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“Around the world there are radical Muslim fundamentalists who have responded to our invasion of Iraq, as well as to our general acquiescence in the face of the sufferings of Palestinian people, by declaring a Jihad against Christianity,” Campolo asserted, citing threats to Christians in Indonesia, Sudan, and the Philippines, among others. He faulted “American television preachers” who “foolishly declare Islam to be an evil religion,” and also an American general who supposedly told a U.S. church congregation that “Islam is a creation of Satan.” Campolo was likely referring to now retired Lt. General William Boykin, who in 2003 told a congregation that Islamic extremists hate the United States “because we’re a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christians…. And the enemy is a guy named Satan.” Boykin, whose superiors admonished him for not making more clear that he was speaking religiously only for himself and who retired in 2007, did not say, “Islam is a creation of Satan.” As to calling terrorism satanic, or observing that radical Islamists hate America because they associate it with Christianity and Judaism, these points seem indisputable, but troubling to Campolo, because they further distract from his conviction that America invites Islamic rage.
Campolo asked: “Don’t these people realize that there are dire consequences for our missionaries in Muslim countries as a result of such rhetoric?” Undoubtedly, Islamists are further enraged by criticism, especially when amplified by their own propaganda outlets. But Campolo seems not to consider that the contempt for Christianity and Judaism, not to mention America, well predates any recent U.S. military actions. “More than 300 missionaries who had been serving in Pakistan have lost their visas,” Campolo complained, once again faulting current U.S. foreign policy for angering Islamists. But Islamic law, including a ban on “blasphemy” and conversion away from Islam, were instituted in Pakistan in the 1980s by American ally General Zia-ul-Haq’s, a recipient of vast U.S. aid, and who assisted in channeling U.S. help to Muslim fighters against the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan.
“Christianity is so identified with American power and politics that in some places missionaries are being sent home, not only because they are thought to be people who denigrate Islam, but also because of suspicion that they might even be CIA agents,” Campolo further decried. “Again the question must be raised as to whether or not Christianity is becoming a casualty of the war on terrorism,” and whether Christianity has been “hurt by the failure of leading Evangelical spokespersons to decry how the war on terrorism has been conducted.” Campolo also criticized Evangelical failure to support “moderate Muslims,” while faulting Evangelical “prejudices” that have “driven many Muslim young people into the camps of radicals.”
Campolo concluded: “We have a lot to answer for in the days that lie ahead, and when this war on terrorism ends–if it ever does–in an American victory, we Christians will have to ask ourselves if we were among the major losers.” But perhaps left-leaning Evangelicals like Campolo will also have to answer for their ongoing unwillingness more outspokenly to defend persecuted Christians globally beyond just exploiting them as talking points against U.S. policies. Campolo might also ask himself: If the U.S. ended all armed resistance to terrorism, and abandoned Israel, and even revoked the First Amendment by banishing all criticism of Islam, would radical Islamists then endorse full religious liberty and welcome the Christian missionaries whose fate Campolo ostensibly champions?
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