A Christian reponse to persecution by Islam 5

The Christian Churches are doing nothing to save Christians from the persecution, enslavement, torture and murder they are being subjected to by Muslims in North Africa and the Middle East. Sometimes deprecating statements are made by church authorities. But the atrocities continue, and the Christian powers remain passive.

What is wrong with Christianity?

The answer to that question is easy to see here. We quote almost the whole article. All emphases in bold are ours.

Factually, the account of what is happening to Christians in Asia and Africa is accurate. It is the response to the facts that concern us.

Responding in Christ to Islamist Violence Against Christians and Other Minorities in the Middle East

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Introductory Note 

For the past decade, mainline Protestant churches have largely failed to speak up on behalf of Christians (and other minorities) in the Middle East. Below is the text of a model resolution that members of these churches can rework and submit to the national assemblies of their churches. This text, attempts to address the issue of Triumphalist Islam in an irenic, authoritative and comprehensive manner. It follows the model of resolutions used by the General Synod of the United Church of Christ.

Please feel free to distribute this text as you see fit.

Theological Rationale

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”

– 1 Corinthians, 12: 26-27

“For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-control.” –  2 Timothy 1:7

“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.” –  1 John 4:15

Christ summons us to partake of His life, His suffering, His death and resurrection. As part of this summons, Christ calls us to stand in solidarity with our fellow Christians during their times of trial. He calls for us pray for and end to the oppression they endure and to actively struggle against it.

Wherever and whenever anyone suffers for the same [sic. name?] of Christ, we are called to witness to both the injustice they endure and to the steadfastness they exhibit: the injustice suffered by Christians thwarts the will of God; Christian steadfastness in the face of this injustice brings glory to God.

Christ also calls us to proclaim liberty to the captives, whether their captivity is the result of physical or spiritual oppression. (Luke 4:18) He also calls us to proclaim justice to the nations (Matthew 12:15).

Background: The Roots and History of anti-Christian Violence in Muslim-Majority Environments 

The Body of Christ is under attack in Muslim-majority countries throughout the world, particularly in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Christians are being killed, imprisoned, held for ransom, forcibly converted and sold into slavery as part of an ongoing campaign of oppression and ethnic cleansing that began in the early part of the last decade. Christians are not the only targets of this campaign. Other religious minorities such as the Yazidis in Iraq and adherents of the Bahai faith in Iran are also subject to atrocities. Muslims are also the victims of oppression perpetrated by their fellow Muslims.

The overriding impulse behind these acts of aggression is an ideology of Muslim supremacy that holds that Islamic doctrine and jurisprudence should rule every aspect of life in Muslim-majority countries. This ideology causes the life of non-Muslims to be devalued and sets the stage for violence against religious and ethnic minorities (and dissident Muslims) in Muslim-majority countries.

Violence perpetrated against non-Muslims, and the ideas used to justify it, are not new phenomenon [sic], but date back to Islam’s founding. The mistreatment of non-Muslims in Muslim-majority environments and the oppression of apostates has been a persistent aspect of the Muslim faith since its founding in Seventh Century A.D.

The Curse of Dhimmitude

Under Shariah, or Islamic law, which was codified in the years after Muhammad’s death, Christians and Jews were accorded a second class status which in the modern era has been described as dhimmitudeDhimmitude is derived from the word “dhimmi” which is itself derived from the Arabic word “dhimma” which describes a pact that was thrust upon Christians and Jews who wished to maintain their faith practices when the countries they lived in came under Muslim rule.

As part of this dhimma pact, non-Muslims agreed to pay a special tax for the privilege of practicing their faith in a Muslim jurisdiction. Oftentimes, this tax was collected in a ceremony that included a ritualistic blow to the head or the neck to remind dhimmis that they were paying for the privilege of keeping their head on their shoulders. The goal was to humiliate non-Muslims into submission.

Other rules associated with dhimmitude varied from one location to another but they included a prohibition of building homes or houses of worship higher than that of their Muslim neighbors.

Dhimmis were also prohibited from riding horses, and were deprived of the right to defend themselves against Muslims when physically attacked. Public displays of religious symbols (such as the ringing of church bells or singing of hymns) was prohibited. In some instances, Jews and Christians were required to wear a colored patch indicating their religious identity.

Dhimmi testimony was not accepted in Muslim courts, rendering them vulnerable to mistreatment and oppression. Criticizing Islam or agitating for one’s liberty and equality was out of the question. The first line of enforcement for these rules was the leaders of the dhimmi communities themselves. Jewish and Christian leaders were obligated to make sure that the people in their communities did not get out of line and obeyed these rules.

The ultimate goal of these rules was to demean and humiliate non-Muslims and to encourage them to convert to Islam. These rules also had the tendency of making non-Muslims low cost, no-cost targets of violence and oppression.

If a dhimmi or dhimmi community agitated for its rights or appealed to help from outsiders, they abrogated the right to claim protection from the authorities under the dhimma pact, and as a result, rendered themselves legitimate targets of jihad. This happened a number of times under the Ottoman Empire.

For example, when the Ottoman Empire abolished dhimma laws in 1860, Muslims in Damascus murdered 5,000 Christians because they were no longer behaving in a submissive manner toward the Muslim neighbors. Men were killed and women and children were raped and abducted; some escaped these fates by converting to Islam.

Similar massacres took place in what is now known as modern-day Turkey in the 1870s, 1890s when thousands of Armenian, Greeks, and Assyrian Christians were murdered in response to European interventions on behalf of the rights of Christians in the Ottoman Empire. 

The Armenian Genocide, which resulted in the death of 1.5 million Armenians (and thousands of Greeks and Assyrians) between 1915 and 1922, was, in part, a response to the efforts of Armenians to achieve freedom and equality in a Muslim-majority environment.

Living as a dhimmi has political consequences … In the latter half of the 20th Century, Christian populations in the Middle East protected themselves by supporting brutal dictators who would protect them from the violence and hostility directed at them by their Muslim neighbors in exchange for support. Oftentimes Christians would serve as spokespeople and advocates for regimes to the West.

This strategy was particularly evident in Iraq, where Christians supported the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein and in Syria, where Christians supported the Assad regime, which brutally repressed the Sunni majority in that country. Egypt’s Coptic minority was also a bulwark of support for the Mubarak regime in Egypt, because it kept radical Sunnis, known as Salafists, out of power.

This was not a strategy available to all religious minorities. Adherents of the Bahai faith for example, are brutally repressed in Iran with no chance of obtaining help from the theocratic government in Iran. Christians are brutally mistreated in Iran as well, especially those who seek to convert their countrymen to the Christian faith.

It must be remembered that Christians in the Middle East are being oppressed in their homelands. Their existence pre-dates the arrival of Islam by centuries. They are not interlopers.

It should also be noted that Muslims are also victims of oppression in Muslim-majority countries. Where Sunnis are the majority, they oppress Shiites and vice versa. Ahmadiyya Muslims, who are regarded as heretics and apostates, are oppressed in Pakistan.

Shariah, or Islamic law establishes a system of structural violence that renders non-Muslims, dissident Muslims and women, legitimate targets of oppression.

In an effort to prevent discussion of the impact of dhimmitude and Shariah as a human rights issue Islamic organizations and leaders have worked to silence criticism of Islam through a variety of means. In particular, they asked the United Nations to promote blasphemy laws and statues that prohibit the defamation of religion. Such laws are already in force in Muslim-majority countries, making it dangerous to discuss issues of human rights under Islam.

Recent History 

Anti-Christian violence in Muslim-majority countries faded from the world’s consciousness in the decades after the Armenian Genocide.

Things began to change with the 2003 removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq when Christians in that country found themselves without a protector and subject to terrible acts of violence. Churches have been bombed, clergy kidnapped and murdered, and lay Christians have been regularly killed. Christians used to number approximately 1.5 million in Iraq. Credible estimates indicate there are less than 300,000 Christians in the country today.

Christians in Syria found themselves vulnerable to similar acts of violence as president Bashar al-Assad lost control of large sections of the country as a result of a civil war that began in 2011 and rages to this day.

Coptic Christians were also subjected to terrible attacks beginning toward the end of Hosni Mubarak’s tenure as president of Egypt, which came to an end in 2011. Fortunately, the situation for Christians in Egypt has improved substantially under the leadership of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Sisi who has taken a tough line with the Muslim Brotherhood, which was removed from power in 2013, but the hostility and violence directed at Copts in their homeland remains a problem.

The recent kidnappings of hundreds of young women in Nigeria by the Islamist organization Boko Haram and multiple massacres of Coptic Christians by ISIS in Libya demonstrates that radical Islam threatens Christians in North Africa. Violent attacks against Christians in Pakistan indicate that it is a problem in Asia as well.

Something must be said and something must be done about this rising tide of Islamist violence.

Signs of Hope

We must acknowledge unequivocally that not every Muslim adheres to the notion of supremacy over non-Muslims; to fail to do so would be false witness. There are some resources within Islamic tradition that can be used to justify a more tolerant and peaceful attitude toward non-Muslims. For example, there is a passage in the Koran that states “there is no compulsion in religion.” Unfortunately, many Muslim scholars assert that this passage and others like it, which came early in Mohammad’s career, were superseded, or abrogated by a number of other passages (which came later in Mohammad’s life) that call for the violent oppression of non-Muslims and the execution of people who would leave the faith.

Nevertheless, some Muslim intellectuals appeal to these earlier passages to convince their co-religionists to refrain from acts of violence against their non-Muslim neighbors, but they are not in the majority. This is a consequence of a decision made by Muslim scholars to close the “door of interpretation” or (bab al-itjihad) in the 11th Century. Writing in 111 Questions on Islam, Samir Khali Samir, S.J. reports that as a result that once this door was closed, it was “no longer possible to interpret the text.” He continues, “Hence today, even the mere attempt to understand its meaning in a certain context is regarded as a desire to challenge it. And it is a true tragedy for the Islamic world…”

Moreover, Samir writes that in modern times, “efforts have been made” to interpret the Koran in context, but that they have “almost always [been] in vain.” He continues: “The weight of the tradition and, above all, the fear of questioning the acquired security of the text have created a taboo: The Qur’an cannot be interpreted, nor can it be critically rethought.”

Still, there are signs of hope.

Recently, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Sisi spoke to scholars at Cairo’s Al Azhar University, the most important center of learning for Sunni Muslims in the world. He told the scholars “We must revolutionize our religion” adding that by embracing the ideas it does, “the Islamic nation is being torn apart, destroyed, and is heading to perdition. We ourselves are bringing it to perdition.” That Sisi made such a speech at Al Azhar, which has traditionally been a source of Islamic supremacism is remarkable. It remains to be seen if scholars at the school will take up Sisi’s challenge.

One group of Muslims in the United States, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), has worked to promote discussion of the topics delineated above. In a recently published statement, AIFD has condemned the push to create “Islamic” states where non-Muslims are oppressed. The organization has also called on Muslims to “promote reforms where necessary, including an honest and critical reinterpretation of scripture and shariah law used by Islamists to justify violence and oppression.”

The AIFD also declares “Neither jihadism nor Islamism permit the equality of all humans irrespective of their race or religion and should therefore be rejected.”

Hopefully, Muslims in the Middle East will start to address these issues, sparking the “revolution” within Islam that Egyptian President Sisi was calling for when he spoke to scholars at Al Azhar in Cairo.

We must remember that Islam does not have a monopoly on religious violence. Christians have struggled with their faith’s historical hostility toward the Jewish people, which has had catastrophic consequences. They have also confronted the role their faith played in the destruction and oppression of indigenous peoples throughout the world. 

The fact that we as Christians are not without sin does not preclude us from lifting up our voices about the mistreatment of our fellow Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities in Muslim-majority countries throughout the world. 

To remain silent at a time such as this would only add to our sin. 

We must pray, we must discern, we must act.

Resolution: A Call to Prayer, Discernment, and Action 

WHEREAS violence against Christians and other religious minorities in Muslim-majority environments is threatening the destruction of people groups in the Middle East; and

WHEREAS massacres, kidnappings and the enslavement of Christians and Yazidis in Syria and Iraq has reached epidemic proportions; and

WHEREAS violence against Copts in Egypt remains a threat and the murder of Copts in Libya has become an undeniable outrage; and

WHEREAS this violence is not a new phenomenon, but has its roots in Islamic doctrine, jurisprudence and tradition dating back centuries; and

WHEREAS Shariah law as it is applied in Muslim countries throughout the world represents an undeniable manifestation of structural violence and a defamation of the name of God; and

WHEREAS dhimmitude renders non-Muslims low cost, no cost targets of violence; and

WHEREAS some Muslim leaders have attempted to place discussion of these problems beyond the pale of acceptable discourse by promoting the passage of laws that prohibit “blasphemy” and the “defmation of religion;” and

WHEREAS a growing number of Muslim leaders and intellectuals are struggling to re-open the “door of interpretation;”

WE WITNESS AND LAMENT the ongoing destruction of Christian communities in the Middle East, the region of our faith’s birth, and the oppression of our Brothers and Sisters in North Africa and Asia; and

WE PROCLAIM that as Christians we are called to pray on behalf of those who are dying for the name of Christ and that we are called to speak up for the principles of religious freedom; and

WE RESPOND to this call by condemning violence against people of all faiths throughout the world and by standing in solidarity with the victims of Islamist violence wherever it takes place; and

WE PRAY for the violence against Christians and other religious minorities to end; and

WE PRAY that God manifest His presence the decisions of political leaders of all faiths and countries as they confront the rising tide of Islamist violence throughout the world; and

WE PRAY that world leaders of all faiths and ideologies be given the wisdom, the strength and confidence to stem the violence through the application of justice, mercy, and restraint; and

WE PLEDGE to educate ourselves, our congregations, our neighbors, and our community leaders about Shariah law, its impact on Muslims, non-Muslims and women and to discern and counteract the impact of dhimmitude on our fellow Christians; and

WE PRAY that Muslim leaders acknowledge the rights of their followers to convert to other faiths and work to encourage their followers to acknowledge the dignity of women, for they too are created in the image of God; and

WE PLEDGE to work for the safety of religious targeted communities throughout the world; and

WE PROCLAIM Christ’s liberty to the captives of religious violence and oppression, whether they be its victims or perpetrators. We are glad to see principled Muslims confront Islam’s legacy of hostility and violence against non-believers. We pray that their numbers may grow and that their efforts become more effective; and

WE ACKNOWLEDGE violence and sin perpetrated by Christians throughout history; and

WE PLEDGE to not let our guilt over these events to be used to silence us over the mistreatment of our co-religionists and other victims of religious violence in Muslim-majority countries; and

WE PRAY that God will embolden the faith of our fellow believers, soften the hearts of their tormentors and enliven the intellects and consciences of those who have been bystanders to this violence for far too long.

posted by Dexter Van Zile, Wednesday, March 02, 2016

So what is the “action” these Christians are resolving to take? 

To “witness and lament”.

To proclaim “Christ’s liberty”. 

To acknowledge Christian violence and sin. 

To pray.

To pray especially for the Muslims to change their beliefs and the actions they take because of those beliefs. This frail hope … no, this baseless, entirely chimerical hope is their plan of action. “Whereas” the cruel treatment and mass murder of their fellow Christians is proceeding unabated to their certain knowledge, they will “act” by praying for the Muslims to change their beliefs and their ways!

The worst place among all the killing fields where the Christian populations are being depleted, the very worst country for Christians at the mercy of Muslims, is Nigeria. They mention only the abduction and enslavement of one group of young girls. But there is much more that should be known to the world. According to a report titled Global Terrorism Index 2015, published last November by the Institue for Economics & Peace, the affiliate of ISIS in Nigeria, Boko Haram, killed 6,644 Christians. Many were babies and small children. A favorite way of killing them among the Muslim savages is by throwing them onto fires. See our post, Why Muslims are butchering Christians in Nigeria, February 24, 2014.

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A Christian child burnt alive by Muslims in Nigeria 

A particularly appalling fact is that Boko Haram was protected by Obama’s State Department during the time that Hillary Clinton was in office as Secretary of State; and the Obama administration actively interfered in Nigerian elections to get their preferred candidate into power. See our post, Obama’s Nigerian candidate wins, April 6, 2015. 

Because the churches used violence evilly in the past, these Christians are reluctant now to use it at all – or so their text implies, acknowledging Christian “violence and sin”.

Fact is, the Christian powers INTEND TO CONTINUE TO DO NOTHING to rescue or avenge the Christian victims of Islam. They will not lift a finger, let alone launch armies, to stop the slaughter, the torture, the enslavement, the terrorizing, the elimination of whole communities of their co-religionists. A large portion of Christendom itself!

Except of course pray, and proclaim, and pray, and confess, and pray, and witness, and pray, and lament, and pray, and endure …

Truly, Islam and Christianity suit each other perfectly!

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Boko-Haram-children-burned-2

More Christian children burnt alive by Muslims in Nigeria

Posted under Christianity, Islam by Jillian Becker on Friday, March 4, 2016

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  • To paraphrase an old Army truism, someone should tell these folks to “shit in one hand, pray in the other, and see which one fills up faster.”

    • liz

      Great (and true) saying!
      This essay is a great illustration of just what an enormous waste of time prayer is, and how tragic the consequences are of praying and then doing nothing – and of course you’d do nothing – because you are naturally expecting GOD to do something once you’ve informed him of the problem! They never get around to noticing that God never answers them.
      So while Christians dither in prayer, and talk about taking action, Muslims ARE taking action, and murdering them. Meanwhile both sides claim the prize of “martyrdom”! God works in mysterious ways….

      • Bruce

        Oh, yes He does answer! But usually only in little things like when it’s raining and you need a parking spot close to the mall, or you pray that the teacher forgets to ask for your homework because you didn’t do it. Funny how He never answers those prayers for immediate limb regeneration for our wounded warriors and such, eh? Of course, with the Xtians, they’ve got nearly 2000 years worth of professional spin doctors, liars, and glib conmen (aka, apologists/preachers) to explain such things away.

        • liz

          Yes, exactly – two rival, but similar systems – one religious, one secular – but both based on irrational assumptions rather than reality.
          I recall seeing it noted by an Objectivist speaker (can’t recall his name) that most college students tend to go in one of those directions or the other.
          It’s just easier to accept the already established dogmas of either camp than to think independently and actually question anything.

        • Duke of Hazzard

          For religious people, .00001% of prayers being “answered” proves god’s existence! Pathetic!