo and youth camp attacks were the work of jihadists. To the Left this is just more evidence of the Right's hatred and incitement against Muslims. I wonder why the anti-jihadists suspected Muslims? Maybe it was that an Islamic terrorist organization took responsibility, or maybe it was that Muslims took to the streets in celebration, or perhaps it was just that Muslims have committed over 17,000 acts of terror since 9/11? Christians and Jews? Zilch. Hmmmm.

With all that said, I stand with Zilla in the United Front of Resistance in support of Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, the Gates of Vienna, and other bloggers seeking to make the world aware of the darkness and violence of Islam. The Gospel of Jesus Christ compels me to do so in order to protect children and women and resist the lies of the false prophet Muhammed.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Missions and Heresy: A Short Video on the Insider Movement

This is a video which explains the challenge facing Christian missions in the Islamic world today. Many evangelicals have been captivated by a missions heresy which teaches Muslims to stay in the mosque and that Mohammed is a prophet of God. Several MAJOR evangelical organizations have bought into this.

Church Takes Stand on IM & JIQ from Mark Stephan on Vimeo.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Oslo, Norway 2011 - What a Difference a Savior Makes


In keeping with the principle that early reports of tragedies are almost always riddled with inaccuracies, the Oslo terror attack and the massacre of youth at the island retreat in Norway continue to get stranger and more horrific. It turns out, to the shock even of Muslims, that the bombing and massacre are probably NOT the work of a Islamic terrorist organization, but instead the work of a lone non-Muslim, Anders Behring Breivik. Breivik seems not only to not be a Muslim, but a right-wing anti-islamist radical who MIGHT consider himself a Christian.

First, the qualifiers before the commentary.

It is telling that even Muslims thought that this was the work of Islamic terrorists. Muslims have been planning and plotting to attack Norway since the publication of the "Mo-toons" in accordance with Sharia (which affords Mohammed more honor than Allah). So jubilant criticisms of anti-jihadists are pretty empty, like this tool on JihadWatch.

JihadWatch has reported that this guy tried to join a huge Facebook group "Stop the Islamisation of Europe" but was rejected because he had neo-Nazi material on his FB page. Do you think that ANY prominent Muslim group is as scrupulous as that? Not a chance. That apparently hasn't stopped the media from trying to blame the same anti-jihadists who rejected the guy.

There's some reported that Breivik is a Christian, but Pamela Geller at Atlas Shrugs (love that woman!) has found evidence that the identifiers "Christian" and "Conservative" were added AFTER THE ATTACKS. I wonder why someone would do that?

There is no mainstream Christian group or group of any size which advocates violence. There is no conservative group connected with the anti-jihad movement which advocates violence, even obliquely.

Here's the commentary.

When Muslims commit acts of violence, Islamo-apologists always turn the conversation to "intolerance" of Muslims or "offenses" against Islam as the cause. Islam is the most blame-shifting religion on the planet. Every time a Muslim commits an act of violence, it is someone else's fault, the Christians, the Jews, Israel, poverty, name-calling, ANYTHING but the offender and Islam.

Breivik is SOLELY responsible for his actions. It doesn't matter if a Muslim blew up his church or raped his sister, NOTHING excuses or causes his actions. He is to blame and anyone who directly helped or encouraged him is to blame as well. This is NOT the Muslims' or the Liberals' fault. I do not blame them, none of us do. You will not hear Robert Spencer or Wafa Sultan blaming this on anyone except the perpetrator. Christianity and Judaism (and the worldviews they spin off) are religions of personal responsibility and accountability.

If this killer actually calls himself a Christian, and he probably doesn't, he is an apostate from Christ and destined for hell and eternal punishment after he receives justice from Norway. Breivik cannot be a Christian and an unrepentant murderer or terrorist. There is no place for offensive violence in Christianity. Christians are not allowed to commit murder because of offenses against their religion. When Jesus said, "Love your neighbor," he meant everyone, not just Christians or fellow conservatives. Unlike Islam, I might add.

Christians, even Christians who believe that violence is appropriate in defending live, do not believe that anyone can act as judge, jury and executioner. Only a lawful government can wage war, and even then it must be a just war. Only a court can convict, and then only after a lawful proceeding. Only a magistrate can bring punishment after a lawful proceeding. And even then, it is outside of the responsibility of the magistrates to compel people to adhere to religious tenets. The magistrate can jail someone for burning a church, but not for criticizing Christianity or Jesus.

But even all of this leaves a question. If Breivik really was a Neo-Nazi who hated Muslims, why did he attack a government building? And if he hated the government, why did he attack a bunch of teens at a retreat, even if the retreat was sponsored by a Liberal government? The answer is that hate destroys reason. Whether the hate is in the heart of a jihadist or a neo-Nazi, it has a corrupting and terrible influence on the mind and heart. If the root of bitterness grows it hardens the heart and represses what makes us human, an innate sense of righteousness which restrains us from evil. In the guise of "battling evil," a person can himself become evil.

Does this mean that we should not expose Islam because it might "radicalize" a non-Muslim to violence? If so, then we should also not report on the Norway massacres because it might "radicalize" a liberal or a Muslim. Denial may be the way of the modern world, but it never works. The only ultimate escape is to condemn the violence and transcend the hate. This is what the "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" has discovered in South Africa. And while I know that there are plenty of Christians who are able to reject hate, it is the common grace of God which enables. When Ghandi said, "Hate the sin but love the sinner," he was quoting Augustine.

It isn't denial of the evil of Islam that will save us, but a recognition of sin and compassion for the sinner. Muslims need the same thing that the Oslo terrorist does, the forgiveness and renewal of Christ.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New Tobacco Shipment

Here's my latest shipment of pipeweed. All four of these are untried by my inexperienced palate. I wonder if there are any smokers out there with opinions or recollections about these blends. Comments?

Video Confirms Islam's Civilizing Influence



Not really, it actually confirms that Islam makes people angry, vulgar (in the pejorative sense of the world), aggressive and dishonest. This is a video of an apparently Muslim Background Believer (MBB) preaching at an "Arab festival" in Dearborn, Michigan. The crowd becomes more aggressive throughout the video, increasingly trying to shout the preacher down with tones that sound like they're trying to start a fight. There is quite a bit of screaming and f-bombing and the Muslim bystanders are stealing from the preacher's backpack as he's trying to engage them.

A few thoughts:

This preacher is an amazing guy. He loves Jesus and it shows. He doesn't love his life so much as to shrink back from death (Rev. 12:11). He also loves these people who are hating him, never responding in kind to their anger and abuse.

The foul language (with all of the rest of the abuse) is telling, not because he's getting abused in that way (which happens to street preachers all of the time), but because he's being abused in that way IN THE NAME OF ISLAM. This is obscene religious abuse. In Islam there is no real holiness; don't let the burkha thing fool you - it's not about holiness, it's about power. Remember that bin Laden was killed with porn under his bed. Mohammed was a vulgar and profane man who lived to satisfy and justify his urges. This is real Islam. This is why Jihad Watch can publish a piece where a prominent Imam can tell his followers that it is more important that they be strong and aggressive than holy.

They are openly stealing from him because it is not stealing to steal from an infidel. Mohammed was a thief and a brigand who justified his thievery with religion. This is part of a Muslim worldview. There is no love of neighbor in Islam. There is no real equivalent to the Golden Rule.

Kudos to the young Muslim who did his best to protect the preacher. He proves the rule, There are moderate Muslims, just no moderate Islam. He wasn't being a good Muslim, but thankfully he was being a good man.

Huge hat tip to Robert Spencer and Jihad Watch for posting this. Credits to David Wood at AnsweringMuslims.com for the video itself.

And today I smoked a vanilla mixture called "Moontrance" just because it isn't that bad and I just can't give ALL my tobacco to my good friend Bob, which is where half of it ends up when I can't smoke it. And I can smoke Moontrance, it's just embarrassing and not terribly good.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Liberty for Marijuana


Jihad Watch and the Drudge Report have recently reported that Newark International Airport has finally seen the light and begun profiling. As Israel has known for decades, it just isn't possible to look for bombs and weapons in all of those bags - the bags all look alike. Israel knows what everyone should be paying attention to, it's easier and more effective to look for terrorists than to look for bombs. And so Newark has begun profiling...wait for it...wait for it...Mexicans.

Now I know you're asking, "Are Mexicans the new crest of terrorism?" Is a Mexican going to blow himself up in a busy shopping mall while screaming, "Dios es grande!"? No, not at all. We're still safe from the Mexicans [sign at protest on illegal immigrant crackdown "We didn't bomb the World Trade Center - We built the World Trade Center"]. TSA isn't looking for terrorists, they're looking for drugs.

Of course the first question that you might ask yourself is "Why aren't they profiling Arab men between 16 and 36?" Good question. TSA, in part of its insane sets of regulations, allegedly even has standards which forbid screeners from pulling more than two Muslims out of line for secondary screening (which would mean that half of the 9/11 hijackers would have gotten through). But the really sobering question is this, "Is the drug war important enough to you that you are willing to give p your liberty?"

Remember, we conceded to this whole mess of invasive practices to keep 9/11 from happening again. While I oppose drug legalization, would you really give up your liberty to stop someone from doing a line of coke or smoking some pot.

Read it all here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Presbyterians Take Action Against Islamic-Christian Syncretism

The Presbyterian Church in America, the largest evangelical Presbyterian denomination in the US took action last week against the "Insider Movement," a missions trend which encourages Muslims to "love Jesus" and "be good Muslims." While there was debate on how far to go in investigating the heresy, there was little hesitation in condemning the movement in principle and condemning Bible translations which remove references to God as "Father" and Jesus as "Son." The denomination adopted a resolution condemning the Insider Movement and erected a study committee to investigate exactly what is happening in the mission field.

A pastor involved with passing the resolution blogged extensively on the subject here. His short explanation of the Insider Movement from an evangelical perspective is here. Below is the text of the resolution (italics are mine):

A Call To Faithful Witness

Approved By The 39th General Assembly
Of The Presbyterian Church In America
June 10, 2011


Whereas; the Church is called to take the gospel to all peoples, including those who have historically been resistant to the gospel;

Whereas; contextualizing the language and forms of the gospel, while remaining faithful to the truths of Scripture, is good and necessary for the advancement of the gospel;

Whereas; the Church must exercise wisdom in discerning appropriate expressions of contextualization, reserving its public corrections for genuine and substantive threats to the gospel;

Whereas; in recent initiatives known as “Insider Movements”, some groups have produced Bible translations that have replaced references to Jesus as “Son” (huios) with terms such as “Messiah” in order to be more acceptable to Muslims;

Whereas; some Bible translations of Insider Movements have replaced references to God as “Father” (pater) with terms such as “Guardian” and “Lord”;

Whereas; these Bible translations are harmful to the doctrines of the authority of Scripture and the deity of Christ, bringing confusion to people in need of Christ—concerns that are held by many national leaders and Bible societies;

Whereas; some PCA churches have knowingly or unknowingly financially supported these Bible translations;

Whereas; Muslims should not be denied a full and faithful witness;

Therefore be it resolved that the 39th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America:

• Affirms that biblical motivations of all those who seek to share the good news of Jesus Christ with those who have never heard or responded to the gospel should be encouraged;

• Repents of complacency or comfort that keep us from a faithful witness;

Declares as unfaithful to God’s revealed Word, Insider Movement or any other translations of the Bible that remove from the text references to God as “Father” (pater) or Jesus as “Son” (huios), because such removals compromise doctrines of the Trinity, the person and work of Jesus Christ, and Scripture;

Encourages PCA congregations to assess whether the missionaries and agencies they support use or promote Bible translations that remove familial language in reference to persons of the Trinity, and if so, to pursue correction, and failing that, to withdraw their support;

• Encourages PCA congregations to support biblically sound and appropriately contextualized efforts to see Christ’s Church established among resistant peoples;

• Calls PCA churches and agencies to collaborate with each other and the broader Church to discern and implement biblical authority in gospel contextualization.

• Authorizes the Moderator, as an aid to greater gospel faithfulness throughout the PCA and the broader Church, to appoint a study committee to report to the 40th General Assembly concerning Insider Movements, including but not limited to:
o A summary and biblical assessment of Insider Movements’ history, philosophies, and practices;
o A biblical response to interpretations of Scripture used in defense of Insider Movements;
o An examination of the theological impact of removing familial language for the Trinity from Bible translations;
o An assessment of PCA missions partners regarding the influence of Insider Movement within them, including assessment of their theology of religion, ecclesiology, Scripture, and relationship to the Emergent Church;
o An explanation of the relevance and importance of this issue for the PCA;
o Suggestions for identifying and assessing the influence of Insider Movements among mission agencies, missionaries and organizations;
o Recommended resources for faithfully training and equipping congregations to reach Muslims locally and internationally.

• Set the budget for the study committee at $15,000/year and that funds be derived from gifts to the AC designated for that purpose.

Rationale:

The Committee is convinced this critical issue for the global church strikes at the vitals of religion. However, the lack of sufficient analytical, biblical, and theological resources from a Reformed perspective, compels us to ask for a study committee to produce a cogent report for our churches.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Golden Extra & Fetal Emotions

I thought I'd combine more things that don't belong together for this post (keeping with the tradition of the last post). Today it's pipe tobacco and the abortion controversy. These things go together because a pipe smoking man should be a thinking man. Pipe smoking by its nature gives us time to think, almost requires it. This means that a pipe smoking Christian should be a thinking Christian, one who takes seriously the Lord's injunction to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and MIND. Matthew 22:37

Since a fine tobacco is conducive to strong Christian thinking, we continue our search for the perfect tobaccos for godly rumination. Today, I'd like to review two: Mac Baren's "Golden Extra" and Savenelli's "English Mixture."

Golden Extra - This is another very highly rated and praised tobacco. It is a Burley tobacco, which is grown mainly in Kentucky, is air cured, and most commonly used for cigarettes. I have to say that I was a little disappointed in this blend, which is often described as "sweet."

Pros - The blend lights easily and burns well. I didn't have a problem keeping it lit. It didn't bite my tongue or start to taste bitter as I worked down through the bowl. The nicotine was about medium level, about the same as Irish Oak. It reminded me of a cigar, and not a cheap one.

Cons - It tasted like a cigar. I think the "room note," how it smells to others, was unpleasant. That being said, I didn't have the cigar taste in my mouth the next morning. I give this one 3/5 stars.

English Mixture - This is an English Blend, a type of tobacco which has no additives. This doesn't mean that it doesn't have flavor, but flavoring is achieved by adding smoky latakia and/or spicy oriental tobaccos. Many pipe smokers move from aromatic tobaccos (cherry, vanilla, bourbon, etc.) to English blends.

Pros - Nice taste, definitely has a strong dose of latakia. The nicotine content is not too strong and the tongue bite is not bad. A fair tasting tobacco. The room note seems pleasant enough.

Cons - There is a little bit of bitterness which seems to creep in as I worked through the bowl. Doesn't burn as well as some - more relighting. It's not Old Dublin. I give this one 4/5 stars.

I was responding to a fellow today who commented on a FB page by asking if science had proven that fetuses were "sentient" as a way of supporting abortion "rights." I'm not sure how we was defining the term "sentient," but a common way to use the term is in distinction to "thinking/reasoning." Humans are reasoning and sentient, animals are (mostly) non-reasoning and sentient. As the (current) writer for the Wikipedia article states, sentience is part of the argument for animal rights - we shouldn't torture things which can feel.

Abortion advocates wish to deny that unborn children have the capacity to feel that animals have. The great problem with such a position is that the age of fetal viability keeps getting pushed back further and further. Babies can survive before 23 weeks of gestation, a time at which many are aborted. If a baby can be born and survive, do we really wish to argue that the baby is less than an animal until it passes some point months later?

Well, there's always someone willing to make an argument for evil, and some doctors and researchers have done just that. Stuart Derbyshire, a senior lecturer in psychology has written a much cited paper claiming that fetuses cannot feel pain for several reasons. 1) The fetus cannot report pain, therefore we cannot assume that the fetus feels pain. 2) The fetus cannot talk, therefore it doetsn't have the ability to process pain cognitively. 3) A fetus cannot have experienced the data needed to develop the framework for objective thought to process pain.

I am summarizing his arguments and he couches it in all sorts of technical language. The basic argument is that since pre-born babies can't feel pain by definition, they can't feel pain. Since they can't tell us that they don't feel pain, they don't feel pain. Does this work for you? This kind of reasoning would give scientists the ethical permission to use a severely retarded person in unlimited medical experiments. Not that anyone has ever done that - oh no, wait...they have.

Monday, May 23, 2011

bin Laden & Old Dublin


I really should write a post on Bin Laden and porn, but haven't been able to care enough yet. I just keep thinking, "Of course." The 9/11 hijackers spent the night before drinking and watching strippers and Bin Laden lectured America on its decadence while keeping porn under his bed. The guy had four wives - with him. Islam locates male sexual sin in the woman. If the wife just puts out enough, if he just has enough wives, if all the other women would just cover themselves from head to toe - then the Islamic man will be ok. And of course, then one day he'll go to paradise and get to deflower 72 virgins for eternity. Islam is a sex disease masquerading as a religion.

Anyway, three pipe tobaccos I've tried recently -

Peterson's Old Dublin
Peterson's Irish Oak
Dunhill's Royal Yacht

Royal Yacht is a very highly rated and popular tobacco. It is a strong Burley tobacco cured with raisins and molasses. Maybe I should have opened the tin and dumped it in a jar or just opened the tin and let it air out. It seems that a lot of guys do that sort of thing to age the tobacco and it often gets better. I just couldn't stand it. It didn't taste great and it was very heavy in nicotine. The taste was strong and unpleasant and the nicotine was strong and unpleasant. A lot of people remark on the nicotine. My neighbor, a new pipe smoker, loves it. So I gave it to him. 2/5 (Bob likes it and it smelled good in the tin)

Irish Oak is another popular tobacco made primarily from Virginia with some Cavendish and Perique. They age it in oak barrels for the distinctive taste. It is also a stronger tobacco, but nowhere as strong as Royal Yacht. I grown to like (not love) the taste. I wonder if I'm just getting used to it or whether it is benefiting from being open a while. It burns cool and fairly fast. I find that sometimes I actually want this tobacco blend over others. I don't know if that's because I'm craving a Virginia or it's this blend specifically. Right now I'd definitely buy it again. 4/5

Old Dublin is my favorite. I read a reviewer remark that if he could only smoke one blend, it'd be Old Dublin. So far I agree. It is a heavily Latikia blend. It smells and tastes smoky, like a campfire. It burns well and cool. The nicotine is light. It doesn't bite my tongue. It is everything I wanted a pipe tobacco to be but didn't know it. I'm ordering a whole sleeve next month. 5/5

Good bye Osama bin Laden.

Best News in a Long Time - Or, How Not to Get Prostate Cancer

Over the last two weeks I've learned a little bit about prostate cancer, a nasty disease that so many men over 50 seem to get. The problem with prostate cancer is 1) it can kill you, and 2) they treat it by pulling your prostate, which [can, see comments] end your sex life. Not good.

Well, it turns out that the way you avoid having prostate cancer isn't what you might think. Exercise? Doesn't matter. Diet? It might have a very small impact, but they're not sure if you should avoid red meat or eat more fruit and vegetables. Since men who eat lots of red meat tend to avoid fresh fruit and vegetables, it's hard to tell. Smoking? It might matter a very little bit (which I take to mean that if you don't smoke very much it doesn't matter - whew!).

What does matter? It turns out three things. First, get yourself born into a family with no history of prostate cancer (check). Turns out that there's a strong genetic link. Second, drink a lot of coffee. Men who drink three cups a day are 15% less likely to develop the deadly form of prostate cancer (there's a less deadly form?). If you drink six cups a day (caf or decaf) your risk is 30% lower. Third, have LOTS of sex. Men who have sex 14 times a month have 15% lower incidence and those who have sex 21 times a month have a 30% lower incidence. This is all very good news indeed.

I haven't researched this one lately, but I do notice that there's been a recent study showing that the PSA test has NO effect on mortality. I have read somewhere that many prostectomies are unnecessary. The PSA might be zero help in keeping you from dying and lots of help in ending your sex life. Doctors often work like that. If they leave it in, you could die from cancer (and sue them). If they take it out, you won't get prostate cancer, so the operation worked - even if you would never have died from prostate cancer anyway.

I guess bin Laden was pretty safe from prostate cancer, just not safe from a bullet to the head.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Geert Wilders Gives Politically Prophetic Speech in Nashville


Jihad Watch has posted the recent speech by Geert Wilders in Nashville, Tennessee. It makes me ill that a European politician has to come here to remind us of the preciousness of freedom, especially the freedom of speech and religion. But there it is and I can only pray that Holland will be able to turn the tide before all of the Jews have to leave and the United States will wake up before we end up with a dual system of law (one for Muslims and the other for the rest) and de facto blasphemy laws under the guise of protection from "hate crimes."

A Warning to America
Speech of Geert Wilders, Cornerstone Church, Nashville, 12 May 2011

Dear friends from Tennessee. I am very happy to be in your midst today. I am happy and proud to be in this impressive church.

My friends, I am here to speak words of truth and freedom.

Do you know why America is in a better state than Europe? Because you enjoy more freedom than Europeans.

And do you know why Americans enjoy more freedom than Europeans? Because you are still allowed to tell the truth.

In Europe and Canada people are dragged to court for telling the truth about islam.

I, too, have been dragged to court. I am an elected member of the house of representatives in the Netherlands. I am currently standing in court like a common criminal for saying that islam is a dangerous totalitarian ideology rather than a religion.

Read it all here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Favorite Pipe


My first pipe was a simple clay pipe I piked up in Philly at the Liberty Bell gift shop. I still have it. Two other pipes had some promise but bit the dust disappointingly soon. The first was a no-name Italian briar which quickly cracked after it overheated. The second was a pretty Rohan pipe. Its stem broke off in the briar.

I got this Erik Nording churchwarden from Milan Tobacco for Christmas. It is wonderful. It smokes well and pretty cool. It is beautiful and does not heat up too quickly. I will probably buy more Nording pipes.

Health issues aside, pipe smoking has given me more quiet contemplative time, a great excuse for spending non-scripted time with friends and I've been reading more Scripture than I have been for a long time.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter


Christos Anesti! Christ is Risen!

While Abraham, King David, Mohammed and Buddha all lie in their graves awaiting the judgement of the wicked and the just, Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and sits at the right hand of the Father. He will come again with glory.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Things I Like About Arab Culture

A missionary friend of mine often tells Christians of a conversation he had with a Muslim in Morocco. The man said, "Some missionaries hate Islam and some missionaries love Muslims. You are a good man. You love Muslims." The point is a pretty simple one: Don't get caught up in attacking Islam when you should be loving Muslims and winning them to Christ. Even though I get it and I'm all for winning Muslims to Christ, I have to say that I hate Islam and love Muslims.

I hate the religion that denies the truth of Christian Scripture and turns the Gospel of Love into a message of violence and hate.
I hate any religion that encourages men to beat women or otherwise demean them.
I hate the religion that is responsible for killing more of my brothers and sisters than any other ideology in the world.
I hate the religion that is the world's leading promoter of slavery.
I hate the religion that encourages sex with children.
I hate the religion that hates dogs.

But I don't hate Arabs or everything Arab.

I love Arab hospitality. Arabs can be some of the most personally welcoming people in the world. If you've never been around Arabs, you'll never fully get the story of the Levite and his concubine in Judges. Arabs are so welcoming they can trap you with hospitality.

I love Arab food. Arabs, Persians and Turks are the masters of the world when it comes to meat. They make Westerners look like barbarians with their meat skills. You've never had truly tender meat unless you've eaten Middle Eastern food. And the rice! The rice is to die for. I've read that it takes Persian women years to cook rice well. I believe it because I've tried it. It's hard to reproduce.

I love Arab music, at least the music that hasn't been stomped out by Islam.

I love the desert. There is something intoxicating about the desert. Especially at night. The desert comes alive at night. I love how sound travels at night in the desert. I have a dry land farm in West Texas. The desert reminds me of my farm.

I love smoking. I can leave the cigarettes, but hookahs are the bomb (not in the terrorist sense). Any culture that has hookahs has something big going for it.

Antiquity. I love that Middle Eastern cultures are old. I love that people stop at oases that have been used for hundreds of years. I love that Damascus has streets which are named in the Bible, and still exist. I love that old is measured in thousands of years.

I love the Arab sense of time. I love the lack of hurriedness that I find in most Arab places. Arabs have the ability to just be when westerners get caught up in doing.

It's not Arabs I hate, it's just Islam.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Security, Immigration and Justice

This is an article I wrote over five years ago concerning the immigration debate and House Bill 4437. While the circumstances have changed, the biblical and philosophical principles remain valid. Some of these principles should be thought through by Christians in relation to Muslim immigration to the United States. House Bill 4437 was the GOP House response to President Bush's proposal to create a guest worker program in the United States. Provisions in the bill created a rare wave of criticism from the Church, especially the Roman Catholic Church.

One of the reasons I am reposting this is that many people don't understand that the Gospel speaks both to personal behavior (how we treat aliens and strangers) and political policy (what kind of laws we enact). But the Gospel speaks to these things in different ways. The individual Christian and the Church have a call to incarnate Christ to the alien and stranger. The State has the responsibility to protect and govern its citizens justly. The State has a mandate to protect its citizens from stealth jihad. But if the State takes actions or institutes policies which destabilize another country and create a situation where a minority becomes persecuted, the State would be responsible to protect or even receive the victims it created.

Here is the (long) article, with a few updates:

At the risk of beating on a dead horse, I’m writing again on the topic of immigration, this time to address a specific piece of legislation, House Resolution 4437. HR 4437 is most likely dead in the water, as it seems the United States Senate will never pass it. So why would I take time to talk about it at all?

There are lots of reasons. While this specific bill may be dead, the ideas driving the bill are very much alive. And issues of justice are the major theme of the prophetic books in the Bible. While some groups of Christians effectively jettison over two thirds of the Bible from their lives, this is a terrible mistake. God hasn’t changed. He still is concerned for the poor and powerless. Jesus’ sermon in Matthew 25 ("The Sheep and the Goats") declares that those who have no ministry to the poor and powerless will be sentenced to eternal death. [2011 Update: See also Leviticus 19:34, et al.]

HR 4437 also effects many Christians (an "illegal alien" is more likely to be an evangelical Christian than a narco-killer), and Christians should think through how to respond to these kind of things, both as affected people and ministers to affected people. [2011 Update: Still, most terrorists will come to our country by legal means or through our Canadian border, not walk through the Sonoran desert. This bill never was going to have a great impact on National Security.]

While much of the Christian right has lined up behind the anti-immigration movement (I’ve been receiving anti-immigrant emails from the American Family Association, apparently a completely separate organization than the Mexican Family Association), the issues for Christians are not as simple as many political statements. Whenever the Church lines up completely with a political party, either the party or the Church has become an idol. The Church can never line up completely with a political party (and never should try) because the Church has as its calling the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Political parties have as their calling the advancement and improvement of the Kingdom of this world. And "friendship with the world is enmity with God."

I hope you caught that. The Church and the State both have legitimate obligations. But often those obligations compete. If the State gives up her obligations to support the mission of the Church, she is irresponsible, and the Church becomes polluted. If the Church gives up her obligations and becomes a pawn of the State or a Party, then she is a whore. Christians should strive to be good citizens inasmuch as doing so does not compromise the mission of the Gospel. The State should attempt to be friendly to the Church inasmuch as she can do so without becoming the Church.

At no time in my recent memory has a clearer example of this arisen than the recent immigration controversy. I know that some of you might protest that the abortion debate is more weighty, but in the abortion debate the line between the State and the Church is more clear and the State has not attempted to bind the Church to the degree which the House of Representatives has.

Many consider this a cut-and-dried law-and-order issue. It is against the law for people to enter this country without proper documentation and permission, therefore Christians should support law-keeping and law-enforcement. Likewise, Christians should not support any scheme with encourages law-breaking, dishonors those who kept the law at great effort or expense, or weakens the intent of law. All of these are arguments which Christians have made against amnesty programs and offering guest-worker status to aliens here in the US illegally.

The problem is that Rome was a law-and-order empire. They were all about law-and-order. And if Christianity was simply a law-and-order religion, Christians would never have been persecuted and Jesus would likely have not died on the cross. Rome had a law-and-order religion, Stoicism. One of the greatest Stoic teachers, Marcus Aurelius, was also a persecutor of Christians. John and Peter stood before the Sanhedrin as Peter thundered, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right to obey men rather than God." Christianity recognizes that there is always a higher law above the laws of men. If you make abortion legal, it is still murder. If you pass "Jim Crow" laws, they are still unjust. Plenty of laws are a stench in God’s nostrils. Christians are not obligated to keep all laws, and some laws they are obligated to actively resist.

Currently we have an immigration problem in our country. At least 12 million people are living in this country illegally. Terrorism is a growing global problem and the government cannot adequately protect its people if it cannot secure its borders. Our country’s population is not growing with the demand for workers, largely because we’ve killed 40 million children in utero. And many of the undocumented persons in our country come from countries where the United States has fostered fascist governments fighting "wars" on communism, wars which are excuses for bands of US-equipped militias to murder, rape, and pillage villagers in Central America (does "Iran-Contra" ring any bells?). The villagers fled to the United States, which would not grant them refugee status because to do so would be to admit the covert wars which the government denies waging [The US government finally shut down its School of the Americas, where militias were trained to torture and kill villagers]. What would Jesus have the Church do?

Currently our North and South borders are fairly porous. Incidentally, most of the prospective terrorists the United States have apprehended have flown into our airports or driven across from Canada. Why would a terrorist make his way across a Mexican desert on foot when he can drive across at Buffalo, New York? According to our current laws, an immigration violator is guilty of violating immigration code but is not a criminal any more than you are a criminal by local standards if you don’t mow your lawn. That is why police departments don’t round up "illegal aliens," they have no jurisdiction. [2011 Update: The Arizona Immigration Act is an attempt (possibly an unconstitutional one) to create jurisdiction to act. I can easily sympathize with their motivations in this.] This means that our immigration laws, which ostensibly exist to control the flow of desperately poor people into the US have about as much effect as setting a cold glass of water in front of a person dying of thirst, saying, "Don’t drink this," and walking away. Central Americans know that the US doesn’t really enforce its laws, and know that they are not technically criminals, and so they come seeking economic opportunity. They want to eat well, have good health care, and want their kids to have the same opportunities that we do. But the "Republican base" is fed up with the tide of illegal immigration, and it’s an election year. So the politicians are acting. And the House passes HR 4437.

One thing that HR 4437 would do is increase security at the borders. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. The government has a responsibility to protect its citizens. Liberals wail about the idea of a wall, but there’s nothing Scriptural against it. All nations in the ancient world had walls, some around cities, others around whole nations, and the Bible never says a word about it. There is some question about whether or not it will work. Building a wall without having a system for moving the needed people into the country legally is a little like building a dam without a spillway. Before you get the whole thing up it’ll fall and wash down the stream. Maybe we can get some Mexican guest-workers to build it.

Another part of HR 4437 is the changing of the status of violators. Under HR 4437, they become felons, and not just the violators who enter after the passage of the law, but all who are currently in the United States. This provision might have been struck down by the courts as being a violation of the US Constitution. It is very close to being an ex post facto (after the fact) law (forbidden by the Constitution). The framers of HR 4437 have denied this, saying that there would be a "grace period" wherein people could return to Mexico (or elsewhere) without penalty. The biblically questionable part of this has to do with justice and compassion. These people have built lives here. Consider an analogy. The city you live in has a law that you need a building permit to add on to your house. The permits are expensive and City Hall grants so few that you know it’s not worth it to try. You know that if you get caught, they’ll fine you a small amount and let you go. So you build without the permit. After living in the addition for a few years, the city passes a law making it a felony to build without a permit. The law will effect everyone retroactively. You complain that you’ve already build the edition but they say that you’ll have a "30-day grace period" to tear it down. I’m sure you’d bet overjoyed at their compassion.

[2011 Update: Christians in various forums have challenged this part of my argument criticizing me for promoting lawbreaking. The Christian should wait for the building permit. I think this criticism is na├»ve. First, I think people don’t understand that ANY ex post facto law is unjust unless the law and the punishment would be universally understood as reasonable. It would not be unjust to create an ex post facto law concerning shooting your neighbor’s dog in his yard and attaching a moderate fine and applying the law after the fact because anyone would find the law to be just common sense. Without getting too deeply into the philosophy of law, consider another analogy. You city informs everyone that they are going to use their traffic camera data to issue fines to everyone who drove 1-4 miles over the speed limit in the last year. This fine will be $1000. Would you protest? Should Christians pull out the checkbook because they knew that 56 mph was against the law? What makes the law unjust is that people didn’t worry about breaking the law at that law because there was no enforcement which created a grey area. When people drove 56 mph they didn’t do so in light of a $1000 fine. While my example is more extreme, maybe you get the point.]

HR 4437 would also up the bar for employers who hire aliens illegally. The first effect would be to move most of these aliens out of tax-paying work [and yes, most of them currently pay taxes, just with fake Social Security numbers, 40 billion dollars a year, gone] and into a completely underground economy. Because even the most ardent anti-immigrant activist admits that the US doesn’t have the infrastructure or money to detain or deport 12 million men, women, and children. While not explicitly an evil move, there is certainly room to question the judgement of such a scheme.

The other consequence is the vast need this would create for legal workers. Since our unemployment is pretty low in most areas (especially in areas with undocumented workers, they go where the jobs are), this law creates an immediate vacuum while the country waits for the legal guest workers to make it through the INS. Conservative columnist Mark Steyn notes that if you wait for the INS to approve Mary Poppins to nanny your newborn, Ms. Poppins might make it over to the US in time for you kid’s college graduation. Will the jobs stay in the US long enough to process the guest workers? This isn’t really a biblical issue, because people in Indonesia need jobs too.

[2011 Update: This issue seen in light of the subsequent recession in the United States might highlight a need for a guest worker program, as President Bush suggested and the GOP House shot down as “amnesty.” The problem with the GOP Congress’ actions is that now, with much higher unemployment, we have most of the illegal aliens still in the US. We had no way to ask them to leave because without something which will induce them to register, they all remain in the shadows. From a Christian standpoint this is not a tragedy, but the GOP seems to have shot themselves in the foot with this and anyone could have predicted it.]

The long and short of it is that strengthening borders, giving or not giving amnesty, building a fence, requiring people to learn English, starting a guest worker program, changing the law for future violators, etc. are all POLICY decisions. These kinds of policy decisions can be informed by Scripture, but the Bible doesn’t speak to them directly. Christians can fall on different places in the debate. But HR 4437 steps into an area where no Christian should waver, the role of the Church in showing hospitality to the alien and stranger.

HR 4437 would make it a felony for any people to feed, clothe, educate, treat, transport or house any person in the United States illegally. It would be a felony to buy a little Guatemalan girl an ice cream cone. I’m not kidding. ESL programs would be illegal if they did not confirm immigration status. Even providing medical help would be felonious. There is no provision exempting people who do so as charity (the bill explicitly makes this kind of charity illegal). There is no provision exempting churches or religious workers. The Federal Department of Homeland Security would be responsible for rounding up Christians who defy this law. This is all under section 202 (a) of HR 4437. You might ask, How could they do this? The authors, many self-identified Christians, say that if you help a felon commit a felony, you are a felon. Christians shouldn’t help people break laws. The problem is that violating immigration law (which Christian missionaries do routinely) is not the moral equivalent of bank robbery. And while Christians don’t have an obligation in most instances to assist people in crossing borders (and probably shouldn’t, in most instances), Christians do have an obligation to show all aliens and strangers kindness and charity and hospitality, regardless of their status with the United States government. The Roman Catholic Cardinal of Los Angeles has publicly stated that he has pre-emptively ordered his thousands of priests to disobey this resolution, should it become law.

You don’t have to be a right-wing nut to believe the United States should do something about her borders. You are not violating Scripture to promote stronger laws and better enforcement. You are not a racist to think that immigrants should learn English and United States history. Ann Coulter isn’t bigoted to suggest that we issue more visas to educated and skilled immigrants than unskilled laborers (which would be great if we could get them to work in poultry packing plants). But if you forbid Christians to do what God commands, you are committing an act of evil.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Reading the Koran



I was reading a post on Citizen Warrior about an Egyptian born Christian who begs people in the West to actually read the Koran. I have a friend who is a former missionary to Morocco who has been also saying the same thing for years. So much misinformation and silliness (often passionately believed) would disappear if Christians would read the Koran.

It struck me that the exhortation needs a qualification, though. You must not only read the Koran, but you must read the Koran in a clear, reliable translation. Many translations of the Koran are somewhat sanitized. While the meaning is often clear enough if you know what you are reading, often the novice reader will miss entirely what is being said.

Here is a classic example from Sura (chapter) 4, verse 34

Marmaduke Pickthall - As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them.

Yusef Ali - As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly)As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly).

The Simple Koran (CSPI) - As for the women whom you fear will rebel, admonish them first, and then send them to a separate bed, and then beat them.

[The Hilali-Khan follows the Ali in this verse, but makes up for it by giving generous footnotes from Islamic sources showing violent supremacism throughout.)

Note that the Pickthall obscures the meaning somewhat through archaic language (Muslims tend to translate the Koran into faux King James idiom to make Koranic language sound exalted) and the Ali does the same thing with archaic idiom and the insertion of language that is completely absent from the Arabic.

The Simple Koran is by far the clearest translation that an English speaker can read. As a word of caution, though, the Simply Koran has a great strength that is also a weakness. CSPI has rearranged the Koran so that the sura are in chronological order and has inserted narrative information to give context. There is no better Koran for reading straight through and getting a real understanding without years of painful study. They've really done a service with this. On the other hand, the Simple Koran is very difficult to use for study and reference. If you get the Simple Koran, have another version as well.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Republicans (unknowingly) Endanger Persecuted Christians

In a classic case of seemingly small decisions and unintended consequences, Christians in Iran have been endangered by the recent budget cutting in Congress. International Christian Concern has reported that in the midst of the budget cuts of the Republican-led Congress, Texas Representative Lamar Smith (R), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has proposed reviewing all judicial amendments in light of their budgetary impact. This would endanger the Lautenberg Amendment a Cold-War era piece of legislation which grants refugee status to persecuted Christians and Jews in the former USSR. This law was expanded in 2003 to include religious minorities in Iran.

The US grants asylum to many thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of refugees. These refugees receive small amounts of assistance in establishing themselves with other assistance given by non-governmental agencies and ministries. The refugees included in the Lautenberg Amendment are a tiny fraction of the total, but they are among the most vulnerable because other countries often do not recognize them as refugees. Oftentimes, the opportunity to emigrate to the US can make the difference between life and death for a Iranian Christian. This Amendment has never been controversial and its budgetary impact is tiny.

Repealing or even pausing this amendment could put lives at immediate risk.

Please consider calling Rep. Smith's office and asking him to not include the Lautenberg Amendment in any legislative review and leave it in effect. Sen. Smith's number is 202-225-4236. His staff is very nice.
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Also, you could call your Congressional Representative and ask them to support the Amendment by leaving it in effect and not submitting it to review. It would be helpful if your representative called Sen. Smith's office as well.

Read more at International Christian Concern.

Update: JihadWatch picked up on this story and gave us a hat tip. Thanks Robert!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Egypt's Only Hope

In my very cynical mind, the only hope for an Egypt that doesn't embark on a religious purge akin to Iraq's (though I think it will be a tad slower) is for the military to impose some form of long term rule where they exercise some sort of veto over the radicals and consistently move against the jihadis. They will have to outlaw certain parties and preachers, but I don't see how a multi-faith democracy can exist where 70-80% of the nation believes in Islamist ideology.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Japan's Nuclear Holocaust

As the world watches the horror both unfold and uncover in Japan, somehow what I'm reminded of is how the United States destroyed Japanese Christianity with a nuclear bomb in 1945. The bomber "Bock's Car" carrying "Fat Man" was instructed to drop its payload only on visual targeting. The first city was clouded over and so they flew to the secondary target, Nagasaki. Nagasaki was the home of the largest Christian church in Japan, St. Mary's. It was the city with the largest Christian community in the country. The Nagasaki Christian community had withstood hundreds of years of persecution. Yet, it disappeared in an instant. The crew of "Bock's Car" sighted "Fat Man" directly on St. Mary's Church. And the entire Christian community of Nagasaki disappeared in an instant.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Muslims or Mohammadeans?

[This post has been revised because of renewed interest in it. I have corrected a typo and inserted documentation for many of the statements I have made. With many of the statements, vast amounts of documentation could be provided, but I have only given one reference per citation. CL-April 16, 2011]

I've been working this one up for weeks at my son's basketball practices and writing it on my BlackBerry. It's hard to write with any polish on a mobile device and this thing has grown far beyond what I expected. So I'm posting it just to finish it. I hope it's helpful.

Christians have many misconceptions about Muslims. One of the most common is equating the Koran with the Bible and Mohammed with Jesus. Intellectuals "correct" this by pointing out that Muslims actually think of Mohammed in the same way that pious Jews think about Moses. The Koran is in a sense, the incarnation of God. It is perfect, fully divine and the word of God (Allah). To some extent, Muslims view the Koran the same as Christians view Jesus.

Without going much into how Muslims view the Koran, it is important to note that unlike the Christian view that the Bible is both fully human and fully divine, the Koran is only fully divine. All the words are God's words. Instead of the Spirit of God working through an apostle to bring his revelation (2 Peter 1:21), Muslims maintain that Mohammed was directly reciting God's words (2:129). Because the words are divine alone, Muslims do not write in the Koran as Christians do in the Bible, and the Koran can never be translated, only interpreted. Muslims have a much simpler, and less nuanced, understanding of the Koran than Christians have of the Bible.

But while this explanation of the Koran does seem to make sense of the way Muslims interact with the Koran, the abovementioned explanation of Mohammed doesn't seem to account for the relationship Muslims have with Mohammed. There is almost nothing in common between Jews and Muslims and the way they relate to Moses and Mohammed. You never hear Jews argue about the way that Moses urinated (Fiqh-Us-Sunna 1:19a). They don't riot in the thousands when a child names a Teddy Bear "Moses” (Somalia, 28 November 2007). There just isn't any resemblance between the Muslim view of Mohammed and the way that Jews or Christians consider ANY prophet. There are a lot of good reasons why Christians referred to Muslims for centuries as Mohammadeans. Whether we should call them that today I'll address at the end of this article.

One difference between Mohammed and Moses is that Mohammed is the perfect man, the standard of conduct for every Muslim (especially men) (33:21) much in the same way that Jesus is for Christians (1 Peter 2:21). However, while Christians hold up Jesus as the standard for morality, ethics, love, etc, Muslims hold Mohammed as the standard for dress, eating, bathing, and eliminating as well. While Muslims don't pray to Mohammed, they arguably pay a great deal more attention to his person.

We're not comparing apples to apples with the two men, however. Jesus had a three year public life which is recorded in one book, The New Testament. There are few outside sources for the life of Christ. The reliable contemporary sources (such as Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, the Talmud) are so sparse that they add nothing to our understanding of Jesus. There are extensive non-contemporary sources (Gnostic Gospels), but orthodox Christianity does not accept them (Eusebius, Church History, VII). The New Testament, then, is the sole window we have into the life of Jesus.

The picture that appears of Jesus is in some ways strikingly non-personal. We don't know what Jesus looked like, how he dressed or what kind of food he liked. Jesus taught about faith in God, faithfulness to God and his identity as the Messiah and Son of God. His entire ministry was directed at loving God and loving people. There is not one instance of Jesus pursuing a personal desire or preference or even defending himself from a personal attack.
All of this is different with Mohammed. The Koran is considered Allah's speech but often Allah seems very concerned with Mohammed's agenda, preferences, desires and honor. When Mohammed is mocked, Allah gets even (Ibn Ishaq, Hisham, 819). When Mohammed desires his daughter in law, Allah annuls all adoptions (33:37).

In the other written material concerning Muhammed we find out even more about Mohammed's preferences. He doesn't like music (Bukhari 7:494); he hates dogs (Muslim 3815) and salamanders (Bukhari 4.54.525). And he really likes women, young beautiful women (Bukhari 1.5.270). Mohammed marries Aisha at six and sleeps with her at nine (Bukhari 5.58.234). He lies to his wife to sleep with a slave (Bukhari 3:43.651). He feels free to attack and plunder from large extended groups of people based on the actions of a few (History of al-Tabari, McDonald, VII, 28-29). All of this becomes conduct to imitate for Muslims.
It isn't a coincidence that Islamic law doesn't recognize adoption or that Islamic countries permit child marriage. There's a reason that an action by the US military turns all Americans into "legitimate targets." It isn't random that Islamic law allows Muslim men to lie to unbelievers or their wives. If Mohammed did it then it is not only permissible, but commendable.

Another huge difference between Mohammed and Moses is his relationship to the Koran. Moses didn't write the Hebrew Scriptures, only a part of them. The entire Koran from first to last was recited by Mohammed - he stands alone. It is impossible to overemphasize this. The Bible has many, many authors but one Spirit. Part of the argument for the divine origins of the Bible is the continuity of the message over dozens of authors over 1500 years. It de-emphasizes human authors and makes them simply part of a vast and grand salvation epic. The Koran is all about Mohammed.

For a Muslim, everything is about the person of Mohammed. He is it. And the fact that he stands alone amplifies his importance to Muslims. The fact that the Koran focuses so much on the person and personality of Mohammed (and the Hadith even more so) amplifies his importance. This is why even though Muslims claim to follow Allah, what they really have is a Mohammed-cult.

Now I know that Muslims will protest this, but everything about their piety supports my thesis. Today in Pakistan the penalty for blaspheming Allah is imprisonment but the penalty for blaspheming Mohammed is death (Penal Code 295c). You can question the existence of God, but if you dishonor Mohammed, you will die. And actually, if you are accused of dishonoring Mohammed, of his book, you must die. It is better to kill an innocent than possibly let someone who dishonors the Prophet live.

They ARE Mohammedeans. Islam is the cult of the 7th century warlord whose honor is protected as if he was still alive and whose example and words are followed as if there has been no change in context in 1400 years. We don't call them Mohammedeans, however, simply because, in the words of Wafa Sultan, "It is wrong to call people by names that they do not choose." Or, in the words of the Son of God, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," (Matthew 7:12) a commandment absent from Islam.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

We all Hope We are Wrong About Egypt

"Roland Shirk," a commentator at JihadWatch has an excellent column on the danger Egypt is now facing with Mubarek out of power. I have to admit, listening to the reports of the revolution, my heart resonates for the desire for freedom in Egypt. I want them to be free. I hope that they succeed. I'm just almost convinced that this is going to become a nightmare within a year - unless the military junta takes over.

Here's the conclusion of Roland's article:

"I fear that the failure of Mubarak to arrange for an orderly, undemocratic succession that would keep the Muslim Brotherhood where it belongs--firmly beneath the iron heel of a secular state--will cost far more Arab lives in the long run than it would have cost to repress the riots. I hope that I am proved wrong. I desperately hope that one or two years from now a free election produces a tolerant state, where 10 percent of the members of Egypt's parliament are Christian, half are women, and the country is still at peace with Israel. I hope that "Roland Shirk" becomes a byword in the blogosphere for pointless alarmism and needless, Machiavellian pessimism, that my columns concerning Egypt sound as silly as Reagan-era fears that a post-apartheid South Africa would turn into a Soviet satellite. I don't need to be vindicated by history. I would much, much rather be wrong."

Read it all here at JihadWatch.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Democracy vs Human Rights

As the Mubarek regime seems poised to topple in Egypt, reporters, pundits, and human rights workers are describing this as the moment human rights and democracy defeat dictatorship and oppression. Experienced analysts and historians know that the situation in Egypt is also likely to go horribly, horribly wrong.

To be sure, by many standards Mubarek is a serial violator of human rights. After he took power 35 years ago, he assumed "emergency powers" which he has never relinquished and which have allowed him to reign as virtual sovereign. Elections in Egypt are mostly a joke and political dissent is crushed using secret police and the courts, which function as an extension of Mubarek's power. Political speech, which is one of the only two types of speech that matter, is tightly controlled and the main opposition movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, is outlawed.

On the other hand, free democracy is not as clear a path to human rights as one might assume. The problem is that democracy is a vehicle to protecting human rights when there is a consensus regarding the rights that must be protected. Egypt is over 80% Muslim. The Muslim consensus will govern Egypt in a democracy. The important question right now is this, "What is the Muslim consensus regarding human rights?"

Here are just a few of the items that will be part of the consensus, should a democracy take hold:

1) Muslims believe that people have less right to "blaspheme" Mahomet than to commit first degree murder. Blasphemy always includes any criticism of Mahomet or criticism of (or mistreatment of) the Koran. Muslims believe, as a group, that anyone who insults Mahomet deserves to die. The only variable is how urgently a particular Muslim feels about the death sentence. Ten thousand screaming Somalis took to the streets demanding the head of an English schoolteacher because her children named the class teddy bear "Mohammed."

2) Muslims believe that women are more sinful than men and their primary value is to gratify sexual desires, produce male offspring and carry the honor of the family. This is why women's testimony is worth half of a man's and why about 70% of "secular" Turks condone honor killing. Muslims will vote these things into existence because they are a majority and it's in their DNA to do so. Think about it. Incest is repugnant to a Judeo-Christian worldview. It has been forbidden long before any genetic arguments were made against it. We don't allow people to practice it because it's outside of our worldview. It doesn't matter if someone else protests that their morals permit it. Ours don't allow them to. That's how deeply held the Muslim view of women is.

3)Muslims believe, also at the DNA level, that anything belonging to Islam belongs to Islam forever. This applies to women, people (distinguishing the two) and land. This is why Muslim men can marry non-Christian women but Muslim women cannot marry a Muslim man. Apostasy carries the death penalty. Freedom of religion means freedom to convert to Islam. Israel creates a problem in the Middle East because it was once a Muslim land. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood are already calling for war with Israel.

Mubarek was able to suppress or curb many of these things, but only because he was an autocrat. But when the majority of people in Egypt hold the reigns of power, they will certainly begin to act on them. Does it sound like human rights are advancing?
Offending the religious and enraging the heathen

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Free Egypt?


I have friends in Egypt who are Christian. I don't know if they are out in the streets, but they are certainly supporting the protesters. Until the blackout (Mubarek cut off cell phones and internet) they we're commenting on the revolution and hoping for Mubarek's fall from power.

Personally, this concerns me a great deal. I think they see the injustice of Mubarek's regime and they know many secular Muslims who have talked with them about democracy for years. They cannot imagine that their friends and neighbors would ever turn against them. Most middle-class Christians don't experience great persecution. The kidnapped girls are often from poorer and less influential families. I think they lose the forest for the trees.

The forest reveals the Saddam Hussein problem. Only a brutal dictator can keep Islam in check and preserve a secular society in an Islamic culture. As soon as the dictator leaves (Shah, the decay of Attaturk's successors, etc.) Islam rushes in to fill the vacuum. I am sorry for the injustice in Mubarek's regime but I fear the Muslim Brotherhood.

Secular democracy depends upon a Christian worldview, not necessarily strong Christian religion, but the worldview that it creates.

I too am frightened for Egypt's Christians.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Christian Honor Killings

I am constantly surprised at the depths of absurdity Muslims will attain in their dialogue with Christians. Every time I think I've heard it all, I run across something new. Recently, I Muslim woman wrote to me that honor killing was as common among Arab Christians as Arab Muslims. Since I cannot believe that she came up with this herself based upon any kind of research, I thought some about where such a belief might come from.

In thinking about how she could possibly make that claim, the thing that occurred to me is that this is one of the stories used to cover up kidnappings of Christian women: "They converted to Islam and you can't talk to them because they are afraid of you." Christian women are regularly abducted and forcibly "converted" to Islam. The girls are kidnapped and forced into "marriage," which is actually rape and ongoing sexual abuse and domestic slavery. The girl's family goes to the police. The police go to the family that kidnapped the girl who tell the police that she converted to Islam and doesn't want to talk to her birth family. The girl gets a new identity and ceases to exist legally. Jihad Watch and International Christian Concern reports dozens of these stories every year.

The absurdity of the claim that Christians perpetrate honor killings could be answered at almost an inexhaustible length, but I'll just mention three things.

First, it is unbelievable to think that Christians would be honor killing converts to Islam in an Islamic country (which all Arab countries are). It is just not happening. Christians in Islamic countries are just trying to survive and avoid giving any excuse for Muslims to burn their churches and kill them.

Second, it would be interesting for someone to try to produce the incredible list of honor killings by Christians (even Arab ones) in non-Muslim countries. If Arab Christians are as violent as Muslims, surely they are killing women in the same numbers as Muslims. Pam Geller has an amazing (and horrific) list at Atlas Shrugs. Can anyone produce a similar list from a non-Muslim country? No? I wonder why that is? Can anyone find a single Christian country which offers reduced sentences for honor killings (as do almost all Muslim countries)? Can anyone find a SINGLE Christian honor killing confirmed by a non-Muslim? Hmmm. Thought so.

Third, honor killings are part and parcel of Islam, not Christianity. I've noticed that Muslims have a very difficult time imagining that anyone in the world thinks differently than they do. Since Muslims are a pretty violent lot, Christians must be the same. It's just not true. That doesn't mean that Christians don't commit acts of violence, but it does mean that the more religious a Christian becomes, the less violent they become. With Muslims it seems to be exactly the opposite. The most peaceful Muslims are secular.

The reason for this is pretty simple. Jesus didn't kill people. Jesus healed people. Jesus told his followers to love their enemies and pray for those that persecuted them. Then Jesus did exactly that. When Christians want to become more like Jesus they become more kind and loving towards their enemies.

Mohammed is pretty much the opposite. He was a warrior. He killed people. He had others killed. He told his followers to fight their enemies. He told them to even to fight those who insult them. And according to a hadith believed authentic by most Muslims in the world, he ordered his followers to kill anyone who left Islam.

Many Muslim women are deceived. Being deceived allows them to remain in a violent religion by telling themselves that all religions are equally bad. It would create a great deal of pain for them to know that they are trapped in a world where their families would likely seek their deaths if they leave Islam. I am very sorry for them. I am very sympathetic and don't blame them for believing the things they do. I also know that when Christian women leave the faith, they are prayed for, sometimes pleaded with, but are in no physical danger.