Archive for Christian

Woman Killed Dog for Chewing Bible; What if They Were Muslim?

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2011 by loonwatch

Miriam Smith Killed Dog For Chewing On Bible: Nephew’s Pit Bull Hanged From Tree, Burned To Death

(Huffington Post)

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Authorities have charged a South Carolina woman with felony animal cruelty, saying she hanged her nephew’s pit bull from a tree with an electrical cord and burned its body because the dog chewed on her Bible.

Animal control officers said Monday that 65-year-old Miriam Smith told them she killed a female dog named Diamond because it was a “devil dog” and she worried it could harm neighborhood children. Authorities said bond wasn’t immediately set for Smith, who remains jailed in Spartanburg County after her weekend arrest.

Officials said she didn’t have an attorney yet.

She faces 180 days to five years in prison if convicted.

Authorities say the remains of the dog were found under a pile of grass with part of an electrical cord around its neck.

 

Allen West Starting the Crusade against Muslims

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2011 by loonwatch

Expect more bellicose rhetoric from Allen West and actual attempts to ban Sharia’ and Muslim religious rights.

From (ThinkProgress)

Rep. Allen West (R-FL), a newly-elected member who has loudly scapegoated Muslims and campaigned on a promise to oppose religious diversity, appeared on Frank Gaffney’s radio program last week. Gaffney, who routinely says that Obama is both a secret Muslim and a member of the “Muslim Brotherhood,” asked West about how the new Republican Congress plans to “take on Sharia as the enemy threat doctrine?”

West said that, although he has not spoken with all of the new members, he hoped that Congress would focus on the “infiltration of the Sharia practice into all of our operating systems in our country as well as across Western civilization.” He explained that targeting Sharia should be part of America’s “national security strategy” and that a response to Sharia would somehow include “tailor[ing]” American “security systems, our political systems, economic systems, our cultural and educational systems, so that we can thwart this”:

ALLEN WEST: So there are many different ways we need to understand this 21st century battlefield, how we can leverage all elements of our nation’s power against —and like I said we need to get away from this nation building focus. I think that is economically hurting us.

GAFFNEY: In terms of understanding our enemy, and I think you’ve done as much as any congressional candidate to help expand the awareness for not only your constituents but others. I count on you to be carrying that on in your new capacity. What is your sense of the willingness of this new Congress to take on Sharia as the enemy threat doctrine?

WEST: Well, I haven’t had the opportunity to sit down with all of the new members, giving all the new members of the freshmen class a phone call to talk to them. I think one of the critical things that we must come together is that there is an infiltration of the Sharia practice into all of our operating systems in our country as well as across Western civilization. So we must be willing to recognize that enemy. We cannot have a national security strategy that does not recognize it in specific and understand its goals and objectives. So once again, we can tailor you know our internal goals and objectives as far as our security systems, our political systems, economic systems, our cultural and educational systems, so that we can thwart this. And it comes back to one of those strategic goals that you mentioned, reducing the sphere of influence of this Sharia you know ideology that is tied into Islam. But I think that is our most threatening part, is the Sharia philosophy.

Listen here:

West also said that he would get rid of the “nation building” aspect of the ‘war on terror.’ Instead, he would prefer a focus on the type of ethnic and religious witch hunts against Muslims that Gaffneyspecializes in. Gaffney of course helped plan the protests against the Park51 community center in Manhattan and galvanized support for the anti-Sharia constitutional amendment in Oklahoma.

 

Maltese man called “Muslim Terrorist” Turned out to be Christian

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2010 by loonwatch
 

Flying while Muslim can be dangerous even if you aren’t actually a Muslim.

‘Muslim terrorist’ on Air Malta plane turns out to be Caribbean Christian

by Noel Grima (Malta Independent)
The story that made the rounds of the world that a Muslim man was apprehended on an Air Malta plane when he persisted in praying out aloud in the aisle just as the plane was taxying to take off at London’s Heathrow Airport, now has to be revised. 

It was a Caribbean Christian man, Maria Busuttil who was on the plane with him, told The Times. And the prayer he was chanting was the ‘Our Father’.

Yet even yesterday on In-Nazzjon, Brian Grech who had a hand in restraining the man, still insisted the man was an Arab Muslim.

Writing on The Times comment pages yesterday, Ahmed Sain wrote: “For all of you who made a comment yesterday on this subject, I think you got it all wrong regarding this man’s religion. Now you guys ask for forgiveness.”

Meanwhile, unbeknown to most Maltese, comments on foreign papers were not all unanimously in favour of the crew’s action to remove the man from the plane. Many said that in a multicultural society, a man might be allowed to pray as his religion orders him to do.

Thus, a Max from Amsterdam wrote on the Der Telegraaf comment blog: “This often happens. Even before 9/11. Then it was no problem. The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen to leave for New York: a Muslim and a Jew side by side were praying. If you’re afraid you must stay home.”

And another person, LLW from Amsterdam too, wrote: “Let the man pray! That was an exaggerated response from the passengers. I hope the praying gentleman can go home again soon.”

And in a comment that in the light of the new developments is particularly interesting, a writer wrote on the comment pages of the German paper Tagespiegel: “The incitement of fear of Islamic terrorism, now makes innocent, devout Muslims into terrorists, when they probably have nothing to do with it.

“Moreover, it is not Islam, it is the man in his interpretation, acting out very, very strange.

“Had another passenger, from another religion, crossed himself several times, and recited the ‘Our Father’ would such panic have broken out among the passengers or would this behaviour have seemed as normal, because that is how the civilised West felt?

“Here there is a lot of ignorance among our leaders, and this results in this fear, which is many times deliberately fomented. It serves a purpose, to justify a war.

“Among the many blind people, the one-eyed man is king. It follows that for 200 Christian passengers, this man must be a Muslim terrorist, he must be. Simple.”

 

Murfreesboro: Attorney Vows to Maintain Fight against Mosque

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on December 20, 2010 by loonwatch

(hat tip: Eric Allen Bell)

ISLAMIC CENTER LAWSUIT: Attorney vows to maintain fight against mosque

The attorney representing residents suing Rutherford County over a proposed mosque solicited the public Friday for help — and money — while pledging to continue the court fight.

“The plaintiffs fully intend to continue to gather facts and evidence and proceed to a final hearing,” Murfreesboro lawyer Joe M. Brandon Jr. states in a “response” sent to media. “It is anticipated that the final hearing will occur after the full completion of discovery. This should be some time over the course of the next year.”

Brandon is representing plaintiffs Kevin Fisher, Lisa Moore and Henry Golczynski who filed suit after the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro acquired site plan approval May 24 from the county’s Regional Planning Commission to build a 52,960-square-foot community center with a mosque on Veals Road off Bradyville Pike southeast of Murfreesboro’s city limits.

The lawsuit challenges whether the county provided sufficient notice to the public about the agenda item and also questions whether Islam is a religion and should be afforded land use rights as with other churches.

Chancellor Robert Corlew Jr. concluded after several days of testimony spread over three months this fall that “Islam is in fact a religion” and found no grounds to issue a temporary restraining order to halt the mosque’s construction.

Brandon, though, notes in his letter that at the conclusion of the temporary hearing, the trial court ruled, ” … we are startled to find that the case advocated by the Defendants as the authoritative holding that Islam is a religion was actually a case wherein the Supreme Court held that display of aChristmas tree with an angel proclaiming ‘Glory to God in the highest’ on the stairway of a county courthouse had the effect of endorsing a Christian message.”

The trial court went on to state, “[w]e stress in our holding that there is a distinction between a legal finding that Islam is a religion compared with a religious finding that Islam is a religion. The religious scholars may debate for a lengthy period of time whether Islam meets their definition of a religion.”

Brandon argued repeatedly during the hearing that the Islamic Center poses a threat to the community based on the tenants of Shariah Law, and therefore should not be deemed a religion. It’s a point that Brandon says he will continue to challenge at the full hearing in the case.

The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, meanwhile, has been charging ahead with its building plans on 15 acres. The congregation hopes to submit more detailed plans to obtain a building permit by March or April, said Saleh Sbenaty, a planning committee member for the Muslim congregation.

“We’re just finishing up the grading,” Sbenaty said during a Friday night phone interview. “The grading is taking more time because of the weather. After the grading is done, we will send the whole package for the building permit.”

Phase I of the building plans will be in the 10,000- to 11,000-square-foot range and include a reception hall that will also serve as a prayer area, an office for the imam (religious leader) and a small meeting room that can also serve as a nursery.

If enough money is available in Phase I, the ICM will also seek to build two outdoor pavilions and a playground between the two, added Sbenaty, an 18-year MTSU professor who teaches courses in electronics and computers for the Engineering Technology Department.

Long-term plans include a formal mosque area for worship, classrooms for weekend religious study, a gym, indoor pool, more offices, a multipurpose sports field, a basketball/tennis court and a private cemetery for ICM members.

Brandon, in addition to vowing to continue efforts to halt the project, implored anyone with information relevant to the case to forward it to his office.

“Additionally, should anyone feel led to make a donation toward attorney’s fees or other mandatory related costs, please give me a call, wherein, these matters can be discussed in depth,” Brandon states.

 

Bradlee Dean: Keith Ellison Pushing Sharia Law through Homosexual Agenda

Posted in Loon Pastors, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2010 by loonwatch

Say what? First it was the Quran swearing controversy, then Ellison was accused of being more dangerous than AlQaeda and now…this.

And can you believe it, Michelle Bachman and other politicians are fundraising for these guys.

Bradlee Dean: Keith Ellison is advancing Sharia law through ‘homosexual agenda’

By Andy Birkey |(Minnesota Independent)

Bradlee Dean of the religious ministry You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International believes Rep. Keith Ellison’s support for LGBT rights is part of his strategy to bring Sharia law to the United States. On his radio show Saturday, Dean said that members of the LGBT community are fools for supporting Ellison and that the Minnesota Democrat is “adamant about overthrowing the United States Constitution.”

Sharia law is the sacred law of Islam and derives its condemnation of homosexuality from the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, as do fellow Abrahamic traditions Christianity and Judaism. As with Christian and Jewish approaches to LGBT issues, Muslim interpretations of  Sharia laws on homosexuality vary widely, ranging from full support to prescribing a death sentence for it.

“I said time and time again that there is a correlation between the Muslims and the homosexual agenda, and we have a couple of fools in the state of Minnesota that are putting a rope around their neck and they just don’t realize it,” said Dean http://below. “Here, let me give it to you this way: Keith Ellison is a Muslim.”

Dean said that Ellison’s support for protections for LGBT people from hate crimes and for same-sex marriage is part of an attempt to overthrow the U.S. Constitution and implement Sharia law.

“Why is he so adamant about overthrowing the Constitution as it is right now? Because if you pay attention to the plow he’s planting the seed,” Dean said. “He’s trying to come through with Sharee [sic] law.”

Raising his voice, he urged his listeners, “Does somebody want to talk to the homosexual community in the state of Minnesota and tell them what he is doing? Go online, folks! You love the homosexuals so much then why don’t you tell them who they’ve appointed as their chairperson? He’s a Muslim!”

He continued, “Hello? Why is he after it? Because he wants to bring in Sharee [sic] law through the homosexual agenda!”

“They are using the homosexuals as a political battering ram to bring forth what? Sharee [sic] law.”

LGBT leaders in the United States are “ignorant,” Dean said, for allowing Ellison to serve as co-chair of the House LGBT Caucus.

“What is Keith up to? I think we have to ask the question, Keith,” said Dean. “I’m just asking the gay communities what’s up with Keith Ellison because they are so foolish, blind and stupid not to figure out that their vice chair is a Muslim. This is no hidden secret, folks. This is in America. Who is this guy working for?”

“Why is this guy advocating the overthrow of the United States Constitution in the state of Minnesota?”

Dean then played an audio clip of an unidentified Muslim who said that Sharia law calls for the execution of homosexuals.

“I would say to the homosexuals: You better keep your eyes peeled. You are playing the fools. I knew there was a correlation. I knew it, I knew it, I knew it. And the homosexuals are using the Muslims to do it, and the Muslims are using the homosexuals to do it. The homosexuals are playing the fool to the Muslims.”

He continued, “That’s how foolish these homosexuals are in Minnesota. God is not mocked. You can’t spit against heaven and not expect to fall upon your own back. And that’s exactly what’s happening to those that want to play the devil’s advocate.”

To Ellison, Dean said, “Keith you can call me any time. Let’s see how much of an American you really are.” He added the Ellison’s office has not returned his calls. Ellison’s office has not yet responded to the Minnesota Independent’s query about whether Dean has called or to offer comment on Dean’s statements.

Ellison has been forthright about his beliefs about Islam and homosexuality, and he has repeatedly said that Islam has taught him the importance of civil rights and social justice.

Earlier this year, Ellison addressed the Unitarian Universalist National Convention in a speech that covered themes of faith, love and abundance. “There’s enough for the straight and the gay,” he said. “There’s enough for the people who were born in America and the new immigrants. There’s enough for the blacks, there’s enough for the whites, there’s enough for the Latinos, there’s enough for the Asians, there’s enough for the Muslims, the Christians, the Jews, the Buddhists, the Hindus! There’s enough, everybody!”

And in an interview with the Muslim Peace Fellowship he stated unequivocally that he opposes violence and discrimination against LGBT people.

“I’m not asking people to embrace homosexuality,” he said. “I’m saying it’s wrong and immoral to kill them, beat them or exclude them from working. You don’t have to like them. Leave ‘em alone. Let them live their lives and let God decide if He will judge them, as He will judge us all. That’s all I’m saying.”

The Minnesota Independent emailed You Can Run But You Cannot Hide for clarification on Dean’s statements about Ellison and whether the group believed Ellison would try to implement Sharia law that would call for the execution of homosexuals.

“Due to the fact that the Muslims are the ones who would enforce Sharia Law and execute homosexuals, and being that Keith Ellison is a Muslim, you should be asking him that question,” a spokesperson replied. “That is our point.”

“I think the problem here is that Bradlee is trying to warn you of your sin before God for your good, and time and time again, you treat Bradlee like he is your enemy for doing so,” the email continued. “He has stuck his neck out for you many times. Bradlee’s heart is out of a sincere and real love to turn all men from sin to God.”

“You should be writing an article about what the Muslims are saying, since they are the ones who want to execute homosexuals. We are here merely to look out for you in that sense. Why do you turn on those who warn you?”

But Dean seemed to applaud Muslims that call for such executions. On his May 15 radio show, Dean said:

“Muslims are calling for the executions of homosexuals in America. This just shows you they themselves are upholding the laws that are even in the Bible of the Judeo-Christian God, but they seem to be more moral than even the American Christians do, because these people are livid about enforcing their laws. They know homosexuality is an abomination.”

Dean and his ministry have close ties to the Republican Party and GOP elected officials and candidates including gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Secretary of State and current state Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, and state Rep. Dan Severson. Rep. Michele Bachmann has fundraised for the group extensively in recent years as well.

 

Ugly Betty actor slays Mom in the name of Jesus; what if he were Muslim?

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2010 by loonwatch

Fans of Ugly Betty, the American dramedy TV series on ABC, were in for quite a shock this week. Actor Michael Brea is being accused of murdering his own mother with a samurai sword while reciting Biblical passages. “Repent! Repent! Sinner! Sinner! You never accepted Jesus!” his neighbor reported hearing at the time the crime took place. Brea is now in police custody and is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, and for good reason. It takes a very evil or very sick mind to do what occurred to Yannick Brea.

An impartial analysis of the situation has led the authorities to believe this is likely a case of mental illness. It seems to be, although we don’t know the details yet. It certainly can’t be used as an example of the inherent violence of Christian teachings. Love thy neighbor, said the Christ. Most people can understand that the actions of a deranged few do not represent the sentiments of the whole religion or the teachings of the founder.

But what if he were Muslim?

Well, if a mentally ill Muslim had murdered people while shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is great), it would be immediately held up as just another example of the essential barbarism of Islam. The very fact that a Muslim commits a crime while shouting God is great is more than enough to indict all Muslims in all times and places for eternity. No context needed. No facts or explanation necessary. But is that fair?

In fact, an example like this did occur and is firmly implanted in the national consciousness. We all remember when Nidal Hasan opened fire on his fellow soldiers while allegedly shouting Allahu Akbar. The anti-Muslim blogosphere sprung into action at the drop of hat, even before basic factsabout his mental state could be discerned, castigating all Muslims everywhere, even those who unmistakably condemned Nidal’s actions and even though Nidal acted in clear violation of mainstream Islamic doctrine. No need for context, background, or an informed frame of reference for interpreting these events. Why bother with burdensome facts when anti-Muslim ideology can explain everything for you? Why worry about anti-Muslim prejudice when you can exploit this tragedy to make obscene amounts of money or win elections while riding the bandwagon of Islamophobic populism? Prejudice pays more than prudence.

I don’t think we’ll be seeing very many people taken seriously if they cite Mrs. Brea’s murder as an example of the intrinsic brutality of Christianity, even though her son allegedly cited scripture and invoked the name of Jesus as he killed his mother. But for some reason a similar objective, nuanced discussion of Islam and its more than 1 billion followers is off the table for many of America’s finest anti-Muslim pundits.

But hey, it’s not personal. It’s just their world view.

 

Pat Robertson’s Organizations Persist in Calls for Probe of Congressional Muslim Staffers

Posted in Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2010 by loonwatch
Pat Robertson

Robertson’s Organizations Persist in Calls for Probe of Congressional Muslim Staffers

by Sarah Posner (ReligionDispatches)

Under the headline, “Calls Rise to Probe Capitol Hill Muslim Prayer Sessions” yesterday, Pat Robertson’s news channel, CBN News, was able to offer only one organization that has called for a probe of the Congressional Muslim Staff Association: Robertson’s own American Center for Law and Justice.

As I’ve reported here and here, after Fox News ran a report claiming that speakers with terrorist ties spoke at Congressional prayer meetings, the ACLJ called for a Justice Department investigation of the CMSA. Suhail Khan, a Muslim Republican who has worked as a staffer for a Republican Congressman and as a political appointee in the Bush administration, and who currently serves on the board of the American Conservative Union,called the Fox report nothing but “anti-Muslim bigotry”and noted that Robertson is “notorious for anti-Islamic comments.”

On its Newswatch program, CBN attempted to create the impression that calls for law enforcement to intervene are somehow on the rise. Yet the only source for the story was Jordan Sekulow, the ACLJ’s Director of International Operations.

“The media didn’t want to report this,” Sekulow asserted, claiming they feared being called Islamophobes or bigots if they reported that the CMSA was hosting terrorist speakers. “When we started talking about this,” said Sekulow, “immediately the left and the kind of pro-Islamic world immediately cries bigot and says, why do you want to investigate? The reason you want to investigate is of course because we’re Muslims.” Sekulow went on to claim that individuals with terror ties were invited to prayer meetings, which, as Khan told me earlier this week, are not official CMSA functions, but are run under the auspices of the House Chaplain. (See theHouse Chaplain’s website for evidence of the prayer meetings being open to the public, like other religious meetings held under the Chaplain’s auspices.) What’s more, neither Fox nor ALCJ have produced evidence any of these individuals were invited by the CMSA; as Khan noted, the prayer meetings are open to the public.

Yet Sekulow went on, “Why we’re calling for an investigation — who was picking these people to speak is what we want to know.” He went on to claim — something already disputed by Khan — that the Council on American Islamic Relations chooses the speakers. “This group,” said Sekulow, referring to the CMSA, “meets under the United States Capitol dome, they actually meet at the United States Capitol, at taxpayer expense. If CAIR is running prayer meetings there, and bringing in known terrorists, the American people deserve to know about it.”

As the interview went on, it became clear that Sekulow’s goal is to end the Muslim prayers at the Capitol by portraying Muslim organizations as necessarily having ties to terrorists, a common smoke and mirrors routine used by the right. “We see now,” he said, “that when we scratch the surface of most Islamic organizations we find something that we don’t hope to find. we find that if you bring in speakers, they’re connected to terrorism.” He identified this as “a problem within Islam. As Christians, we can’t change what’s happening internally in Islam, but we cannot be afraid of exposing the truth of what is happening here in our US Capitol. Our hope is that the truth comes out, that people see the associations here, and that this group isn’t able to meet anymore.”

As I noted on Friday, the vice-president of the CMSA (which, as Khan pointed out, doesn’t organize the prayer meetings but there is overlap between its members and people attending the prayer meetings, obviously) is a staffer for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Sekulow is a prominent Republican activist — he was the National Youth Director for the Bush-Cheney in 2004, and was a consultant to Mitt Romney’s 2008 campaign, to which his father, Jay, the ACLJ’s Chief Counsel, also served as an advisor. Yet Sekulow is claiming that group for which a staffer for the ranking Senate Republican serves as an officer has ties to terrorists. McConnell’s office still has not responded to a request for comment.

 

Ahmed Rehab: Passion and Peril at a Pro-Christian Rally

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 11, 2010 by loonwatch

Muslims in Chicago joined their Christian brethren in condemning and opposing the slaughter of Christians in Iraq. (hat tip: Robert Spencer)

Beyond the Comfort Zone: Passion and Peril at a Pro-Christian Rally

(ahmedrehab.com/blog)

by Ahmed Rehab

Yesterday, CAIR-Chicago staff and interns participated in a rally alongside the Assyrian community of Chicago to condemn violence against Iraqi Christians. The rally was organized in response to the massacre of dozens of Assyrian Christians in Baghdad on October 31st.

It was a tricky decision for us. We knew that there could be anti-Muslim sentiment at the rally that would put is in a precarious position, but we decided that our disdain for the heinous acts of Al Qaeda far exceeded our concern for personal inconvenience.

We decided that the right thing for us to do was to act on our values and our sincere feelings of camaraderie with our fellow human beings in times of anguish. We wanted to raise our voices as Muslims in support of the Assyrian community and against terrorists who purport to act in the name of our faith.

Al Qaeda does not have reverence for any innocent life, including those of Muslims. It is a fact that they have bombed many more Mosques in Iraq than churches.
While we were weary of the possibility that some people at the rally could lash out at us, Muslims-at-large who condemn terrorism, we were not interested in seeing ourselves as victims. The only victims we were prepared to recognize were the 52 innocent souls that were claimed by the recent church bombing, and the many others – Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and otherwise – claimed by terrorism.

And so we set out with signs including “An Attack on Your Church is an Attack on my Mosque,” “American Muslims, Iraqi Christians, One Blood,” “My Brother is an Assyrian,” “We Stand with Iraqi Christians,” and “Muslims for Peace.”

We held our signs up high and marched in solidarity with the predominantly Assyrian Christian crowd.

The reaction we got was mixed.

In an interesting scene that summed up my experience, I was asked by one man if I was a Muslim. I said “Yes, I am.” He then asked, “Am I impure?”

I joked, “I don’t know did you shower this morning?”

He dismissed the joke and asked me if I thought “his blood was impure.” I told him, “why would you expect that, you’ve never met me, I am here supporting you, what about me leads you to ask me such a question?” He told me, “You said you are a Muslim.” I told him, “so what?” He said that Muslims believe this sort of thing. I told him that he had been grossly misinformed, “you’re blood like all innocent blood is holy to me.”

Another man interjected and started yelling that I was “unwanted” there, motioning with his arms for me to leave. As he continued to yell at me, my attention was drawn to something that touched me. A young woman a few yards away leaned down on a stroller she was pushing and started to sob uncontrollably.

At first, I thought it had nothing to do with us but my intuition told me otherwise. I asked here, “what’s wrong, why are you crying?”

She said unable to hold back her tears, “I am so sorry you and your friends have to deal with idiots like that, this man does not represent us, I am so embarrassed. This is so wrong.”

Here I was standing before a stark display of contrasts, extreme animosity on one end and extreme compassion on the other.

In a single powerful moment, I was reminded yet again at the absurdity of those who generalize about any one group of people. Here were two people of the same religion, color, and ethnic background standing side by side rallying for the same cause — and yet they could not be any more different.

I hugged her and tried to comfort her, “Trust me, I know, we have our share of idiots too, everyone has them, most people here have been kind.”

And it was true. Many in the crowd were genuinely happy – almost relieved – to see Muslims standing with them at this rally. Some smiled, some nodded, others simply said “thank you!” It reinforced my feeling that our participation was extremely important.

While there were other incidents – one lady held a cross up to my face and told me I was a “bad Muslim” for condemning terrorism which is “in my Quran”, two people told us that we are going to hell for not accepting Jesus as our Saviour, some guy yelled profanities and was held back by a girl half his size, another called for reciprocal violence – in every single instance, someone else would take a strong stance, telling the others to back off and apologizing.

As we made our way back to the office, we were chased by two girls. “Can I ask you a question?” one of them said. “Can I just give each of you guys a hug?”

We met back in the office for an evaluation.

I learned that my colleagues’ experience mostly mirrored mine.

Despite the bigotry of some, we all felt strong solidarity with most people. We felt as if the Assyrian community, with its good and bad, was our own.

It is of no surprise to any of us that there are some negative feelings among some Arab and Assyrian Christian communities regarding Islam and Muslims. Part of it is understandable to us, given the ugly acts by saboteurs claiming to act in the name of Islam. Part of it is due to the opportunistic work of preachers like father Zakaria Boutros who make a living out of telling Arabic-speaking Christians that Islam is an evil religion. Part of it still is due to the lack of dialogue and engagement between our faith communities, and that was the part we resolved to try to change.

Assyrians have a long and proud history that goes back to one of the earliest civilizations in the world. They live as a religious minority in their indigenous homeland. For centuries, they have coexisted peacefully with their Muslim neighbors. But at other times, especially now, the instability and violence is leaving them feeling frightened for their loved ones and overall vulnerable. Some of them blame Al Qaeda, others demonize all Muslims, and others still blame the United States and its wars.

One thing we must never allow is for the bad amongst us – terrorists, extremists, ideologues of exclusion and hate – to succeed in turning the rest of us against each other. We must condemn them, ostracize them, and disempower them. The way to do that is to strengthen our relations, and stand with one another. That is the only way to spell defeat for the agents of hate.

We must emerge from our comfort zones and stand together as one against all forms of violence, ignorance, and intolerance.

When Christians are attacked, they should NOT have to rally alone. We must rally along with them. When Jews are attacked, they should NOT have to rally alone. When Muslims are attacked, we should NOT have to rally alone.

 

Muslims and Christians Condemn Baghdad Church Massacre

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2010 by loonwatch

United is the only way to defeat terrorism, extremism and occupation which is creating the spring well of terrorism.

Local Muslims and Christians condemn bloody Baghdad church massacre

According to media reports 58 were killed and 75 more injured after Al-Qaeda extremists in suicide vests raided Our Lady of Salvation Syriac Church in Baghdad, Iraq during evening mass on Sunday.

The deaths and injuries occurred after Iraqi Special Forces backed by U.S. troops entered the church while Al-Qaeda extremists held clerics and worshipers hostage in the central Karada neighborhood of Baghdad. Witnesses say the insurgents began killing guards outside a stock exchange in Baghdad before going to the church.  Two young priests and a deacon were killed during the raid.

“I cry for my country that was the best country in the world. They killed these people and for what? Just because they were praying at church. Who killed them? I think who killed them, doesn’t believe in God. If they believed in God they would have never killed these people,” said Pastor Hanna Sullaka of Lutheran Church in Warren and Dearborn during an interfaith gathering at the Islamic House of Wisdom (IHW) in Dearborn Heights on Monday.

According to various sources, the Christian population in Iraq was at 800,000 before the United States invaded in 2003 .  As a result of the continuous terrorist attacks against Christians from the resulting destablization of the country, that number has decreased to 550,000. Sullaka says it’s a fact that Christians are on the verge of extinction in Iraq and several have fled to Iraq’s bordering countries to avoid religious attacks.

More than half Iraq’s Christans left the country particularly after the U.S. invasion in 2003. Those who remain are less than three percent of the population which was more than seven percent in the 1980s according to various news sources.

Some Iraqis criticized their government for not having better security at the church, and believe the incident may have been prevented if there was better security available. In response to the series of attacks on Christians, the Iraqi federal police and army have guarded the fronts of churches during mass for two years.  But no security was outside the church that Sunday.

To raise awareness of the plight of Iraq’s shrinking Christian population, the St. Toma Syrian Catholic Church of Farmington Hills is holding a demonstration outside the United States Eastern District Court of Michigan,  231 Lafayette Blvd, Detroit Michigan  48226 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 8.  According to St. Toma priest Father Toma, more than 1, 000 are expected to attend the demonstration.

Father Toma said the future of Iraqi Christians is uncertain and 55 churches have been bombed and more than nine priests killed since the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003.  ”Christians are terrified of going to church to pray,” he said.

Syriac church official Monsignor Pius Kasha told McClatchy Newspapers the attack is the deadliest in Baghdad since before the March elections.

Other religious leaders at the interfaith event Monday which was held to honor the victims of the barbaric attack, spoke out against terrorism in Iraq.  Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi, the spiritual leader of the IHW, called the church raiders people without faith, dignity or spirit.

“The innocent victims of this tragedy that happened in the church of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad was an attack by a terrorist. This aggression is for people who have lost their faith, their dignity, their spirit and they choose to act as anyone but human beings.  Obviously we condemn what they did. We condemn terrorism in general. We hate terrorism,” he said. Elahi says those who practice acts of terrorism in the name of Islam in reality are the worst enemies of Islam and add fuel to the fires of Islamophobia.

Sullaka says the Christian Iraqi community in the United States has been effective in helping Iraqi Christians but can become more powerful if they join forces to create effective strategies for peace. Sullaka says to do that American Christian Iraqis must first put their differences aside.  ”We can’t say he’s orthodox, he’s Syrian, he’s Chaldean. We have to be one heart. We can become strong, we can get hold of Congress and all parts of the world,” Sullaka said.

During the interfaith event Sullaka also encouraged different faiths to come together.

“We will all pray together, please, raise your right hand all together and pray and say Lord Jesus or the Prophet Moses, Muhammad, together, come on, together, and pray to make peace,” he said.

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)-Michigan Executive Director,  Dawud Walid encourages Iraqi Americans to continue praying for their families in Iraq.  ”CAIR-Michigan strongly condemns the terrorist attack in the Baghdad church. No faith supports such violence against civilians and we pray for the day that Iraqis can worship in peace and no church can be attacked in that historic land,” Walid, also a speaker at the interfaith event said.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Public Affair Council (MPAC) of Washington D.C., a public service agency working for the civil rights of Muslim Americans, released a statement immediately after the massacre strongly condemning the killing of hostages on Sunday.

“The Quran calls for the protection of human life, all houses of worship and religious minorities and yesterday’s attack is an affront to the teachings of Islam and the rich religious diversity if Iraq,” the statement read.

“This violence is not acceptable,” said MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati. “Violence is continuing to drain valuable resources from Iraq, and it is forcing its people to live in fear and with constant strife and devastation. This is one of two incidences of extremists groups attacking other houses of worship. The Qur’an clearly states that the attack on human life and houses of worship is not acceptable.”

 

John Snyder: ‘Jesus Calls for Us to be Armed’

Posted in Feature, Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2010 by loonwatch
The “Gun Saint”

John Snyder, a member of the St. Gabriel Possenti Society, a group that honors the “gun saint” brags that he is designated the “senior rights activist in Washington” by Shotgun News. Snyder recently published a news release on the Christian News Wire saying “we must be armed to fight the Islamists.”

Snyder attempts to argue for the use of handguns on the basis that we are under threat from terrorists. It is the same piggyback and fear-mongering argument used by radical Tea Partiers and scions of Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller to propagate the conspiracy of Muslim menace and threat. The fact is you are more likely to be hit by lightning, killed in a car crash, drowning, fire, or murder  than to be killed by a terrorist in America. From Reason Magazine,

But how afraid should Americans be of terrorist attacks? Not very, as some quick comparisons with other risks that we regularly run in our daily lives indicate…in 2003 about 45,000 Americans died in motor accidents out of population of 291,000,000. So, according to the National Safety Council this means your one-year odds of dying in a car accident is about one out of 6500. Therefore your lifetime probability (6500 ÷ 78 years life expectancy) of dying in a motor accident are about one in 83.

What about your chances of dying in an airplane crash? A one-year risk of one in 400,000 and one in 5,000 lifetime risk. What about walking across the street? A one-year risk of one in 48,500 and a lifetime risk of one in 625. Drowning? A one-year risk of one in 88,000 and a one in 1100 lifetime risk. In a fire? About the same risk as drowning. Murder? A one-year risk of one in 16,500 and a lifetime risk of one in 210. What about falling? Essentially the same as being murdered. And the proverbial being struck by lightning? A one-year risk of one in 6.2 million and a lifetime risk of one in 80,000. And what is the risk that you will die of a catastrophic asteroid strike? In 1994, astronomers calculated that the chance was one in 20,000. However, as they’ve gathered more data on the orbits of near earth objects, the lifetime risk has been reduced to one in 200,000 or more.

What are the odds of dying in a terrorist attack?

So how do these common risks compare to your risk of dying in a terrorist attack? To try to calculate those odds realistically, Michael Rothschild, a former business professor at the University of Wisconsin, worked out a couple of plausible scenarios. For example, he figured that if terrorists were to destroy entirely one of America’s 40,000 shopping malls per week, your chances of being there at the wrong time would be about one in one million or more. Rothschild also estimated that if terrorists hijacked and crashed one of America’s 18,000 commercial flights per week that your chance of being on the crashed plane would be one in 135,000.

Even if terrorists were able to pull off one attack per year on the scale of the 9/11 atrocity, that would mean your one-year risk would be one in 100,000 and your lifetime risk would be about one in 1300. (300,000,000 ÷ 3,000 = 100,000 ÷ 78 years = 1282) In other words, your risk of dying in a plausible terrorist attack is much lower than your risk of dying in a car accident, by walking across the street, by drowning, in a fire, by falling, or by being murdered.

For Snyder and his ilk these facts obviously don’t matter. Why let facts get in the way when you need to drudge up support for liberal gun laws? Can we say that Snyder is motivated by religious sentiment and that he in fact feels that he is religiously obligated to own a gun?

Yes.

In his “news release” Snyder writes,

Snyder warned, “Those who work against this freedom in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere should beware. If it so happens that people are murdered because politically correct elitists spoke and worked successfully to prevent citizens from getting, carrying and using self-defense guns, the blood of the innocent will be on their hands.

“Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us that, ‘A man without a sword must sell his cloak and buy one,’ according to Luke (22:36). It’s time to take all of His words to heart.”

Ominous words from Snyder, but does this comport with Christian teaching? Is the old song, “Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition” on the mark? Imagine if a Muslim had said something similar about Muslim teaching requiring Muslims to own guns, there would be no doubt that individuals in the media and the usual anti-Muslim suspects would be saying that this is the correct interpretation of the religion and therefore Islam is a violent Faith.

 

Meet the Lord’s Resistance Army, Fighters for Jesus

Posted in Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2010 by loonwatch

(read the whole article at WhatIfTheyWereMuslim.com)

The specter of terrorism is haunting the continent of Africa. In one of Africa’s longest running insurgencies, a rebel group is wanted for terrible war crimes. Infamous for regional atrocities including brutal massacres of innocent civilians, four African nations in conjunction with the African Union are now moving to reclassify this group, currently considered a rebellion, to the status of terrorist insurgents in an effort to bolster greater international support and cooperation.

In the last two years alone, this group of terrorists has killed about 2,000 people and displaced over 400,000 according to the United Nations. These terrorists cite the sacred scripture of a major world religion and believe they are fighting in a holy cause to overthrow infidel governments and replace them with God’s law. But who are they?

If you’ve been watching Fox News like many Americans, the answer couldn’t be easier: Muslims, of course. After all, Fox News anchor Brian Kilmeade recently proclaimed, “All terrorists are Muslims.” No doubt many in the anti-Muslim blogosphere agreed with his “factual” statement (at least before he was forced to make a half-hearted pro forma apology). But if you guessed Muslims, you’d be wrong. No, these terrorists aren’t fighting for Allah. They’re fighting for the Lord Jesus Christ (or so they claim, but we don’t think this is what Christ taught).

Meet the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)

Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports via Yahoo News.

LIBREVILLE (AFP) – Central African countries plagued by the brutal rebellion of the Lord’s Resistance Army are working to reclassify the group as terrorists, the African Union said on Saturday.

At a meeting this week in the Central African Republic aimed at promoting a joint approach to the LRA, participants agreed to take steps to have the LRA classified as terrorists, rather than rebels, by the AU.

This would give affected countries greater access to international funds and require increased levels of judicial cooperation.

The group has killed about 2,000 people in the last two years, and displaced more than 400,000, according to the UN.

Representatives from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan met in Bangui on Wednesday and Thursday, along with Kenya, where they also agreed to step up joint military action.

“Participants agreed to the following concrete measures: the creation of a joint centre of operations, the creation of a joint taskforce to lead actions against the LRA, and the deployment of joint border patrols,” the AU said in a statement.

The LRA emerged in 1998 in northern Uganda as a rebel movement dedicated to overthrowing the east African country’s government and establishing a regime to uphold the Biblical Ten Commandments, but it was largely put down in its own country.

Today it is infamous for regional atrocities against civilians, including massacres, and its leaders are wanted for war crimes. Uganda launched a joint raid with DR Congo troops against it in December 2008, but failed to crush it or capture its chief, Joseph Kony.

 

What if they Were Muslim?: “Christian Terrorist” Arrested for Bomb Plot

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , on September 23, 2010 by loonwatch

A self-declared Christian Terrorist, who refers to himself as a the “Christian Osama Bin Laden” was arrested for plotting to bomb an abortion clinic.

The article from Jasmine Sawarda has some interesting and on point commentary:

So-called “Christian Terrorist” Arrested for Alleged Plot to Bomb a Women’s Clinic

Published September 12, 2010 by: Jasmine Sawarda

Maybe Someone Should Tell Justin Carl Moose that “All Terrorists Are Muslim”

According to Fox News Affiliate WCCB, Concord, North Carolina resident Justin Carl Moose was arrested for using a social networking website to call for the destruction of a women’s clinic in the state,

and for allegedly meeting with an unknown individual to advise him or her about how to make and use explosives to target and destroy a women’s clinic that also provides abortion services.

NBC News Affiliate WECT goes into further detail in regards to Moose’s use of the social networking site, Facebook. Moose allegedly posted a caption under one of his pictures that says “whatever you may think about me, you’re probably right. Extremist, Radical, Fundamentalist…? Yep! Terrorists…? Well…. I prefer the term ‘freedom Fighter’. ‘End abortion by any means necessary and at any cost’. ‘Save a live, Shoot an abortionist’ “.

News 14 Concord goes into further detail, noting the following alleged quotes attributed to Moose in the Complaint filed against him:

“There are few problems in life that can’t be solved with the proper application of high explosives :)”.

Said he was part of the “Army of God”.

Moose also called himself the “Christian counterpart of Osama bin Laden”.

In addition to the above statements, Moose also linked a website to his Facebook wall that has a recipe to make a bomb.

In fact, WCCB goes above and beyond the call of duty and posts a disclaimer at the end of their report that states a “Criminal Complaint is a probable cause charging document. Every defendant accused of committing a federal crime has a Constitutional right to be indicted by a federal grand jury. The charges are only allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty.” WCCB goes even one step further and makes not one mention of the fact that Moose considers himself to be a Christian, as evident by his numerous Facebook posts.

 

Roman Conaway: Vet Threatens Muslims and Obama in lead to Standoff

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2010 by loonwatch
Roman Conaway Facebook page (Riverfronttimes)

Roman Conaway, a veteran in the US army with explosives training is an ardent Christian, he lists the Bible as the “only book” he has ever read. He has made anti-Islam and anti-government threats and in the lead up to his most recent standoff with the police in which he took his wife hostage he made crazy, threatening calls to St.Louis area Muslims prompting a visit from the FBI.

This is a manifestation of a possible threat we have been talking about for months now, the convergence of “armed and loaded” veterans who do not leave their animus towards Islam and Muslims on the battlefield but also bring it home, either joining groups in the anti-Muslim movement or acting as lone wolves. In this instance we had the overlapping of anti-Muslim and anti-Obama/government feelings, an actualization that should make the Department of Homeland Security look seriously at updating their document on the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism by including anti-Muslim groups.

Standoff over: Threats to president, Muslims lead Fairview Heights man to take hostages with fake suicide belt

BY JACQUELINE LEE – News-Democrat

50-year-old man with a suicide belt wrapped around his waist, with wires coming out of it and attached to a curling iron he claimed was a triggering device, surrendered to FBI and Secret Service agents Wednesday morning after a standoff that was sparked by his alleged threats to Muslims and President Barack Obama.

The man surrendered at 2:15 a.m. Wednesday, shortly after releasing his wife and son.

Roman Conaway, 50, of 9030 Summit Drive in Fairview Heights, was arrested on suspicion of threatening the president and law enforcement with an explosive device, according to FBI Special Agent in Charge Stu McArthur.

The drama began unfolding Tuesday on Summit Drive as well as on the social networking website Facebook. Conaway posted vague threats against Muslims, and later his family members pleaded for him to end the standoff.
Conaway on Tuesday called members of the Muslim community in St. Louis, making wild threats against them and against President Obama, McArthur said. Those community members called the FBI about 1 p.m. Tuesday.

The seven-hour standoff started after the FBI and Secret Service went to Conaway’s home at 9030 Summit Drive about 7 p.m. and were greeted by him outfitted with the belt packed with blocks of what looked like C4 explosives, wires and a curling iron. He pointed to two 55-gallon drums and said the curling iron was a remote triggering device that would activate if he were shot or attacked.

“We were quite surprised to see the props,” McArthur said.

McArthur said they heard Conaway had explosives training and that he was ex-military, which they believed added some credence to his threats.

The blocks on the belt turned out to be Play-Doh. The barrels were filled with water.
Fairview Heights Police Lt. Steve Evans said that by about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday police began evacuating homes in the neighborhood.

After federal agents went to the home, “It quickly evolved into a confrontational situation,” Evans said.
Evans said police were able to see the man and the woman during the standoff because they were outside the home. But as of midnight, police had not been able to determine whether he in fact had explosives.

“We’ve had a visual on everybody there, and everybody seems to be OK,” Evans said. “The man has been verbally confrontational, but there has been no other aggressive action. We’ve taken precautions, but there’s nothing to substantiate claims that there are explosives.”

Evans said another man was at the scene, though it appeared that man was not being held against his will. The two men and the woman were on the lawn of the residence. Police were getting close enough to talk to the suspect, who was “physically detaining” the woman, Evans said.

McArthur later said the woman was Conaway’s wife and the other man was his son.

“No stone is left unturned and every lead is investigated until there is no threat to national security,” McArthur said.

Conaway posted remarks about the situation earlier Tuesday on Facebook.

At about 5 p.m., Conaway wrote: “I need everbody with a camera phone or video phone or video cameras to come to 9030 Summit Drive in Fairview Heights, Illinois. The media and your government think this is a joke. I’m not joking.”

His sister responded: “no joke… and ugh! BRO???????????? :(
She also wrote: “who will I share my Bday with now if you dont’ pull through this! I LOVE YOU… I understand…. but I am sad!!!!!!!!!!!! :(

His niece pleaded with him not to follow through on the threat. “uncle jr.. please dnt do this.. ur my favorite uncle :( i love u very much.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Conaway wrote that he was going to burn a Quran, and added that “6 other CDs will be released upon my death or arrest against other countries on the Internet. this is not a joke.”

Conaway’s writings indicate he had been involved recently in a child-custody dispute.

He wrote on Aug. 24: “there is no way judge kelly is a christian judge. so i guess god will punish him to the fullest of his wrath.”

Also on Aug. 24, he wrote about having been awake for 92 hours straight: “opps typo well what the h… Been awake over 92hr.im lucky i can see the keyboard doe!”

In his biographical information on Facebook, Conaway states that he’s “anti gov” and that “they are way overpaid.” It also shows a like for blues and guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan and states under favorite books: “bible only book ive ever read.”

St. Clair County court records showed one minor traffic conviction for Conaway and no other arrests.
His relatives said some of his family members were in Fairview Heights and working with police Tuesday night to try to end the standoff.

Residents of the area were evacuated to the Sterling Baptist Church on Bunkum Road. The evacuation of residents was complete by 10 p.m.

 

Pastor who Wants to Burn Korans uses N-word

Posted in Feature, Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2010 by loonwatch

Pastor Terry Jones’ face is becoming all too familiar these days. The Harley Davidson riding, handle bar mustachioed loon pastor has not only called for the Koran to be burned but also produced this highly bizarre video,

We know now that the currency that Pastor Jones thrives on and attempts to capitalize on is “shock” coupled with demagoguery. Does the white haired Jones really not understand why it is offensive for a White person to say the N-word?

He surely remembers the Civil Rights movement and the Jim Crow era, doesn’t he? He plays naive in the beginning of the video, playing off of the dictionary definition of the N-word but ignores or just plain fails to mention the historical import of the N-word, how it was employed by Whites to demean, subjugate, humiliate and scorn Blacks.

This video is particularly interesting when we came across this article at the Friendly Atheist site that questioned Jones on whether he has been treated unfairly in the media,

Have any of the media reports of this event portrayed you unfairly or inaccurately? Would you like to set the record straight on any particular issue?

We have been accused of being racist. We are not attacking a race. In other words, we are not attacking the Moslem. We love the Moslems and hope that they would come to true salvation. What we are attacking is Islam, the religion, and Sharia law, the political system.

Not a racist? What do you think?

 

The Daily Show Takes on Murfreesboro Mosque Controversy

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2010 by loonwatch

Jon Stewart’s Daily Show continues to take on the mosque controversy. this time Aasif Mandvi was in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the site of a different mosque controversy.

Rick Sanchez Interviews Pastor Terry Jones of Burn the Koran Day

Posted in Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 3, 2010 by loonwatch

Rick Sanchez interviews the pastor behind the “burn the Koran day.”

The guy is a definite moron.

A good article from Think Progress on this whole episode.

Pastor Hosting ‘International Burn A Quran Day’: ‘We Have Nothing Against Muslims’

On September 11, 2010, the extremist evangelical Dove World Church — whose pastor, Terry Jones, has written a book called “Islam Is Of The Devil” — plans to host “International Burn A Quran Day,” when it will burn Muslims’ sacred text and encourage others across the world to do so as well. Churchmember Wayne Sapp has even posted an instructional video that explains how and why to burn the Islamic text.

CNN host Rick Sanchez invited Jones on his show yesterday to ask him about the inflammatory action. When Sanchez pressed Jones about why he would try to anger the world’s Muslims by burning their sacred text, the evangelical pastor replied, “Well, for one thing, to us, the book is not sacred,” provoking laughter from the CNN host.

Jones later went on to explain, “What we are also doing by the burning of the Quran, we’re saying stop, stop to Islam, stop to Islamic law, stop to brutality. We have nothing against Muslims, they are welcome in our country.” When Sanchez asked him how he would feel if Muslims burned the Bible, Jones admitted he wouldn’t like it but emphasized that it was his “right” to burn the Islamic text because “we live in America”:

SANCHEZ: Do you know how many Muslims there are in the world?

JONES: I think there are 1.5 billion.

SANCHEZ: Yeah. I ask you that because that’s a very big number. Why would you want to do this to 1.5 billion people by burning their most sacred book? That’s crazy.

JONES: Well, for one thing, to us, the book is not sacred.

SANCHEZ: But it is to them, it’s sacred to them. […]

JONES: What we’re also doing by the burning of the Quran on 9/11 is we’re saying stop. Stop to Islam. Stop to Islamic law. Stop to brutality. We have nothing against Muslims, they are welcome in our country. […]

SANCHEZ: How would you feel if a Muslim said to you, what you just said to them? I have no problem with you Mr. Christian, you’re welcome in my country, but I’m burning your Bible.

JONES: I would not like it. But it’s our right. We live in America!

The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), the nation’s largest body of evangelicals, put out a statement yesterday condemning Dove World’s actions. Quoting Thessalonians, NAE President Leith Anderson invoked the Bible’s teachings that Christians should “always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.”

The Dove World Church has made a name for itself by engaging in a host of attention-seeking tactics to preach their hate. In the past, the congregation compelled children to wear t-shirts that bore the slogan “Islam is of the devil.” Earlier this year, they held an unsuccessful campaign to stop the election of Gainesville’s first openly gay mayor by posting a “No homo mayor” sign. Despite their failure to stop the mayor’s election, they plan to hold a protest on the steps of City Hall in August.

 

Church Forces Girl to Apologize After Being Raped, What if they were Muslim?

Posted in Loon Media, Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2010 by loonwatch
Tina Anderson

We have often heard about horror stories from Saudia Arabia where a woman is raped and along with her attacker is accused of committing fornication and then flogged or at least sentenced to be flogged. Some might think that this sort of thing could never happen anywhere else, but something equally egregious occurred here in the USA.

A Christian church found out that one of its parishioner raped a fellow parishioner twice, impregnating her. What did they do? They sheltered the rapist, made him apologize for raping the girl and made the girl apologize for becoming pregnant.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/user/TheYoungTurks#p/u/7/V0hftd5B_Io 350 300]

Police: Girl raped, then relocated

After being raped and impregnated by a fellow churchgoer more than twice her age, a 15-year-old Concord girl was forced by Trinity Baptist Church leaders to stand before the congregation to apologize before they helped whisk her out of state, according to the police.

While her pastor, Chuck Phelps, reported the alleged rape in 1997 to state youth officials, Concord police detectives were never able to find the victim. The victim said she was sent to another church member’s home in Colorado, where she was home-schooled and not allowed to have contact with others her age. It wasn’t until this past February that the victim, who is now 28, decided to come forward after reading about other similar cases, realizing for the first time it wasn’t her fault that she had been raped, she told the police.

The police arrested Ernest Willis, 51, of Gilford, last week in connection with the case, accusing him of raping the girl twice – once in the back seat of a car he was teaching her to drive in and again after showing up at her Concord home while her parents were away. He was charged with four felonies – two counts of rape and two counts of having sex with a minor, court records show.

In a statement to the police, the victim said Willis came to her home in the summer of 1997 without warning.

“He said he wanted to talk to me about something so I let him in the house,” she wrote. “He locked the door behind him and pushed me over to the couch. I had a dress on and he pulled it off. I pushed my hands against his shoulders and said ‘No,’ but he didn’t stop.”

At the time of the alleged rape, Phelps was in touch with the police, who told him to contact the Division for Children, Youth and Families.

But moving the girl out of state prevented the police from collecting evidence or a statement, the police said yesterday.

“Without a victim, it makes it very difficult to have a case,” said Lt. Keith Mitchell. “That basically made the investigation very difficult.”

At the time, Willis also refused to give a statement, police records show.

So for 13 years, a file on the case sat closed and marked “unresolved” at the Concord police station.

Police records do not show whether detectives asked church leaders to help them get in contact with the victim or if information was withheld.

“If somebody tried to cover this up or not cover this up, that’s a separate issue,” Mitchell said.

Phelps did not return a message seeking comment yesterday. He no longer works at the church.

“The leadership of Trinity Baptist Church reported this alleged crime within 24 hours of hearing the accusations on Oct. 8, 1997,” said spokesman Peter Flint from a prepared statement. “We continue in our commitment to cooperate with authorities so that justice is served.”

‘Completely in shock’

The victim said she came forward after getting in touch with Jocelyn Zichterman, who runs an online group for victims of church abuse.

In a seven-page statement to the police, the victim recounted the moments leading up to her departure from New Hampshire.

At 14, she began babysitting for Willis, a well-known member of the church. She told the police she would often stay the night if he got home late.

Just over a year later, he offered to give her driving lessons. While in the parking lot of a Concord business, Willis asked her to pull over to switch seats, she told the police.

But instead he pulled her into the backseat and raped her, according to a statement to the police.

In the summer of 1997, Willis raped her again, this time while at her home while her mother was out, according to police records.

“I was completely in shock, but too scared to go and tell anyone because I thought I would get blamed for what happened,” she said.

Over the next few months, the girl became suspicious she was pregnant. She called Willis, who brought over a pregnancy test that came up positive, she told the police.

“He asked me if I wanted him to take me to a neighboring state where underage abortions were legal . . . and he would pay for an abortion,” she told the police. “He then asked me if I wanted him to punch me in the stomach as hard as he could because that might cause a miscarriage.”

She declined both.

‘Church discipline’

The victim told her mother about the pregnancy. Soon after, Phelps was also alerted.

The victim said Phelps told her she would be put up for “church discipline,” where parishioners go before the congregation to apologize for their sins.

She asked why. “Pastor Phelps then said that (Willis) may have been 99 percent responsible, but I needed to confess my 1 percent guilt in the situation,” the victim told the police.

“He told me that I should be happy that I didn’t live in Old Testament times because I would have been stoned.”

Fran Earle, the church’s former clerk, witnessed the punishment session.

At a night meeting of the church’s fellowship in 1997, Phelps invited Willis to the front of the room. Willis apologized to the group for not being faithful to his wife, Earle said.

“I can remember saying to my husband, I don’t understand it’s any of our business why this is being brought up,” Earle said.

Phelps then told parishioners a second matter was at hand; he invited the victim to apologize for getting pregnant.

“I can still see the little girl standing up there with this smile on her face trying to get through this,” Earle said.

A day after the session, Earle called the pastor’s wife, who said the victim had decided not to press charges for statutory rape.

“You’ve got to understand, we trusted our pastor and his wife to be telling us the truth,” Earle said. “They told us it had been reported. He reported it as a consensual act between a man and a woman. Well, I didn’t know a 15-year-old was a woman.”

Earle, who left the church in 2001 after 19 years, said it was regular to see young girls who were pregnant called to the front of the congregation to be humiliated.

Rob Sims, another former member, said the discipline sessions were formulaic – Phelps would read Bible verses, give a limited overview of what happened and then each person would read a statement.

“(The) statement agreed that they had done wrong and why they ‘now believed’ that they had sinned,” he said. “Then Pastor Phelps would give a few closing remarks and then a vote would be taken to remove the guilty party from membership or to keep them in membership but under discipline, or something to that effect.”

The police said the victim’s family asked for her to be moved to Colorado.

“I think that she clearly did not want to go to Colorado, and I’m quite sure she expressed that to the church, her mother and the pastor,” said Concord police Detective Chris DeAngelis. “However, she was a juvenile. Her mom requests assistance and that was what they came up with.”

Mitchell said the police are looking at pressing other charges.

Willis was released on $100,000 personal recognizance bail. He faces an arraignment June 16 in Concord District Court.

Trent Spiner can be reached at 369-3306 or tspiner@cmonitor.com

 

Ergun Mehmet Caner: Another “ex-Terrorist” Exposed

Posted in Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 10, 2010 by loonwatch

ergun-caner

If you ever wanted proof that the Christian right-wing is filled with opportunists and charlatans who will exploit the masses and smear others for their own diabolical ends look no further than Ergun “Mehmet” Caner. This guy jumped onto the bandwagon of anti-Muslim haters, created a powerful (and false) testimony about being an ex-terrorist and laughed all the way to the bank until all the lies caught up to him. (hat tip: iSherif)

Christian Right’s Favorite Muslim Convert Exposed as Jihadi Fraud

By Peter Montgomery

Ergun Caner’s rise to the top of conservative evangelical celebrity — and to the presidency of the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell — was fueled by how aggressively he capitalized on the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, to portray himself as a personal example of the power of Jesus to save even someone raised as a jihadist, which he claimed to be.

There’s only one problem with that part of Caner’s story: it appears not to be true.

In 2001, Caner was pastoring a church in Colorado. After 9/11, he became a hot commodity on the speaking circuit as someone who knew about the evils of Islam firsthand. Before the shock waves from the terror attacks had died down, he was lacing his sermons with his own tale of having been raised in Turkey as the son of a religious leader and trained in a madrassa to wage jihad against Americans.

He said he’d learned about America from TV shows — “Dukes of Hazzard” in some tellings, “Dallas” or “Andy Griffith” in others. He talked about learning English after moving to Brooklyn as a teenager. His personal testimony was used to sell books and videotapes. In one 2001 sermon, “From Jihad to Jesus,” he said he didn’t know much about Christians the first 17 years of his life because “there’s not that many of them in Turkey.” One CD was until recently marketed this way: “Do you believe God can change the heart of a hardened terrorist? Former Muslim Ergun Caner, who came to America to be a terrorist, shares his testimony of how he came to know Jesus Christ.”

All that made for great post-9/11 storytelling. And it helped Caner and his brother, Emir, sell a lot of books. (In 2002 they published and promoted Unveiling Islam: An Insider’s Look at Muslim Life and Beliefs, one of many books bearing the Caner name.) In 2005, Caner was appointed to his current post as president of Liberty University Theological Seminary.

In recent months, a group of Muslim and Christian bloggers have made an airtight case against many of Caner’s fabrications using the kind of documentation — videos, podcasts, recorded sermons — the digital age makes possible.

The Life Stories of Ergun Mehmet Caner

Here’s the basic outline of Ergun Caner’s actual life story, as told in some of his books and public appearances and pieced together from public records in recent months by bloggers. Ergun Caner was born in 1966 in Sweden to a Swedish mother and Turkish father. His parents settled in Ohio a few years later and were divorced when Caner was 8. Caner lived with his mother and spent time and religious holidays with his father.

His parents tussled over the terms of the divorce settlement and the degree to which his Muslim father would control his religious upbringing. As a teenager, Caner became a Christian. His father disowned him after his conversion, but his brothers, mother and grandmother also eventually became Christians. Caner earned undergraduate and graduate degrees (some of which he misstated until a recent bio revision on Liberty’s Web site), and entered the ministry.

Before 2001, he seems to have gone by Ergun Michael Caner or E. Michael Caner — or Butch Caner, which is what he says his wife calls him. Ergun Michael Caner is the name on his concealed carry gun permit, issued in 2009 by the Commonwealth of Virginia. But after 2001, Caner’s middle name, Michael, was replaced with the exotic-to-American-ears “Mehmet” on the covers of his books.

Ergun Caner is unquestionably a polished and entertaining performer. He stands out among conservative evangelicals with defiant rhetoric designed to elicit “did he really say that?” titters and a frisson of naughtiness from his audience. Part of Caner’s performing persona is his own brand of shock humor, which often relies on racial, ethnic and sexist humor. Speaking to one largely white audience, Caner joked about worship in black churches, where he said they pass the plate 12 times, women wear hats the size of satellite dishes and men wear blue suits that match their shoes and a handkerchief that matches their car. One black Baptist preacher asked for an apology.

At a conference in Seattle a few years ago, Caner joked about the Mexican students at Liberty this way:

“The Mexican students and I get along real well. They’re my boys. I always joke with ‘em, I say ‘Man, if I ever adopt, I want to adopt a Mexican because I need work done on my roof. [laughter], and, and uh, I got a big lawn….

At an Ohio men’s conference in 2007, he got the audience whooping and shouting with this gem:

“Dr. Caner, do you believe in women behind the pulpit? My answer is well, yeah, of course, how are they going to vacuum back there unless they get behind it….[laughter]…..and that’s going to be in half of your pulpits next Sunday. FEEL FREE!!! I LOVE THAT LINE!! But you know one line like that shuts it all up, ’cause they’re not going to talk about it, and they’re not going to talk to you for a while, which is good, which is good.

Sin and Redemption

The human story of sin and redemption is a fundamental theme in Christianity. When stars of the conservative evangelical movement have succumbed to the lure of sexual temptation, they have often won forgiveness on the force of a public confession. It has worked for politicians as well as preachers. So why is Ergun Caner, under fire for lying about the life story that catapulted him to evangelical stardom, refusing to repent and passing up the chance to earn redemption? And why is Liberty University supporting his stonewalling?

Since ascending to the helm of Liberty’s theological seminary, Caner has tripled student enrollment, due in no small part to his celebrity. That’s given him a prominent platform from which to speak and publish. It’s also given him some powerful allies with a strong incentive to protect his reputation. Rather than admitting that Caner lied about his upbringing in ways that made his “from jihad to Jesus” story (not to be confused with a book by that title by Jerry Rassamni) more compelling and marketable, Caner and Liberty University have hunkered down, portraying Caner as the victim of persecution and lashing out at his critics. At the same time, they’ve been working to strip some incriminating material from the Internet.

That’s going to keep the story boiling in the Baptist — and Muslim –blogosphere. And some think it’s a disastrous course for Caner, for Liberty, and for the religion and movement they represent.

It was a 20-something Muslim blogger, Mohammed Khan, who started bringing attention to problems with Caner’s public “testimony.” Khan believes Caner is out to give Muslims a bad name, and his Web site, fakeexmuslims.com, has used YouTube commentaries of Caner on video to challenge Caner’s expertise on Islam and to question whether Caner was, as he insists, a “devout” Muslim. (As this story was being prepared, many of those were taken down at least temporarily by a copyright claim.)

But that question hasn’t generated nearly as much interest among Christian bloggers as the easily verifiable discrepancies in Caner’s personal story. It’s especially troubling, they say, because that story is tied to the story he tells about the power of the gospel, the story that fueled his rise to a position of authority.

Here’s how Oklahoma pastor and blogger Wade Burleson summarized it, disputing Caner’s claims:

The myth Dr. Caner has created about himself seems now to be unraveling. He never came to America “via Beirut and Cairo.” He has never been trained as a fundamentalist Muslim. He has never had been a jihadist. He has never debated top Muslim scholars, in Nebraska or anywhere else. It is impossible for any of us to understand why someone would fabricate or embellish his past, but there’s a great deal of money to be made selling books and DVDs about Islam in post 9/11. Who’s a better expert on the subject than a radical jihadist who has converted to faith in Jesus Christ, right?

Here’s how Tom Chantry, pastor of Christ Reformed Baptist Church in Milwaukee puts it:

Preachers are witnesses to the gospel of Christ, and like all witnesses, when they are compromised they weaken the case. Furthermore, no witness can do more damage to his own case than an expert witness….When a preacher allows himself to deceive in any way he invites the sinner to pounce upon his error and heap scorn upon the gospel. Embellishment from the pulpit is therefore a deadly error which may do inestimable damage to the immortal souls of our fellow men. What are we to think of any preacher who regularly and repeatedly tells stories which are not true and publishes facts which are not facts?

Baptist blogger Tom Rich recalls being in the pews at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, when Caner came to speak just six weeks after the 9/11 attacks. When he started reading about the Caner controversy recently, he went back and listened to that sermon, and it confirmed what he remembered: With people still reeling from the terror attacks, Caner portrayed himself as someone who had been trained to carry out that kind of attack on America. It made for a powerful testimony.

Now, Rich says, he believes Caner was simply being opportunistic:

Unbelievable. Standing in front of shell-shocked Christians after 9/11, and Caner betrays their confidence by lying about where he was raised, where he learned English, and when he came to America. That is deception. A man that is misusing the pulpit to purposely mislead people about who he is and where he is from has no business being in the pulpit.

But several of Caner’s most vocal critics have said they’re not trying to get him fired — they just want him to tell the truth and apologize to those he deceived. But Liberty University officials have apparently decided it’s more important to protect the Ergun Caner brand. Southern Baptists and Liberty University have invested a lot in Caner’s persona, and now, in the words of one blogger, he’s “too big to fail.”

Back in February, in an effort to brush the controversy aside, Caner put out a statement some of his defenders characterize as an admission or apology. Here’s a portion of what it said:

I have never intentionally misled anyone. I am sure I have made many mistakes in the pulpit in the past 20-plus years, and I am sure I will make some in the future. For those times where I misspoke, said it wrong, scrambled words, or was just outright confusing, I apologize and will strive to do better.

This statement satisfied some people who want the controversy to go away, but it only inflamed others. Trying to pass off his false claims as mistakes feels to some critics like compounding the original lies with equally and embarrassingly transparent new ones. Caner has since pulled that statement from his Web site, but it’s still online at a Southern Baptist news site.

The Persecution of Ergun Caner

The current controversy about Caner’s “embellishments” is not the first one the pugnacious Caner has found himself in. He’s been part of sometimes heated debate over Calvinist theology within the Southern Baptist Convention. He’s a critic of one evangelical strategy for proselytizing to Muslims, and in February he called the president of the denomination’s International Mission Board a liar, for which he has since apologized. His word for fellow Baptists who might complain about Glenn Beck, a Mormon, being asked to speak at Liberty’s graduation? “Haters.”

Caner and his backers have energetically played the religious persecution card and attacked the motives and even faith of his critics. Caner wrote in a memo to Liberty faculty that “I never thought I would see the day when alleged ‘Christians’ join with Muslims to attack converts.” Both Khan and Baptist bloggers who continue to call for Caner to come clean have been barraged with hostile commentary.

Pastor Wade Burleson says that when one of his congregants, blogger Debbie Kaufman, first asked him about the Caner controversy, he told her he wasn’t interested. She poked around on her own and wrote a post asking questions about some of the discrepancies in Caner’s record. The response from Caner and his supporters was swift.

Burleson says he got an urgent call from someone insisting he get Kaufman to take down her post, which the caller said was putting Caner’s life and family in jeopardy. Startled, Burleson read the post and was astonished to discover that Kaufman was only asking questions about Caner’s truthfulness. He said as much in a comment on her blog. But the pressure intensified; Burleson says Caner even called Burleson’s father to put pressure on him.

Liberty University pulled Caner’s disputed bio, and put up a stripped-down version that reportedly was personally approved by the chancellor. Other incriminating or embarrassing materials have been pulled offline after Caner critics called attention to them. Focus on the Family, for example, broadcast Caner’s 2001 “From Jesus to Jihad” sermon on its April 26, 2010 program. In that sermon, Caner said he didn’t know much about Christians the first 17 years of his life because “there’s not that many of them in Turkey or in Sweden.” But that broadcast has since disappeared from the online Focus archives.

Liberty University was silent until last week, when Elmer Towns, dean of the school of religion, told Christianity Today the university’s board was satisfied that Caner has done nothing “theologically inappropriate.” Said Towns, “It’s not an ethical issue, it’s not a moral issue. We give faculty a certain amount of theological leverage. The arguments of the bloggers would not stand up in court.” The Christianity Today headline framed the story as an attack on Caner: “Bloggers Target Seminary President.”

In response to the Christianity Today story, one of Caner’s critics wrote on his blog:

So Caner’s deception is not “ethical” or “moral.” If I were a lost person, this would be a huge step forward in my belief that Christianity itself is a lie, and Christian leaders are mostly hypocritical charlatans selling their spiritual elixirs, whose “ethical” and “moral” standards are much lower than the average non-Christian.

Some Baptist bloggers say Liberty is sending a message to its students that celebrity is more important than integrity. One of them, Oklahoma pastor Burleson, says he can no longer recommend Liberty to potential students.

‘Get out of our way’

Caner’s critics insist their goal is not his personal destruction. Several of the bloggers campaigning for truth-telling and apologies said they believe Caner is a powerful speaker and talented leader. They would support him keeping his job if only he would apologize. Tom Rich says that in one of Caner’s books, Why Churches Die, the besieged seminary president wrote that public sin requires public repentance. And what is more of a public sin, Rich asks, than standing in the pulpit at First Baptist Jacksonville and lying to thousands of people about having been trained to kill Americans the way the 9/11 hijackers did?

Asked why Caner and Liberty would refuse the path of public repentance in the face of such clear evidence, Burleson says he is “baffled,” and insists he is not Caner’s enemy. “He is my friend and my brother in Christ.” Burleson says he, like many others, is not above the temptation to embellish. He thinks that a public admission of wrongdoing and an apology would bring an end to the story. But the Liberty response — pretending it never happened, circling the wagon, making other people the problem — is “the height of dysfunction,” he says. And the longer such stonewalling persists, the worse it will be — for Caner and for Liberty.

It’s not clear how this will end. Some bloggers have circulated a draft resolution with the notion that they would bring it before the Southern Baptist Convention, but it’s extremely unlikely that convention officials would ever let it get to the floor. After the story broke out of the blogosphere last week into Christianity Today, the Associated Baptist Press did a more in-depth story. The increased attention to Caner’s well-documented deceptions may make it harder for Liberty University to make them go away.

Caner seems to hope his celebrity and his bluster will carry him through. His attitude toward his critics seems to mirror the attitude he expressed in his speech at last fall’s Values Voter Summit. He ended his talk with this message to Christians he said were not being outspoken enough on the issues of the day: “You need to preach, teach, and reach, or just shut up and get out of our way.”

NOTE: This article has been corrected. The quote from Elmer Towns, dean of Liberty University’s school of religion, contained an error in transcription in the original version.

 

Is Sarah Palin Trying to Become a Loon?

Posted in Feature, Loon Pastors, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2010 by loonwatch

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Is former 1/2-governor of Alaska and Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin trying to join the ranks of the Loons? On her Facebook page, Palin wrote:

My, have things changed. I was honored to have Rev. Franklin Graham speak at my Governor’s Prayer Breakfasts. His good work in Alaska’s Native villages and his charitable efforts all over the world stem from his servant’s heart. In my years of knowing him, I’ve never found his tempered and biblically-based comments to be offensive – in fact his words have been encouraging and full of real hope.

It’s truly a sad day when such a fine patriotic man, whose son is serving on his fourth deployment in Afghanistan to protect our freedom of speech and religion, is dis-invited from speaking at the Pentagon’s National Day of Prayer service. His comments in 2001 were aimed at those who are so radical that they would kill innocent people and subjugate women in the name of religion.

Are we really so hyper-politically correct that we can’t abide a Christian minister who expresses his views on matters of faith? What a shame. Yes, things have changed.

Everybody join me now: Awwwwwwwwwww!

Apparently she was referring to the Army’s recent decision to rescind their invitation of Franklin Graham, son of the late Billy Graham, to their National Day of Prayer event. Army spokesman Col. Tom Collins said,

“Army leadership became aware of the issue and immediately recognized it was problematic. ”  He added,  “This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue.”

What I thought was truly hilarious was her saying, “His comments in 2001 were aimed at those who are so radical that they would kill innocent people and subjugate women in the name of religion.” Really? She MUST have missed the memo.

Here are his “tempered” and “biblically-based” comments about Islam:

In 2001, he said that Islam, not the radical version of Islam, but all of Islam “is is a very evil and wicked religion.” In 2001, he said:

We’re not attacking Islam but Islam has attacked us. The God of Islam is not the same God. He’s not the son of God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It’s a different God, and I believe it is a very evil and wicked religion.

In 2006, he didn’t back down:

I know about Islam. I don’t need an education from Islam. If people think Islam is such a wonderful religion, just go to Saudi Arabia and make it your home. Just live there. If you think Islam is such a wonderful religion, I mean, go and live under the Taliban somewhere. I mean, you’re free to do that.

In a Wall Street Journal piece, Graham wrote: “the persecution or elimination of non-Muslims has been a cornerstone of Islamic conquests and rule for centuries. Graham said the Quran “provides ample evidence that Islam encourages violence in order to win converts and to reach the ultimate goal of an Islamic world.”So “tempered”and  ”Biblically-based,” eh?

The Taliban are no more an example of Islam than the Hutaree are an example of Christianity. The terrorists of the Muslim flavor are no more representative of Islam than the pedophile Catholic priests are representative of Catholic Christianity. Please, Sarah, don’t comment about something which you clearly have little idea. Please, Sarah, keep watching Russia from your house and stay out of religion. Clearly, it is way, way, way above your pay grade.