Thursday, August 26, 2010

Burn a Qur'an Day

"Burn a Qur'an Day" is an event planned by a Florida church to commemorate the 9th anniversary of Sept 11.  I find this whole thing very interesting b/c it speaks to multiple issues in the life of a responsible Christian who desires to honor God in everything. I've looked over quite a few articles on it, which I'll cite as they are relevant.  Since I'm a bit of a loudmouth, my commentary this way comes.

Article 1, in which CNN issues a surprisingly fair report, ISTM, says:
The Dove World Outreach Center says it is hosting the event to remember 9/11 victims and take a stand against Islam (link mine)
Conveniently, this sentence segués nicely into one of my main points - a Christian does not take a stand against Islam by burning a Qur'an.  A conservative American might, yes, but the two terms are far from interchangeable.

Now, here are some of the reasons this whole thing is a little screwy but also such a rich ground of material on which to comment - Pastor Terry Jones says many true things about Islam, Jones' church is pretty clearly a charismatic and either fully or borderline Word of Faith (read: neo-Gnostic heretical) congregation, nobody seems to see the obvious connections to what's been done for centuries by Islam and decades by brainless liberals, and this kind of activity reveals one's heart with respect to missions and outreach to those who do not know Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

"We believe that Islam is of the devil, that it's causing billions of people to go to hell, it is a deceptive religion, it is a violent religion and that is proven many, many times," Pastor Terry Jones told CNN
This is a good example of Jones' getting it right on. All of these points are true; yes, even the one about Islam being violent. More on this later.
I don't know about "billions", but it's certainly a lot.

This, on the other hand, from Jones:
"I mean ask yourself, have you ever really seen a really happy Muslim?...Does it look like a real religion of joy?...No, to me it looks like a religion of the devil"
Is really stupid.  Note to Christians everywhere - don't judge truth by whether those who believe a certain position smile often or not.
And who cares whether it looks to him like a religion of the devil? He's so bold to burn Qur'ans and brave death threats out the wazoo, and he doesn't have the sand to say explicitly that it's of the devil b/c God said so?  I doubt that.  Rather, he probably never thought in those terms, and shame on him for that.

(The church has 3) signs bearing the slogan "Islam is of the Devil."
One of the signs -- one reading "Islam" on one side, "Devil" on the other -- was vandalized. 
"This is private property and vandalism is a crime here in America," the (church's) blog says. "In Islam, many actions that we consider to be crimes are encouraged, condoned or sheltered under Islamic teaching and practice, though. Another reason to burn a Quran."
Islam is of the devil - check, very true.
Vandalism is a crime in the USA - check, very true.  And this is simply a fulfillment of the old joke: The Muslim says "Islam is a religion of peace, and if you disagree I'll cut your head off!"  What precisely do Muslims hope to gain by committing a crime?  Burning a Qur'an isn't a crime in the USA, but vandalism most certainly is!  OTOH, if the Muslim claims that it is permissible to break the laws of the land in order to protect Allah, what does that say about Muslims' desirability as immigrants and the vanity of Allah to require that violence be waged against those who insult a Qur'an?
Islam commends things we (ie, Americans) consider to be crimes, such as bearing false witness to infidels and, obviously, vandalism of things that offend Allah - check.
However, all of those things are not a good reason to burn a Qur'an.  Here is the Christian response:  They are good reasons to share the Gospel with Muslims! 
Is Pastor Jones an American first or a Christian first?  Where is his concern for the souls of his enemies?  His love and compassion for them?  Even a "Christian armed militia" group figured this out!

All that said, let's look at DWOC's "Ten Reasons to Burn a Koran".
Interestingly, I agree with all 10 of them, except for #8 - I'm not sure the Qur'an prescribes death for apostates; maybe it does and maybe such teaching appears in a Had'ith.  But that penalty is definitely not ubiquitous throughout Islamdom.  
However, again, all of those things are not a good reason to burn a Qur'an.
Let me break it down this way.  If you burn a Bible in front of me on the street, my reaction will probably be to weep over your soul and to talk to you about why you did it, and to share the good news of Christ's love and His death on the cross and later resurrection.  Jesus commanded and enables me to love those who have  made themselves enemies of Him and of me.
Will a Muslim love his enemy when an infidel burns a Qur'an in front of him on the street, who does not have the Holy Spirit living in him and enabling him to do so, and who has no command to do so?  Most assuredly, he will not.  Doing this thing will alienate him, most assuredly, and since most Muslims (I've certainly never met one!) are quick to equate "American" with "Christian" and a fortiori have even better reason and a greater propensity to unthinkingly equate "church" with "all Christians", you are not preparing for an open dialogue with that Muslim.  Rather, you are at least sowing seeds of great anger in him, perhaps even a desire for violent retribution, and evangelism when you're on the business end of a knife is much more difficult.  

What is ironic about all that is that, as DWOC's 6th reason to burn a Qur'an correctly states: "Islamic Law is totalitarian in nature. There is no separation of church and state." 
Islam expanded militarily out from what is now Saudi Arabia into modern-day Syria, Egypt, N Africa, Spain, France, the Balkans, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, India, western China in one direction, and to the very gates of Vienna in the other.  And yet President Dubya = Christian = America?  Rare indeed is the Muslim who understands the concept of separation of church and state in the US, and yet they have the gall and emptyheadness to blame the Iraq conflict ultimately on Jesus.  The blind special pleading never ceases to amaze (and annoy) me.  

With that in mind, let us consider the über-hypocritical protests Muslims and Western liberals are lodging against this desecration.  I have seen firsthand both groups' restrictions on, disrespectful discarding of, and even destruction of the Bible.  Liberals are the first to whine when those who actually like America propose outlawing burning of the American flag.  These liberal hate-America-first types actually prefer burning the symbol of the country that provides them religious freedom and the freedom to hold idiotic, irrational, and iconoclastic positions, yet they embrace a book that, read properly, leads its adherents to remove those freedoms from their dhimmis!  Freedom of religion, particularly to those who threaten death upon the congregation of DWOC, apparently means freedom to do what sharia law tells them.  Hmmm, that sounds disturbingly familiar, sort of like those who'd like to see the whole world under sharia law!  
Chalk this one up as another entry in the long list of "Why liberals are emptyheaded".  

Finally, I'd like to comment on this op-ed piece from Akbar Ahmed, who is professor and Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington.

Not only are the actions of Jones contrary to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, but they are also against the ideals of the American Founding Fathers.
Out of the 2 assertions, 1.5 are correct.  Most certainly his actions are something that appall Jesus, since He is interested in saving sinners,not necessarily preserving America against the Islamic horde. I doubt whether the American FFs would approve of this, but as noted above, my guess is they'd be yet quicker to indict American-flag-burners on the charge of treason and hang them.
A milquetoast liberal should never bring up the Founding Fathers like that.

the pre-eminent Sunni university, Al-Azhar in Cairo, Egypt, condemning it as "stirring up hate and discrimination."
That's rich - the C4 calling the pastor's moustache grey.  Does Ahmed really think that I should care what an Islamic university in the middle of Egypt thinks about "stirring up hate"?  It's a weak argument from authority, and the authority is, um, highly suspect.

a host for one of Pakistan's top TV channels confided in me that he "didn't dare" report the story because if he did, "not a single American would be safe in Pakistan."
They're safe now?

He and the cameraman were quivering with anger as they asked me to explain why Americans hated Islam.
Maybe b/c Islamic jihadists have killed thousands of Americans.  Maybe b/c so few Muslims expressed any form of condemnation for Sept 11.  Maybe b/c you're the best persecutor of Christians in the world.  Maybe b/c neither your official law nor your unofficial actions prescribe or demonstrate that your beliefs and desired actions are different from the official actions of your Islamic gov'ts.
What ignorant idiots these men must be, and yet Professor Ahmed wants us to take them seriously?

It will cause undue harm to U.S. relations with the Muslim world and particularly the war effort.
1) Good - I'd much prefer the US gov't to get much LESS cozy with Muslim gov'ts.
2) Will this lead to more difficult missionary efforts among Muslims in their own lands?  Possibly, but such efforts are not exactly easy these days anyway.  But let me be consistent here - if such is indeed the consequence, I withdraw items #1 and #2.
3) It's very ironic that such a man would be concerned with "the war effort".  Really?  Does he support it?
4) If he's appealing to Christians who are concerned with the war effort, I wonder if he realises the war = killing Muslims and apparently vast numbers of Iraqis and Afghanis are more interested in killing Americans or aiding killers of American soldiers than helping the US forces find and eliminate the jihadists.
5) And I'm not for the war effort, not anymore.  Partly b/c the reaction has been so lukewarm from the liberated populations and partly b/c I'd much prefer all US soldiers withdraw from overseas and protect our borders.  What's the point in this war, exactly?  

There will be similar riots and attacks in neighboring Pakistan and Iran.
Um, has Prof Ahmed noticed that such things occur over newspaper editorial cartoons?  So what?

Many American Muslims will feel as if they are second-class citizens and it could push some angry young men toward violence.
As I've said above, I agree with this statement.
That's not to say that I admire the adherents of the Religion of Perpetual Outrage for their perpetual outrage.

I was not surprised, therefore, when I heard Jones recently agree, when asked to do so in an internet podcast interview, to burn "a couple of copies of the Talmud" too.
I'm not at all surprised to hear him say that - it's consistent with his position.  Modern Judaism is created by the devil too, but what Jones proposes does not follow from that fact.  

Not only does the burning of holy texts reflect the darkest days of medieval Europe and Nazi Germany
This is a ridiculous statement.  I'd like to know where Pastor Jones said anything about Inquisitions, trials, or shoving 6 million Jews into ovens.  Further, who are the most numerous Holocaust-deniers in the world today?  Ah yes, Muslims.  

Benjamin Franklin called (prophet Mohammed) a model of compassion.
One wonders whether Franklin had ever read the Qur'an.  I also have to wonder with what lens Ahmed read it.

By threatening to burn the holy books of two of these faiths, the Quran and the Talmud, Jones is violating the basic tenants of all the Abrahamic faiths and doing something that is unacceptable by any standard of religion.By threatening to burn the holy books of two of these faiths, the Quran and the Talmud, Jones is violating the basic tenants of all the Abrahamic faiths and doing something that is unacceptable by any standard of religion.
Prof Ahmed's special pleading is too much to bear.  Tell that to the countless thousands of Christians who have met great suffering, desecration and blocked proliferation of Bibles, and death at the hands of Muslims!  Jones is wrong and clearly is an American first and a Word of Faith heretic second, but to think for one second that excuses Islam's bloody record is idiotic and horrible.  Everyone involved here is guilty.

(Please leave any comments at the Triablogue post.)

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