If you were counting on a robust offensive (or even a mild defense) from U.S. churches to stop in its tracks the incursion of Islamism in America, perhaps you should save up to pay your jizya (tax imposed on non-Muslims, dhimmis, for the right to exist). Many churches in America are neither willing nor prepared to counter the influence and infiltration of Islamism in their own congregations, let alone in the wider civil society. Rather than fear the judgment of the Almighty, these churches fear the label “Islamophobic.”
Particularly in the left-leaning mainline denominations, but disturbingly more and more common with formerly conservative evangelicals as well, many churches are obsessed with making themselves likeable to Islamists. All in the name of peace and reconciliation, such churches opt for sessions of feel-good dialogue with the local mosque, gushing about how much Christianity and Islam have in common, and never challenging Muslims to serious debate on those so-called commonalities such as peace and brotherhood, the Muslim belief in the return to the earth of Jesus (Isa) and their devotion to Jesus’ mother, Mary (Maryam).
The Islamic interpretation of all of these is about as convoluted as the English translations in a Monty Python Hungarian Phrasebook. But most Christians don’t know that the Koran teaches that Isa was a prophet of Islam (Surah Âl 'Imran 3:84) or that the Hadiths declare that Isa will return to earth to destroy Christianity and establish Islam. One tradition of Muhammad says that Isa will break the cross (abolish Christianity), kill pigs (infidels), and abolish the poll-tax (stop accepting the jizya and wage Jihad again). (Sunan Abu Dawud, 37:4310) Nor do they know that in the Koran, Muhammad pretty obviously confused Maryam, the mother of Isa, with the centuries’ older Miriam, the sister of Moses.
Eager to accept at face value expressions of peace and brotherhood, Christian/Muslim dialogues ignore these errors, as well as the many troubling statements about Christians, Jews, and other “unbelievers” in the Koran and the Hadiths. The Christian participants accept the claim of their Muslim guest speaker – usually a professor of Islamic studies at some Saudi-endowed university trained to present a perfectly palatable version of Islam to Christians – that the Shari’a is quite compatible with democracy.
Another display of eagerness to engage in fantasy was the sycophantic Loving God and Neighbor Together. In this statement, Yale theologians-and-friends naively responded to A Common Word Between Us and You, a letter from international Muslim leaders inviting Christians to embrace Islam. The Yale response’s ‘bold’ insertion of Christianity into the conversation references Jesus’ admonition to the Pharisee to remove the log from his own eye before attempting to deal with the splinter in his neighbor’s eye (Matthew 7:5). But they cite Christ’s words in order to apologize for such Christian “logs” as the Crusades and the War on Terrorism.
This was a strategic blunder according to theologian and author the Rev. Dr. Mark Durie, since “it sends the signal to Muslims that whatever the problems with Islam, and whatever the sins of Muslims, they are but a ‘speck’ compared to the collective crimes of Christians.” It was also a moral failure, because it betrays Christians in the Islamic world who are being slaughtered.
Durie explains that the Yale response, “adopts a self-humbling, grateful tone.” This is disturbing, he says, because it fits right in with the classic Islamic understanding that Christians are dhimmis who should be grateful “for the generosity of having their lives spared” and humble, because their condition as dhimmis is contemptible. “It is regrettable that the Yale theologians have shown themselves so ready to adopt a tone of grateful self-humiliation,” Durie reproves, since A Common Word “did not offer awareness of, or any apology for, Muslims’ crimes, past and present, against non-Muslims.”
Such a scenario is sure to be played out next week when the Washington National Cathedral of the Episcopal Church hosts a “Christian-Muslim Summit,” March 1-3, 2010. There will be four main speakers and twenty other participants at this “gathering of high-ranking Christian and Muslim leaders for a candid discussion of matters affecting Christian-Muslim relations and peacemaking efforts worldwide” But if this summit is true to form and to all such past events, it will just be another exercise in dhimmitude for most, if not all, of the Christian participants as they fall all over themselves in their efforts to be inoffensive to Islam.
On a website page seemingly designed as an ‘homage’ to Islamic/Arabic art, the participants of the summit are introduced in the typically solemn and self-important tones which the National Cathedral reserves for interfaith events. There are “The Principals,” including two Muslims, Ayatollah Dr. Seyyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad Ahmadabadi, professor of law at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran (once known as the National University of Iran, now “Martyr University”), and Professor Dr. Ahmad Mohamed El Tayeb, president of Al-Azhar University in Cairo. This home to such interesting fatwas as death to apostates who leave Islam and approval of adult suckling was recently referred to by President Barack Obama as “a beacon of Islamic learning.”
His Eminence Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, and ultra-liberal John Bryson Chane, D.D., the Episcopal Church’s bishop of Washington are the Christian “Principals” in the Summit. One can only hope that Cardinal Tauran might show the same courageous and forthright spirit as when he criticized the Archbishop of Canterbury for suggesting that some aspects of Shari’a in Britain were unavoidable and when in an interview he declared the world to be “obsessed with Islam.”
The other participants, referred to as “The Twenty,” include eight other Muslims along with Anglicans/Episcopalians, Catholics, and two Jewish observers. (So nice that they let another Abrahmic faith be semi-included!) All of the Muslim participants in the summit are considered “moderate.” But even a little research raises questions about the truth of their commitment to peace and religious freedom as we would define these concepts.
It is admirable to desire to “influence governments to promote peace and reconciliation efforts worldwide.” But this description of the summit on the National Cathedral’s website does not take seriously the differences between Christianity and Islam. It portrays them as morally equivalent.
“These initiatives must be taken,” the cathedral urges, “to engage leaders across faiths and nations in the search for what Jesus called “the Peace of God that passes all understanding” and what the Qur’an teaches: “O ye who believe! Enter into Peace whole-heartedly” (Surah 2:208).
Well, it was actually St. Paul, and not Jesus, that referenced “the peace of God that passes all understanding,” (Philippians 4: 7). Jesus offered His peace in John 14: 27, which he contrasted to the peace offered by the world. But one can forgive the National Cathedral for the error since they don’t quote Jesus all that much.
And whether or not the folks at the National Cathedral know it and made a deliberate omission, or were ignorant of the fact, when Surah 2: 208 speaks of “ye who believe,” the believers do not include non-Muslims. “Enter into Peace” it says. It’s that tricky “peace” as in “Religion of Peace” that really means “submission” to Islam. Ironically, the verse undermines and contradicts the whole premise of a Christian-Muslim summit.
The March 1-3 summit will consist of private meetings, ending with a Wednesday evening public dialogue between the participants. The dialogue, moderated by Washington Post associate editor David Ignatius, is only open to invited guests and to selected members of the media who possess White House, Capitol Hill, Department of State, or Department of Defense press credentials. The website assures that “anyone may participate in the forum by watching it online” and submitting a question for consideration.
But just as in 2006, when the cathedral hosted the former president of Iran, Sayyid Mohammed Khatami, the far side of the street across from the cathedral may be lined with Iranian Americans, and possibly this time with Coptic Americans, Pakistani Christians, and others who have been marginalized by Islamist regimes, as well. At the 2006 event, hundreds of Iranian Americans and other advocates for freedom and democracy in Iran carried flags, banners, and posters. Some posters featured photos of young Iranian dissidents who were in prison or had been killed. Others excoriated Khatami and the Episcopal Church. The Chosen Ones, the guests invited to the public dialogue at the 2006 meeting, received an earful as angry and energetic protestors shouted, “Shame, shame Episcopal Church!” and directed both Khatami and the denomination to go to a location which many Episcopalians no longer believe exists!
At this coming summit, there is all the more reason for a multi-national demonstration. In addition to last summer’s slaughter of Iranian protestors and dissidents, American Copts are mourning the recent murders of Egyptian Christians. Christians in Pakistan continue to suffer injustice and violent, murderous attacks. And most Sudanese are extremely angry with Egypt because of its attempts to force a postponement of this year’s national election in Sudan, its complicity in Khartoum’s Arab Islamist racist agenda, and its brutal treatment of Sudanese refugees trying to flee to Israel.
Dhimmitude stops at the doors of the Washington National Cathedral. The doors that are painted bright red to remind worshippers not only of Christ’s sacrifice, but of the blood of the martyrs who have gone before them. The sidewalk demonstration will be a summit for those who have experienced that other side of Christian-Muslim relations, the martyrdom side. It will be a far sight more candid than what goes on inside the cathedral.
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).