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Meanwhile, in the United States, supporting radical Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and the building of the Islamic center is the priority of the leaders of the Religious Left, such as the National Council of Churches (NCC). Although the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is a member denomination of the NCC, the NCC has shown no similar support for Father John Romas, the pastor of St. Nicholas Church or the people of St. Nicholas Church. Nor has the NCC uttered a statement of solidarity with persecuted Christians in Indonesia.
In his recent statement of support for the “Cordoba House and Mosque at Ground Zero,” NCC General Secretary Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon says that Cordoba House “is a gesture of neighborliness and healing.” This is not quite how those who are opposed to Cordoba House see it. They say the mosque is a gesture of a different sort altogether. And many of the 70 percent of Americans who are opposed to the plans are stunned by the NCC’s eagerness to accommodate the agenda of Islamism while ignoring the needs of fellow Christians.
True to form, Kinnamon accuses opponents of Imam Rauf’s grand plan of “narrow-minded intolerance.” This is the “same ignorance that has led to hate crimes and systematic discrimination against Muslims,” he says. But neither Kinnamon, nor any liberal church leaders, have condemned Islamists’ narrow-minded intolerance or the hate crimes and systematic discrimination perpetrated against Christians such as those in Bekasi, Indonesia. Occasionally the NCC issues statements urging prayer for “ethnic conflict” (one of the few times when they are satisfied with “praying” about something rather than becoming involved politically!). But they would never articulate the problem: an Islamic jihad is seeking to wipe out Christians. Neither have they clamored for justice for Christians closer to home, the parishioners of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, still waiting for permission to rebuild their church.
Kinnamon and his tolerant, liberal Religious Left friends appear to not understand the agenda of Imam Rauf and Cordoba House or the agenda of Islam. His ignorance of Islam is breathtakingly obvious when he protests that a “tiny minority” of Muslims have committed “violent acts” that “defy the teachings of Mohammed.” And as for violent acts defying the teachings of Mohammed – has Kinnamon never read the Koran? Or if he has, doesn’t he know that the earlier, vaguely tolerant passages are abrogated by the later, intolerant passages? And what about Mohammed’s own violent acts? Has Kinnamon never heard how Mohammed wiped out the Qurayza Jews of Medina in 627 A.D.?
Kinnamon rightly regrets slavery in America, which he says was “justified with Bible proof-texts and a belief that blacks were inferior to whites.” But in reality, slavery is much more closely associated with Islam. “Mohammed’s teachings” include the idea that slaves are given to Muslim warriors as “booty,” by Allah. Allah’s endorsement of the rape of slave girls and (more often than not) boys, justifies such “violent acts” perpetrated by Islamists against Christian and other infidel “slaves” taking place today.
One 9/11-haunted man who still sees “the face of the young man” who worked in his department that was killed found Kinnamon’s press release offensive. Like many non-Greek Orthodox people who worked in New York, this gentleman occasionally attended St. Nicholas. “It was pleasant and welcoming. Now it’s gone,” he said. He challenged the NCC to “lead an effort to build a 100 million dollar Greek Orthodox Church at Ground Zero” even while admitting that he knew that it was highly unlikely. The NCC critic also asked why the council could not “use its clout to speak out for Christians in Muslim countries who are often discriminated against” and suggested that the NCC “talk about what is good about America instead of always harping on its problems or why the people who built the country were racists, bible thumping bigots, etc.”
The Religious Left often excuses the oppression of Christians living under Islam. Islamists in Bekasi, Indonesia, who find the very existence of the Christians of the HKBP Filadelfia Church offensive, violate Indonesian Christians’ human rights. Yet cultural sensitivity to the Islamic world is of paramount importance to Christian leaders of the Religious Left. So they are circumspect concerning Indonesian co-religionists.
But the Religious Left also puts first cultural sensitivity to Islam in the United States. It matters little that the thought of a mosque symbolizing Islamic victory is offensive to most Americans. Or that the church home of over seventy families of Greek Orthodox Christians and countless visitors, the only church to be destroyed on 9/11, still has not been rebuilt. The sensitivities of Muslims in America, and the need to accommodate the Ground Zero Mosque, are of paramount importance to Christian leaders of the Religious Left.
When do the sensitivities, the feelings, of non-Muslims get to be taken into account? Maybe that is not a critical matter. But regardless of feelings, the situation of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in New York is disturbingly similar to that of the Indonesian Christian Church. At present, St. Nicholas’ plight is just a matter of red tape and indifference, not government-sanctioned discrimination. But rather than demonstrate solidarity with and the importance of this historic Christian church by pressing for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to allow its swift rebuilding, liberal church leaders are more concerned with demonstrating their accommodation to Islam. How far will their accommodation go?
Faith J. H. McDonnell directs The Institute on Religion and Democracy’s Religious Liberty Program and Church Alliance for a New Sudan, and is the author of Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda’s Children (Chosen Books, 2007).
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