Archive for Jesus

Sacramento Muslims Open Mosque to Easter Service

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2012 by loonwatch

Members of the Spiritual Life Center of Sacramento have their Easter morning services for their Christian church, at the Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims (SALAM) auditorium next to their mosque in Sacramento, Calif., April 08, 2012.  Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/04/08/4399608/easter-sunday-at-salam-mosque.html?mi_rss=Photo%20Galleries#storylink=cpy

Members of the Spiritual Life Center of Sacramento have their Easter morning services for their Christian church, at the Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims (SALAM) auditorium next to their mosque in Sacramento, Calif., April 08, 2012.

Sacramento Muslims open mosque to Easter service

http://bcove.me/7blioua1
SACRAMENTO – A Sacramento congregation was facing an Easter without a home this year until the most unlikely of locations opened their doors and welcomed them inside.

The Spiritual Life Center of Sacramento lost the lease to their church a month prior to their biggest service of the year, but Reverend Michael Moran said a dream offered hope in the face of despair.

“We were desperately looking for a place to hold our Easter services. I had a dream and in the dream I saw a newspaper headline that read, ‘Easter at the Mosque’,” reveals Moran. “But when I awoke, I said that will never happen.”

But in an act of compassion and generosity, the Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims (SALAM) turned Moran’s dream into reality.

Ifran Itaq of SALAM said the decision to allow Moran’s congregation to celebrate their faith at the mosque was simple.

“For us, mosques, churches, synagogues are places where God’s name is mentioned and they are holy places, and this is the sharing of those faiths in one of those institutions.”

Beyond the surface-level expression of hospitality and good will, Moran believes the interfaith congregation on Easter Sunday holds much greater significance.

“Our mission from the very beginning was to bring the different faith traditions together in cooperative efforts,” Moran explains. “I love what the Dalai Lama said, he said, “Until there’s peace among the world’s religions, there will never be peace on earth. I think this is one of those steps towards peace.”

News10/KXTV

—————————————————————————————————–

At great personal risk, John Oliver witnesses Muslims praying in a church’s all-purpose room.
http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-may-5-2011/big-mohammed-s-house

The Drone and the Cross

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2012 by loonwatch

Drones for Jesus

“What Would Jesus Do?” (WWJD?) is a phrase popularized in the US during the 1990s, serving as a reminder to Christians to demonstrate the moral example of Jesus Christ.

Though it is difficult to imagine what Jesus might do in the modern world, it seems quite certain unleashing Hellfire missiles on helpless civilians would not be an option, which begs a question: Why are millions of contemporary Christians fervent cheerleaders for endless war in faraway lands?

This Holy Week, Brian Terrell considers Christ’s moral imperative in the context of current events.

The Drone and the Cross

by Brian Terrell, Counterpunch

A Good Friday Meditation

Over Holy Week, the days before celebrating the resurrection of Jesus on Easter, Christians are called to meditate on Jesus’ last days. On Good Friday, in churches and often in city streets, it is customary to retrace the “Way of the Cross,” symbolically following Jesus from his trial before the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate to his torture, crucifixion, death and burial. For American Christians in Holy Week, 2012, news headlines of wars in far-away places must not be seen as distractions from our meditations and liturgical observances but rather as a necessary means to realize the implications of Christ’s passion for us here and now.

The Roman Empire employed crucifixion as its preferred method of executing suspects deemed threatening to its imperial power and to the “Pax Romana” it imposed on the known world. The history of empires is banal and predicable even in its cruelty and the United States is more clearly than ever the successor of this imperial tradition. Empire will always be on the technological cutting edge, from bronze swords to nuclear missiles, with each advance extending the reach and the catastrophic potential of successive imperial powers, but the history of empires is really one single tragic story told over and over again with incidental variations.

Today those deemed threats to the U.S. Empire and its “Pax Americana” are increasingly targeted by Predator and Reaper drones armed with missiles and bombs. Just as Rome considered Jesus a “high value target” for execution, it is unlikely that today’s world empire would view Jesus’ life and teaching with any less suspicion. Were Jesus to preach today as he preached in Jerusalem two millennia ago, instead of a cross of wood the instrument of his passion might be a hellfire missile fired from a predator drone.

While the revolution Jesus preached was nonviolent, this did not matter to Rome and such distinctions are equally lost on the U.S. Empire, whose military, Homeland Security and FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force are at least as zealous in persecuting unarmed advocates for economic and political justice as they are in pursuing terrorists. Jesus called for a jubilee abolition of debt, for redistribution of wealth and for freedom to those in prison. His nonviolent stance did not keep him from meeting in dialogue with the zealots who advocated violent revolution. This would be all the evidence the U.S. Empire needs to detain an “enemy combatant” indefinitely at Guantanamo or indeed, to put him on a CIA hit list.

Mouthpieces for the present empire defend assassination by drone citing the fact that arresting some suspected threats would be difficult to impossible- they travel the desolate reaches of the empire, passing in and out of porous borders. When they do enter populated areas, they are surrounded by crowds of supporters, which translates in U.S. parlance as despicably using civilians as human shields.

The military and law enforcement authorities of Rome and its colonial client states were likewise frustrated in their attempts to track and arrest Jesus. When things got hot in Judea, Jesus and his disciples were known to slip out of the Roman Province of Judea into Herod’s Tetrarchy of Galilee and from there, hop a boat to the jurisdiction of the Decapolis. The mightiest military force on the planet in the year 33 of the current era could not arrest Jesus in Jerusalem “for fear of the crowds,” the Gospels tell us.

In order to bring him to “justice,” Rome needed to recruit and bribe one of Jesus’ inner circle for inside information and then wait to find him alone in a dark garden. That empire required a sham trial before their governor could sentence Jesus to die. Today’s mightiest empire uses unmanned drones to find and kill threats to its power with no trial and from long distances. Victims are named by the military or the CIA on evidence that is kept secret from any court. Rather than being hounded by spies and dragged to a cross by mercenary boots on the ground, threats to the U.S. Empire are now hunted by drones high in the sky, scanning the cities and the wilderness, sending high-resolution video feed to their “pilots” thousands of miles away in Nevada, California or New York and it is from that safe distance that the trigger is pulled to launch the fatal missile.

While drones are touted as weapons of precision, their Hellfire missiles and 500 pound bombs are not surgical instruments. Weddings and funerals, when attended by “high value targets” are fair game and hundreds of celebrants and mourners have been killed by drone strikes on these events in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Villages and urban neighborhoods where such “targets” are suspected to be residing or visiting are devastated along with their inhabitants. War is hell, it is admitted in moments of candor and an empire cannot allow itself to be deterred by fear of “collateral damage” from pursuing its objectives.

With the flexibility that drones offer the present empire, Rome would not have needed to wait for Jesus to surface in Jerusalem at Passover, but could have killed him at its leisure along, incidentally, with anyone in his vicinity. If they had drones, the Romans might have taken out Jesus at Cana along with the other wedding guests. A hellfire missile might have found him welcoming the children or at the funeral of his friend, Lazarus. The hit might have come as a 500 pound bomb dropped on the upper room, interrupting the last supper.

U.S. drones, it is reported, hover over the aftermath of an attack and target rescue workers and those who attempt to give the dead dignified burial. Had Rome the technical capability and lack of compunction of the U.S., Joseph of Arimathaea might have paid with his life for his work of mercy, laying the tortured corpse of Jesus in his own tomb. Mary and the women who later brought ointments to bathe and anoint Jesus’ body might never had made it to the tomb; or they might have been burned beyond recognition themselves before they could deliver the good news that the tomb was empty.

Of course this meditation is the result of wild and perhaps irresponsible speculation. I wonder, though, if it is so far off as it seems even to me. More than this I wonder what it means for me as a privileged citizen of an empire, to venerate the holy cross and to worship the tortured messiah who died on it while my government unleashes hellish droves of machines into the sky to spy and to torture and kill in my name.

Brian Terrell lives in Maloy, Iowa and is a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. He spent Good Fridays of 2009 and 2011 in jails in Nevada and New York after protesting at U.S. Air Force drone operation centers.

Jesus, Carpet Bomb My Heart: An Undercover Muslim in Detroit

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2011 by loonwatch

An evocative inside look into the Evangelical crusade for Muslim hearts.

Jesus, Carpet Bomb My Heart: An Undercover Muslim in Detroit

by Haroon Moghul (Religion Dispatches)

I’m the one they’re after. I’m “the enemy,” the believer in the “false idol,” “the darkness” Jesus needs to cast out of America, the reason they’re spending all night in Detroit’s Ford Field, sending prayers over Michigan mosques “like sending special forces into Afghanistan.” And there are thousands of them, come because Pastor Lou Engle asked them to.

Founder of TheCall, Engle warns that an Islamic movement is rising in Dearborn, Michigan—“Ground Zero” for America’s spiritual future (and site of a new TLC reality show, All-American Muslim). When I heard the goals for TheCall Detroit—healing America in a time of crisis, accomplishing racial reconciliation, and (here’s where I come in) bringing Jesus to Muslim hearts—I figured a Muslim in the crowd could be a nice twist.

So I was there with them for hours into the late night and hearing their ex-Muslim speaker ridiculously early in the morning, the undercover Muslim surrounded by tens of thousands beside me, praying for Jesus to invade my heart. My plan was to report from the inside, to talk to the attendees as one among devoted thousands (though probably not revealing my religious background, unless I had to and knew where the exits were).

I’d observe firsthand what goes on at a gathering like this. I’d try to understand how such Christians understand Islam. Lou Engle’s world is alien from my New England roots and New York life. I’d attended churches before, but nothing like this. We need to know where this fear and hate come from, what its intentions are, and who it appeals to.

But as the day approached, Engle’s connections to a network of right-wing activists and political Christians came into focus. From the involvement of US Army Lt. Gen. William Boykin (who has helpfully compared Islam to a diabolical religion), to a Michigan Call coordinator named Rick Warzywak (who believes that Christians should “go back and occupy or take back the land” of American Muslims), to a particularly weird twist on the theme of racial reconciliation (involving sending Detroit’s African-American Muslims, or ex-Muslims, to the Middle East), it was clear that this might be an uncomfortable assignment.

So I shaved my beard down to a goatee. Just in case.

But that anxiety only confirmed the importance of what I was doing. I needed to see this for myself. Americans, and American Muslims especially, need to know how certain interpretations of professedly apolitical Christianity become allied to a far-right agenda of foreign wars and domestic austerity, glorifying the rich while demonizing the poor.

Political Christianity’s treatment of Islam is one of the few points, and perhaps the only point, at which right-wing, political Christianity’s radical agenda is revealed, for its attitude to Islam speaks both to the narrowness of its domestic vision (America for certain Americans) and the aggressiveness of its foreign vision (going abroad to find monstrous Muslims to convert). Don’t let the language of love fool you.

A Pep Rally for Jesus

I was sure I’d be one of very few non-white folks in attendance, yet when the gates opened on Friday afternoon, I was struck by the diversity—and the juvenile vibe. I took my seat close to the stage, surrounded by people of every color, finding it hard to focus because of the pounding Christian rock music shaking the stadium. Folks were on their feet, dancing and swaying. Rather than stick out, I blended in perfectly.

People have tried to compare Islamophobia to old-school racism. And I’ve repeatedly disagreed. We have a tendency to accuse arguments rooted in religion and tradition of reaching back to the past; the truth, however, is much more complicated. As much as religion shapes the world, it is shaped by the world. Even when we invoke the past, we must accommodate the language and conclusions of today. Just fifty years ago, Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann would not have been viable candidates. Hell, they wouldn’t have been candidates at all. And so too with TheCall.

The rally formally opened with a Native American band (actually, since they were Canadian, a First Nations band). Everybody seemed into it, on their feet and swaying to the beat. Judging by those first hours, this was worship at the altar of a multicultural Jesus, advertising its many ethnicities, stressing the need for racial reconciliation and forgiveness, encouraging populations pushed apart by suspicion to come together in Jesus’ name. I found it encouraging and I found it worrying.

The diversity was nice. Different languages were spoken on the stage, many different ethnicities were represented. But that diversity could be used to excuse a more subversive intolerance, all the harder to detect for the polyglot multiplicity. It’s not so different from how, since the 1960s, consumer culture has appropriated the language of diversity, and even its attitude, without dealing with its underlying and democratic point. And so we have elite institutions that are ever more racially diverse, who increasingly deploy people of different colors and backgrounds in their advertising and hierarchies, even while social mobility goes into steep decline and the middle class is eviscerated.

I’m sure Engle believes in a Christian movement that transcends race, to reach around the world. Just as I’m sure he’d be greatly pleased by my conversion to his Christianity. But this misses the deeper point, the truly political and partisan nature of TheCall; I saw this as far more than a spiritual exercise in part, I think, because I was forced to process what was happening around me as an outsider. Because, after all, religions are not interchangeable, like different color cars of the same make and model.

Raised in Sunni Muslim tradition, I always experienced worship as the effort to establish an immediate, intimate, and contemplative connection with God; in Sunni mysticism, observing the law is a necessary condition of spirituality. I say this not to establish distance, or to enforce division, but to draw our attention to how religion can be either a source of strength or a source of harm. To make a long point short, Islam is a religion of moral law; when the institutions that produce its legal scholars (who are, ideally, also spiritual authorities) are subverted, undercut, or simply insufficiently rigorous, the resulting interpretations of law become irrelevant—or dangerous.

Keeping that in mind, I found TheCall was immediately shocking.

A friend called a few hours in, concerned that I might be kidnapped (I’m sure he was joking—I hope), and asked what I made of the whole thing. And the first thing that came to mind was: “It’s like a pep rally for Jesus.”

So that Jesus Might Invade Their Dreams

Even when there were speakers, they were bookended by passionate music, deeply emotional calls to prayer, folks spontaneously joining hands and forming prayer circles, turning not to established rituals but whatever the moment led them to. A man behind me started speaking in tongues, and within a few hours, people were fainting and falling to the ground. I had never experienced anything like it.

But with all the transport out of and away from yourself, there was little time to digest what the speakers were saying, little time to think through the implications of their exhortations. In fairness, that didn’t seem to be a problem right away. As I said, the first few hours seemed to be a public relations dream come true; I heard little overtly anti-Muslim sentiment (and no mention of homosexuality).

A look at the program confirmed why. The section titled “Dearborn Awakening” was dumped in dead time, 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. Since Dearborn is home to many Arabs and Muslims, as well as one of the largest mosques in America (a Twelver Shi’a mosque, incidentally), I knew this must be the part of TheCall that would confront Islam. Likely the organizers wanted to shift the more controversial stuff to when nobody would be paying attention; according to Rachel Maddow, this might also have been in the hope that, with Michigan Muslims asleep, Jesus might invade their dreams.

Engle underestimated this Muslim’s desire to see through the subterfuge.

I left Ford Field after five hours, frankly exhausted by the emotional commitment requested by TheCall. A friend took me to an Arab restaurant, where all the waitresses wore hijab. That, and seeing Arabic signs and advertisements everywhere, only fifteen minutes from Ford Field, was pleasingly jarring (and strategically reassuring: In case things turned ugly, I knew where to run, and had a reasonable sense of how fast).

I explained to one of the friendly, all-American, veiled waitresses what I was doing in Dearborn. She seemed skeptical. So I shared TheCall’s promotional literature, and she was stunned. This poor girl hadn’t realized she was part of any “Islamic movement in America” (in America, but not “American”). That night, I spoke to other Muslims about TheCall. They were either deeply concerned or just shrugged it off. As of Friday night, I would’ve been with the second group.

At midnight, I was back in my hotel, stuffed full of shish tawouk, Arab pastries, and chai. I took a two-hour nap, and then went back for more.

Like the Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood used to have a popular slogan: “Islam is the solution” (Islam huwa al-hall). “Jesus is the answer” is the same kind of sloganeering. I’m not just saying that because I know it would drive Engle nuts. It is an overly and therefore problematically easy answer to some very knotty problems. And hearing Engle insist on this point brought me back to the very format of TheCall, which rushes through speakers, condenses their points, and squishes them between loud music and unreflectively emotional appeals. There’s little time to ponder what it means for America if only Jesus can solve our problems.

In an introduction found in the event program, Engle wrote:

Revolution is in the air. But the revolution that is needed is not a revolution of snarling protesters or angry mobs; it’s a Jesus revolution, a revolution of forgiveness, racial reconciliation, compassion.

It’s one thing if he genuinely disavowed politics, but time and time again his supposedly apolitical efforts have an undeniable political goal. In fact TheCall is deeply and suspiciously political, and—at least here he is honest—revolutionary. It seeks to heal America by making a different America in its place, one whose moral conversation displaces its political discourse, one whose reference point is Jesus. Rick Perry’s prayer rally The Response was modeled on Engle’s interpretation of the solemn assembly described in Joel 2, which in turn shaped TheCall. Engle himself has traveled to Sacramento, Washington, and Kampala to praise efforts to restrict the rights of LGBT people and has led elected Republicans in a prayer session that predicted God would punish America for passing health care reform.

But most relevant here was the vacuity of the content: The solution to America’s great crisis was prayer, from start to end, and apparently little else. Any religiosity that encourages worship without broader social engagement—non-Christians were barely acknowledged over the course of an event designed to heal America’s profound crisis—while allying with those who seek to do away with much of our government is anything but apolitical. It just doesn’t have the courage to admit it.

Engle argues that America is in crisis. So do a lot of folks. But then he argues that the only way out is through Jesus. Undoubtedly every political and social crisis has a moral dimension, though to admit that means little. What matters more is to think this logic through: How will we solve political and social crises if we read them through religious lenses? While a universalized, transnational Christianity has its appeal, it doesn’t leave much room for other Americans—or America as a political project. The more I listened to Engle diagnosing America’s problems, the more I thought of old-school Islamists.

Moozlums Allergic To Jesus

Of course, I had come to hear what TheCall would say about Muslims. Engle’s disavowal of any political agenda is, on this point, either evidence of duplicity or naiveté. We are at war in numerous Muslim-majority countries, facing an America in fiscal crisis, fighting a magnificently costly war on terrorism with no defined end, and watching a movement to ban Shari’ah law to save the Constitution while our civil liberties are increasingly challenged. There is no way that any conversation about Islam in America cannot have political implications. Long story short, I’m glad I was wide awake and raptly attentive at 3 a.m.

“Dearborn Awakening” began with a preacher who could not pronounce “Muslim.” He seemed to think it was “Mooz-lum.” I wanted to raise my hand to correct him, but everyone else had his or her hands raised (for different reasons). In the singing, one of the chorus lines was “Gather the remnants/among the Muslims”—a reference to the remnant of Christians remaining during the Tribulation who will evangelize the non-Christians so they will be saved before Jesus’ return. Another speaker clued us in on Jesus’ attitude to the Muslims: “You love them, and there’s nothing they can do about that.” Leave it to TheCall to make love sound alarming, even terrifying.

But the best was yet to come, and his name was Kamal.

Kamal was the reason we were here (and awake). I didn’t know who Kamal was, and would only later learn his identity, although while he was speaking, I suspected he was a fraud. (I’m not the only one who finds Kamal Saleem dubious). Kamal introduced himself as an ex-terrorist, which usually makes me wonder, considering how others have made lucrative careers profiting from ignorance, paranoia, and naïveté. (Imagine how much money I could make as a “former Muslim” on the incestuous right-wing circuit. I’m imagining it right now, and am mildly depressed.)

I’m not saying Kamal Saleem is definitely a fraud; it may simply be that he was raised by one of the dumbest Muslim families in the world.

Kamal claimed that he was raised in “jihad” in Lebanon, and kindly shared the implications with an audience that knew no better. For example, he said, when a Muslim’s blood is first shed in the path of God, he becomes a Messiah. (Unfortunately for Kamal, there is only one Messiah in Islam, and it’s Jesus—who, to take the previous speaker’s logic to its conclusion, loves us even if Lou Engle doesn’t want him to.) Kamal then told us that Islam teaches that there is only one way to go to heaven, and that is war. In fact, he shared many “facts,” the full effect of which was to convince the audience that Islam is purely demonic. Indeed, numerous references were made to “the darkness,” “the enemy,” and “false idols,” oblique enough to avoid outright outrage, but obvious enough to anyone more than half awake.

Stressing his Muslim credentials, Kamal said that one of his uncles was “the holiest of holies,” the Muslim Pope. There is no Muslim Pope, though to be fair, Kamal’s uncle might just have been lying to the poor boy. Kamal then told us that he was recruited by the Muslim Brotherhood and the PLO (a secular organization) and went on his first mission into Israel—we’re assuming that this was a military operation—at the age of seven. At the age of eight, he went on his second mission. Years later, when he first met Christians in America, Kamal was repulsed. His initial reaction was: “I’m allergic to Jesus.” (The audience loved this part.) Unfortunately for the supposed former Muslim, nobody taught Kamal that a Muslim who does not honor Jesus is by the consensus of every school in Islam not a Muslim.

Kamal then turned his sharp mind to theology, and distinguished the Muslim concept of God from the Christian, arguing that what Muslims believe in is a false idol. Christians, on the other hand, believe in the true God of love. Nobody told Kamal that one of Islam’s ninety-nine names of God is al-Wadud, the Loving, and that many other names express compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. Pretty much everything Kamal praised about the “Christian” God, short of the Trinity, could easily square with Islam’s understanding of the Divine: God is loving, forgiving, merciful, and personally concerned with us. Kamal closed with his conversion story, and a reminder that since converting, Saudi Arabia, the PLO, and the Muslim Brotherhood had all put a price on his head.

All the friendly diversity from Friday night, the warm and smiley openness, had vanished. Love and freedom were convenient catchphrases justifying the identification of nearly one-quarter of humanity with the demonic. It’s one thing to say that you’d like Muslims to convert to Christianity. Fair enough. Many Muslims want Christians to convert to Islam. It’s another thing to so brazenly misrepresent Islam. Conflicts in the past could be safely broached, but when it came to today’s war on terror, the disingenuousness and ill-spiritedness of choosing a former Muslim with the worst possible perspective on Islam revealed Engle’s agenda and its overlap with fearmongering Islamophobes.

After Kamal, there was mostly prayer and music, and prayerful music, until 6 a.m., at which time the first prayer of the day came in (I prayed at the hotel, just to be safe). Afterwards I took a long nap and came back to TheCall by late morning. But by then much had changed. Ford Field, which at best was half full, was empty and dulled. And it was hard to talk to people. Folks were friendly, but rarely chatty—though to do them justice, most of them were fasting, and probably hadn’t slept the night. The conversations I had with participants and performers were generally rushed. I didn’t want to be too obvious by raising the topic of Islam, and so it never came up.

Meanness of Spirit

Even back at the hotel, I didn’t get much traction. Most folks focused on the intensity of the experience, although my coming all the way from New York intrigued some. While taking a shower on Sunday morning, I heard a man in the room next door passionately scream Jesus’ name, but on reflection, that might have been something else entirely. There wasn’t much else to do, and I wanted the other side of the story. Saturday afternoon, I headed for Dearborn’s giant mosque, the Islamic Center of America, where I spent an hour asking the folks I met what they thought about TheCall. One activist noted that he hadn’t made any initiative to reach out to Engle; as an African American, he noted, he wouldn’t reach out to David Duke. For him, Engle was another piece of the Islamophobia puzzle.

After praying at sundown—the first time, incidentally, I’ve prayed in a Twelver Shi’a mosque (this trip was full of new religious experiences)—I visited a mosque in Rochester Hills, this one mostly South Asian and Sunni, where I was also able to get some local Muslims’ reactions to TheCall. There was of course concern, and some surprise. Many had heard, but many had not. More of the Muslims were more interested in hearing what it was like to be there. I’d live-tweeted TheCall and issued far too many Facebook updates, so some looked for clarification or explanation of certain points. I went back to the hotel by midnight and fell asleep fast, and didn’t begin to reflect on the whole experience until Sunday morning.

I was naturally disheartened, considering that the participants probably thought Kamal Saleem represented Islam. But on the drive to the airport that disappointment lifted. America is in crisis, as Engle warned, but its solution can be intimated in the popular energy that has animated engagement from Wisconsin to Wall Street to Tahrir—on the way to the airport, I drove past Occupy Detroit.

Our imaginations are once more open, as we consider the incompatibilities of unchecked capital and genuine democracy. In this time of reconstructing the way our world works, a polarizing and exclusive religious vision is not particularly relevant. America is also inescapably and increasingly diverse, and its domestic and foreign policy requires finding a method of engagement with difference that is reasonable and respectful.

But there is a more inescapable truth about Engle’s “Dearborn Awakening.” He chose a speaker who lied, obfuscated, and confused. Should any of the participants want to learn more about Islam, if even to bring Jesus to Muslims, they have already heard the worst of the worst. And they’ll quickly find out that Islam is very different from what they were told it is. All the passionate music, jubilation, and spiritual energy cannot hide the meanness of spirit that would perpetrate this kind of fraud.

As much as TheCall prayed for “Jesus to cover Dearborn in light, and cast out the darkness,” Kamal Saleem was the one speaking in the dead of night. Engle should pay more attention to his own moralizing etiology of America’s crisis. Democracy, like a free-market economy, operates on trust, and when that trust is lost, it is very hard to recover. The relationship of the faithful with their leaders is much the same. Those many thousands who were clearly lied to on Saturday morning will find out. Perhaps not immediately. But eventually. And then they’ll begin to wonder what else was a lie.

Be careful, Lou Engle.

Christians Pray for Jesus to Invade Muslims Dreams Before Michigan Becomes an Islamic State

Posted in Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2011 by loonwatch

Lou Engle wants to convert Muslims by invading their dreams, I guess that beats literally invading their countries. (hat tip: M)

Detroit prayer rally aims to convert Muslims

An evangelical group known a The Call, headed by Lou Engle, is planning a prayer rally at Ford Field in Detroit in Nov. 11 with the goal of converting Muslims before they turn Michigan into an Islamic state.

In a Youtube video, Engle and another pastor, Rick Joyner, say that the event will use prayer to send dreams of Jesus to the Muslims and convert them:

Joyner: One of the things Detroit has become known for in our nation is the largest Muslim community in our nation, and Dearborn, it’s growing. Many havesaid there actually is an attempt to make Michigan our first Muslim state…. You cannot understand our modern world today without understanding Islam, and the Lord called them hypocrites who did not know the Signs of the Times. We need to know and understand this issue, we have to. And Islam is in our face, everywhere we return. And here, in America, this is the one place where it is most in our face, right now…

Engle: At 11-11-11 the Lord just clearly showed to us, you got to pray all night long because it’s when the Muslims sleep and all over the world right now Muslims in the night are having dreams of Jesus, we believe that God wants to invade with His love Dearborn with dreams of Jesus. We’re gathering together to say God, pour out your grace and revelations of Jesus all over Dearborn and the Muslim communities of North and South America.

Joyner and Engle were also two of the primary movers behind Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s prayer rally in Houston in early August.

Daily Show with Jon Stewart: In the Name of the Fodder

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2011 by loonwatch

Jon Stewart

Daily Show with Jon Stewart: In the Name of the Fodder

The Fox rapid-response team makes a plea to distinguish violence in the name of a religion from the practitioners and tenets of that religion as long as it’s Christianity.

The Young Conservative’s Hip Hop Guide to Muslims (Satire)

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2011 by loonwatch

Young Con is doing his thang. Check out the video and the facts below.

The Young Conservative’s Hip Hop Guide to Muslims (Satire)

The Young Conservative’s Hip Hop Guide to Muslims is social commentary through satire on the gross, yet common misconceptions perpetuated about Muslim people. Cutaways to competing facts are provided to help fight ignorance and intolerance.

Sources:

Statistic in Open – 3 of 4 people Republicans believe “Islam teaches hate”

Step 1 – Ethnicity/Demographics of Muslims

  • 60% Asian
  • 20% Arab
  • 17% Subsaharan-African

Step 2 – FBI Terrorism Report – Chronological Summary of Terrorist Incidents in the United States 1980-2005

Step 3 – “Islam is Violence”

  • George W. Bush: “Islam is Peace
  • Chapter 5, verse 32 – “We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person — unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land — it would be as if he slew the whole people; and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.”

Step 6 – “They hate women” – 4 of 5 most populous Muslim-majority nations have elected female heads-of-state

  • Indonesia – Megawati Sukarnoputri
  • Pakistan – Benazir Bhutto
  • Bangladesh – Khaleda Zia & Sheikh Hasina
  • Turkey – Tansu Ciller

Step 7 – FDR Inaugural Speech – March 4, 1933

  • “The only thing we have to fear is Muslims“
  • “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”

Step 8 – Jesus in the Quran, “The Messiah”

Jesus Loves His Enemies…and Then Kills Them All

Posted in Feature, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2011 by loonwatch

This article is part 5 of LoonWatch’s Understanding Jihad Series. Please read my “disclaimer”, which explains my intentions behind writing this article: The Understanding Jihad Series: Is Islam More Likely Than Other Religions to Encourage Violence?

Anti-Muslim demagoguery relies on the demonization of the Prophet Muhammad, who is characterized as being especially violent and warlike.  This idea has certainly gained currency in the “Judeo-Christian West”.  When it is pointed out that the Biblical prophets–including MosesJoshua,SamsonSaulDavid, among many others–were far more violent and warlike (and even engaged inreligiously sanctioned genocide), anti-Muslim pro-Christian ideologues will respond by disregarding or downplaying the Old Testament and will instead focus on the personality of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.

Didn’t Jesus preach nonviolence and “loving one’s enemies”?  The anti-Muslim ideologues use this idea to assault the religion of Islam with.  For example, the Catholic apologist Robert Spencer compares Islam to Christianity by juxtaposing carefully selected quotes from Jesus to Islamic texts.  In his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), Spencer includes a “Muhammad vs Jesus” section.  He cites the following sayings of Jesus in the Bible:

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”

“If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also”

“Blessed are the peacemakers”

“Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy”

“But love your enemies, and do good”

These “peaceful” verses of the Bible are compared to select violent-sounding Quranic verses.  The violent verses of the Bible “don’t count” and are craftily excluded from the comparison (“that’s just the Old Testament!”).  To tighten the noose, peaceful verses of the Quran are also excluded from the heavily biased analysis: these “don’t count” since they are supposedly from when Muhammad was still in Mecca.

To understand the last point, one needs to have a basic understanding of the Prophet Muhammad’s biography: he first declared his prophethood in the city of Mecca.  Only a very small segment of society accepted him (mostly the weak and poor), whereas the masses–especially the powerful leaders of the city–not only rejected him but actively persecuted him.  The chapters of the Quran that were revealed during this period are known as the Meccan chapters.  Eventually, Muhammad fled to the city of Medina, whose people accepted him as their ruler.  He went from persecuted prophet to ruler and commander-in-chief of a fledgling city-state.

The anti-Muslim ideologues claim that the peaceful and tolerant verses of the Quran come from when Muhammad was weak and persecuted in Mecca.  These verses are “canceled”, they argue, by the violent-sounding verses in the Medinan chapters.  Robert Spencer writes in  his book:

Islamic theology divides the Qur’an into “Meccan” and “Medinan” suras [chapters]. The Meccan ones come from the first segment of Muhammad’s career as a prophet, when he simply called the Meccans to Islam.  Later, after he fled to Medina, his positions hardened.  The Medinan suras [are]…filled with matters of law and ritual–and exhortations to jihad warfare against unbelievers.  The relatively tolerant verses quoted above and others like them generally date from the Meccan period, while those with a more violent and intolerant edge are mostly from Medina. [1]

The Islamophobes portray Muhammad as opportunistic: when he was weak and under the rule of the pagans, he called for peace.  Without being in a position of authority, Muhammad was hardly in a position to do otherwise.  As soon as he came to power, however, he waged “jihad warfare” (what a strange phrase!) against them. This is why, they argue, the peaceful verses of the Quran simply “don’t count”.

The merits of Spencer’s claims about the Prophet Muhammad will be critiqued in a future article of this Series.  For now, however, we will demonstrate that, using such logic, it is equally possible to invalidate the “peaceful” sayings of Jesus Christ.  While he was a persecuted prophet, Jesus advocated nonviolence and peaceful resistance.  He was hardly in a position to do otherwise, right?  Once in power, however, this changes dramatically and violent warfare becomes the new modus operandi.

The Messiah

Just as Muhammad’s biography can be divided into a Meccan and Medinan period, so too can Jesus’s lifestory be divided into a First and Second Coming.  (Likewise can Moses’ lifestory be divided into pre- and post-Exodus: prior to Exodus, Moses was largely peaceful, but after Exodus, Moses became the leader of the emerging Jewish state–and subsequently engaged in holy wars and even genocide against other nations.)  In the First Coming of Christ, only a small segment of society (mostly from the weak and poor) accepted Jesus, whereas the leaders and authorities persecuted him.  During this time period, Jesus advised his followers to engage in nonviolent resistance only, perhaps even pacifism.  Jesus advised his followers to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  According to the Bible, this didn’t stop his Jewish and Roman persecutors from crucifying him.

Yet, the Second Coming of Christ is a central theological belief of Christianity.  When Jesus returns to earth, the gloves will be off: no longer will he practice nonviolence or pacifism.  Enemies will be mercilessly killed, not loved.  In this manner, Jesus will fulfill the messianic prophecies found in the Bible–both in the Old and New Testaments.  To Christians, Jesus is the Messiah (the Greek word “Christ” has the same meaning as the Hebrew word “Messiah”)–the same Messiah that the Jews had been in anticipation of.

It is important to understand how the concept of Messiah developed.  According to the Bible, Moses and his followers fled persecution in Egypt to find refuge in the land of Canaan.  They believed that God had bequeathed this land to them, which would come to be known as Israel. Unfortunately, there were already peoples who lived in Canaan, a problem that Moses and his followers rectified via military might.  The native Canaanites were subsequently occupied, exterminated, or run off their ancestral lands.  When the natives fought back, the Israelites attributed this to their innate and infernal hatred of the Jewish people.

After ruling the “promised land” for a time, the Israelites were themselves conquered by outsiders.  The Babylonian Empire captured the Kingdom of Judah and expelled the Jews.  Though the Israelites felt no remorse over occupying, slaughtering, and running off the native inhabitants of Canaan, they were mortified when they received similar (albeit milder) treatment.  In exile, the Jews prayed for vengeance, as recorded in a divine prayer in the Bible:

Psalm 137:8 O Babylon, you will be destroyed. Happy is the one who pays you back for what you have done to us.

137:9 Blessed is the one who grabs your babies and smashes them against a rock.

(We can hardly imagine the glee that an Islamophobe would feel had such a violent passage, one that blesses those who smash infidel babies against rocks, been found in the Quran instead of the Bible.)

It was during the time of exile that the Jewish concept of Messiah was first born.  Dutch historianJona Lendering writes:

The word Messiah renders the Aramaic word mešîhâ’, which in turn renders the Hebrew mâšîah. In Antiquity, these words were usually translated into Greek asChristos and into Latin as Christus, hence the English word Christ. All these words mean simply ‘anointed one’, anointment being a way to show that a Jewish leader had received God’s personal help.

It was believed that the Messiah (the Anointed One) would receive God’s personal help against the enemies of Israel; the Messiah would defeat the Babylonians and reestablish the Jewish state of Israel.  Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, fulfilled this role by conquering Babylon and releasing the Jews from exile.  Israel Smith Clare writes:

After Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, had conquered Babylon, he issued an edict permitting the Jews to return to their own country and to rebuild the city and Temple of Jerusalem. [2]

Prof. Martin Bernal of Cornell University writes:

The first Messiah in the Bible was Cyrus, the king of Persia who released the Jews–at least those who wanted to leave–from Exile in Babylon. [3]

As for this passage in the Bible:

Psalm 137:8 O Babylon, you will be destroyed. Happy is the one who pays you back for what you have done to us.

137:9 Blessed is the one who grabs your babies and smashes them against a rock.

Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible comments on this verse:

This was Cyrus, who was chosen of God to do this work, and is therefore called happy, as being God’s agent in its destruction.

The Jews thereby returned to the promised land and rebuilt their nation.  According to Jewish tradition, however, this did not last long: the Roman Empire conquered the land, destroyed the Temple, and exiled the Jews once again.  As a result, as Lendering puts it, “the old prophecies [about Messiah] became relevant again.”  Although in Jewish tradition there is a messiah for each generation, there is also the Messiah, which is what is commonly thought of when we hear the word.  The Messiah would fulfill the task of destroying all of Israel’s enemies.

JewFaq.org says of the Messiah, which they spell as mashiach (emphasis is ours):

The mashiach will be a great political leader descended from King David (Jeremiah 23:5). The mashiach is often referred to as “mashiach ben David” (mashiach, son of David). He will be well-versed in Jewish law, and observant of its commandments (Isaiah 11:2-5). He will be a charismatic leader, inspiring others to follow his example. He will be a great military leader, who will win battles for Israel. He will be a great judge, who makes righteous decisions (Jeremiah 33:15).

KosherJudaism.org states:

The Messiah will defeat and conquer the enemies surrounding Israel.

The Second Coming of Christ

Around 4 B.C., a prophet by the name of Jesus was born.  He claimed to be the Messiah, and some Jews followed him.  The followers of Christ eventually split into numerous sects, and eventually one triumphed over all others.  These became what are today known as Christians.  As for the majority of Jews, they rejected Jesus.  Why? The Jews rejected (and continue to reject) Jesus because he did not fulfill the prophecies pertaining to the Messiah.  How could Jesus be the Messiah when he not only did not defeat or conquer Israel’s enemies, but he never even led an army into a single war?  On the contrary, didn’t Jesus preach nonviolence and “loving one’s enemies”?

Instead of rejecting these militaristic aspects of the Messiah, Christians attribute them to Jesus during his Second Coming.  No longer will Jesus be a weak and persecuted prophet.  Instead, he will hold governmental authority, and is depicted as powerful and mighty.  This Jesus will certainly not love his enemies or turn the other cheek to them. In fact, the Bible tells us that Jesus will wage violent warfare against his enemies, and he will mercilessly kill them all.

Many Christians talk about how Jesus Christ will bring peace to the world, once and for all.  But they often neglect to mention how this world “peace” is obtained.  It is only after slaughtering his opponents and subduing “the nations” (the entire world?) under the foot of the global Christian empire that the world will have “peace”.  Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible explains:

There shall be no more war; horses and chariots shall be no more used in a hostile way; but there shall be perfect peace, all enemies being destroyed, which agrees with Micah 2:3 Zechariah 9:10.

In other words, there will be peace for the simple reason that there will be nobody left to fight, all opponents having been slaughtered or subdued.   This world “peace” is the same “peace” that any conqueror dreams of: after utterly defeating and conquering all of one’s neighbors and enemies, what is there left but “peace”, insofar as the non-existence of violence?  In the accidentally insightful words of the Evangelist Wayne Blank: “Put another way, humans aren’t going to have anything left to fight about.”  Following conquest, a foreign occupier would obviously want the occupied peoples to be peaceful, as this would eliminate the nuisance of having to fight off freedom-fighters.  The absence of violence would allow the conquering force to effortlessly sustain its occupation.

The events of the Second Coming of Christ are found in the Bible, including the Book of Revelation–which is the last book in the New Testament.  Jesus will “judge and wage war” (Rev. 19:11), his robe will be “dipped in blood” (19:13), and he will be accompanied by “armies” (19:14) with which he will “strike down the nations” (19:15), including “the Gentiles” in general and “the nations that were opposed to him” in specific.  This will result in the “utter destruction of all his enemies”. Furthermore: “in his second coming[,] he will complete their destruction, when he shall put down all opposing rule, principality, and power.”

Once he conquers the infidels, Jesus “will rule them with an iron rod” (19:15).  Wayne Blank writes:

The good news is that The Return Of Jesus Christ is going to happen. The even better news is that this time He’s not coming to be sacrificed by the world, but to rule it, along with those who have been faithful and obedient to Him. The world is going to know true peace, and genuine justice, in a way that it has never known before…

How Will World Peace Happen?

…[This will] not [be] by pleading and debate, but with a rod of iron. Those who choose to love and obey Him will be loved, while those who choose to rebel and hate Him will know His wrath.

Jesus will “will release the fierce wrath of God” (19:15) on them, and “he shall execute the severest judgment on the opposers of his truth”.   Because of this, “every tribe on earth will mourn because of him” (Rev. 1:7), and they will “express the inward terror and horror of their minds, at his appearing; they will fear his resentment”.  Just as the people of Canaan were terrified by the Israelite war machine, so too would the unbelievers “look with trembling upon [Jesus]”.  This is repeated in the Gospels, that “the Son of man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn” (Matthew 24:30).  “All the nations of the world shall wail when he comes to judgment” and the enemies of Jesus “shall mourn at the great calamities coming upon them”.

Far from the meek prophet of the First Coming, Jesus on his return will command a very strong military force that will “destroy[] every ruler, authority, and power”.  Not only is this consistent with the legacy of conquests by the Biblical prophets, it is actually a fulfillment or completion of the task that Moses initiated: holy war and conquest in the name of God.  In First Corinthians (part of the New Testament) it is prophesied that instead of loving his enemies, Christ will subdue and humble them under his feet:

1 Corinthians 15:24 [Jesus] will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power.

15:25 For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet.

Pastor and Biblical scholar Ron Teed explains that Jesus Christ brought “comfort and salvation at His first coming” but will bring “vengeance on God’s enemies” during his Second Coming.  There are thus “two comings of Christ, the first to save, the second to judge”–yet in debates with Muslims it seems that Christians play up the First Coming and completely ignore the Second.  The popular Teed Commentaries explains how “vengeance” is for Christ’s enemies (the “unbelievers”) and “comfort” only for his followers (the believers):

The Messiah will bring both comfort and vengeance. He will take vengeance on God’s enemies and bring comfort to His people. This is a summary of the mission of Christ. He brought comfort and salvation at His first coming during His earthly ministry according to Luke…

However, He said nothing of taking vengeance on God’s enemies at that time, for that part of his mission will not be fulfilled till He returns triumphant…

[There are] two comings of Christ, the first to save, the second to judge.

In His First coming He did the things mentioned in Isaiah 61:1-2; in His Second Coming He will do the things in verses 2-3. When He returns He will bring judgment on unbelievers. This will be the day of God’s “vengeance.”

The ever popular Evangelical site GotQuestions.org sums it up nicely:

Jesus’ second coming will be exceedingly violent. Revelation 19:11-21 describes the ultimate war with Christ, the conquering commander who judges and makes war “with justice” (v. 11). It’s going to be bloody (v. 13) and gory. The birds will eat the flesh of all those who oppose Him (v. 17-18). He has no compassion upon His enemies, whom He will conquer completely and consign to a “fiery lake of burning sulfur” (v. 20).

It is an error to say that God never supports a war. Jesus is not a pacifist.

Will the Real Messiah Please Stand Up?

Whereas the Second Coming of Christ is curiously forgotten in debates with Muslims, it is conveniently remembered during debates with Jews.  One of the primary (if not the primary) functions of the promised messiah in the Judeo-Christian tradition is, after all, vengeance against Israel’s enemies and global dominance.  Indeed, the entire concept of Messiah emerged following the conquest of Jewish lands with the subjugation and exile of its inhabitants.  The Messiah stood as hope for the redemption of Israel as well as revenge against her enemies.

Jewish polemical tracts against Christians reveal to us how militarism is a fundamental characteristic of the Messiah.  The Christian response in turn reveal how Jesus Christ will indeed be militaristic (during his Second Coming).  David Klinghoffer, an Orthodox Jewish author, writes in his book Why the Jews Rejected Jesus:

There were certainly those among [Jesus’] followers who saw him as the promised Messiah.  This was natural.  The first century produced messiahs the way our own time produces movie stars.  There was always a hot new candidate for the role emerging from obscurity, whose glory faded either as he was slaughtered by the Romans or as his followers lost interest when he failed to produce the goods promised by the prophets. [4]

“The goods” refer to the military conquest of Israel’s enemies and world domination.  The fact that Jesus failed to produce these “goods” proves that he is not the promised messiah.  Klinghoffer continues:

Let him do what the “son of man,” the promised Messiah, had been advertised as being destined to do from Daniel back through Ezekiel and Isaiah and the rest of the prophets.  Let him rule as a monarch, his kingship extending over “all peoples, nations, and languages.”  Let him return the exiles and build the Temple and defeat the oppressors and establish universal peace, as the prophets also said…

Let Jesus come up with the real messianic goods–visible to all rather than requiring us to accept someone’s assurance that, for example, he was born in Bethlehem–and then we’ll take him seriously. [5]

This point is reiterated in his book numerous times:

Hearing Jesus preach, a Jew might reasonably have crossed his arms upon his chest and muttered, “Hm, intriguing, but let’s see what happens.”  After all, the scriptures themselves common-sensically defined a false prophet as someone whose prophecies fail to come true.  According to Deuteronomy, this was the chief test of a prophet. [6]

Klinghoffer writes elsewhere:

The Hebrew prophets describe the elements of a messianic scenario that could not easily be overlooked: an ingathering of the Jewish exiles, the reign of a messianic king, a new covenant with the Jews based on a restored commitment to observance of the commandments, a new Temple, the recognition of God by the world’s peoples.  The future Davidic king was expected to radically change the world. [7]

The “radical change” involves the “subjugation” of the nations:

The Messiah would be a military and political leader. Philo, whose views have sometimes been taken as foreshadowing Christian teachings, is clear on this: “For ‘there shall come forth a man’ (Num. 24:7), says the oracle, and leading his host of war he will subdue great and populous nations.”

The Gospel writers thus faced the challenge that Jesus never raised an army, fought the Romans, returned any Jewish exiles, ruled over any population, or did anything else a king messiah would do. [8]

The subjugated nations would then “prostrate” themselves to the Messiah and “serve” him (perpetual servitude?):

The promised royal scion of David, the Messiah, would surely inspire veneration and awe beyond that accorded even to David himself…The nations will “prostrate” themselves before God, says one psalm; but so will they “prostrate” themselves (same Hebrew verb) before the Davidic king, says another psalm…As Daniel puts it…“[The Messiah] was given dominion, honor, kingship, so that all peoples, nations, and languages would serve him.” [9]

Klinghoffer defines the Messiah as he “who conquers and rules the nations and liberates the Jews” and describes him as a mighty warrior”.  He rhetorically asks:

Was there in Jewish tradition any room for a dead Messiah?  Didn’t Jesus’s death tend to cast doubt on his ability to accomplish all the world-transforming things the Messiah was supposed to do? [10]

Again, the “world-transforming things” include violent holy war against the heathen nations and their subjugation under his rule.  Klinghoffer answers his own question:

But was Jesus a ruler over Israel?  On the contrary, the younger Kimchi pointed out, “He did not govern Israel but they governed him.” [11]

Christians reply by arguing that Jesus will fulfill these prophecies, just during his Second Coming.  The Good News, a Christian magazine with a readership of nearly half a million subscribers, responds to the Jewish criticism by arguing that Jesus returns “a second time” as a “conquering King” who will “slay the great armies of those who opposed Him”.  Jesus will be “the promised Messiah whom the prophets claimed would rule all nations ‘with a rod of iron’” and “all nations would come under His rule”.

Klinghoffer, our Orthodox Jewish interlocutor, cries foul:

Christians respond by saying that “the famously unfulfilled prophecies (for instance, that the messianic era will be one of peace) apply to the second and final act in Jesus’s career, when he returns to earth.  This is a convenient and necessary dodge: The Bible itself never speaks of a two-act messianic drama. [11]

The interesting dynamic is thus established: Jews accuse Jesus of not being militaristic enough, and Christian apologists respond by eagerly proving the militaristic nature of Jesus during his Second Coming.

Christians Affirm Militant Old Testament Prophecies

Far from saying “it’s just the Old Testament!”, Christians routinely–and as a matter of accepted fundamental theology–use the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah to validate their belief in Jesus–prophecies that have militaristic overtones.  The Book of Isaiah, for example, has numerous prophecies in it that Christians routinely attribute to Jesus Christ.  For example:

Isaiah 35:4 Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”

Matthew Henry’s commentary of this verse says:

Assurance is given of the approach of Messiah, to take vengeance on the powers of darkness, to recompense with abundant comforts those that mourn in Zion; He will come and save. He will come again at the end of time, to punish those who have troubled his people; and to give those who were troubled such rest as will be a full reward for all their troubles.

This will be “a day of vengeance, a year of retribution, to uphold Zion’s cause” (34:8) against the “nations at enmity with the church” and “those found opposing the church of Christ”, which will result in “the destruction of [the church’s] enemies.” Likewise do Christians claim that the Book of Micah foretells the Second Coming of Christ:

Micah 15:5 I will execute vengeance in anger and fury on the heathen, such as they have not heard.

One Biblical commentary helpfully explains this verse:

Christ will give his Son either the hearts or necks of his enemies, and make them either his friends or his footstool.

[NassirH, a reader of our website, astutely commented: I suppose this is what JihadWatch writer Roland Shirk meant when he said “Islam is a religion of fear and force, and its adherents can only be at your feet or at your throat.”]

Another Biblical commentary notes: “Here no mention is made of Mercy, but only of executing vengeance; and that, with wrath and fury.”  Yet another states that this is “a prophecy of the final overthrow of all the enemies of pure and undefiled religion” and that this is “a threatening of vengeance to the Heathens”.

When we published articles comparing the Judeo-Christian prophets of the Hebrew Bible to the Prophet Muhammad, an anti-Muslim bigot by the name of Percey (formerly known as Cassidy) claimed that the genocides of the Old Testament were “not supported by Christ’s teachings.”  This hardly seems the case, however, when we consider that Jesus will bring to a climax the holy war first initiated by Moses against the enemies of Israel.  Jesus will fulfill, not repudiate, Old Testament holy wars against Israel’s foes.  In fact, the war will be expanded to heathen nations in general, or at least those that reject Jesus.

Conclusion

We could reproduce violent Christian texts ad nauseum…What is clear is that the Christian conception of Jesus can very easily be characterized as violent.  Prof. Melancthon W. Jacobus writes in A Standard Bible Dictionary:

[Jesus] excluded from the Messiah’s character the main elements of the popular ideal, i.e. that of a conquering hero, who would exalt Israel above the heathen, and through such exclusion He seemed to fail to realize the older Scriptural conception.  The failure, however, was only apparent and temporary.  For in the second coming in glory He was to achieve this work. Accordingly, His disciples recognized a twofoldness in His Messiahship: (1) They saw realized in His past life the ideal Servant of Jehovah, the spiritual Messiah, the Christ who teaches and suffers for the people, and (2) they looked forward to the realization of the Davidic and conquering Messiah in His second coming in power and glory to conquer the nations and reign over them. [12]

How then do we reconcile the seemingly peaceful and pacifist sayings of Jesus with the violent and warlike Second Coming of Christ?  There are numerous ways to do this, but perhaps the most convincing is that Jesus’ peaceful and pacifist sayings were directed towards a resident’s personal and local enemies–usually (but not always) referring to fellow co-religionists.  It did not refer to a government’s foreign adversaries, certainly not to heathen nations.  Prof. Richard A. Horsley of the University of Michigan argues:

The cluster of sayings keynoted by “love your enemies” pertains neither to external, political enemies nor to the question of nonviolence or nonresistance…The content of nearly all the sayings indicates a context of local interaction with personal enemies, not of relations with foreign or political foes…

“Love your enemies” and the related sayings apparently were understood by [Jesus’] followers…to refer to local social-economic relations, largely within the village community, which was still probably coextensive with the religious community in most cases…[although sometimes referring] to persecutors outside the religious community but still in the local residential community—and certainly not the national or political enemies. [13]

This is consistent with the ruling given by the Evangelical site GotQuestions.org, which permits governments to wage war whilst forbidding individuals from “personal vendettas”:

God has allowed for just wars throughout the history of His people. From Abraham to Deborah to David, God’s people have fought as instruments of judgment from a righteous and holy God. Romans 13:1-4 tells us to submit ourselves to government authorities and that nations have the right to bear the sword against evildoers, both foreign and domestic.

Violence occurs, but we must recognize the difference between holy judgment on sin and our own personal vendettas against those we dislike, which is the inevitable outcome of pride (Psalm 73:6).

As for the “turning the other cheek” passage, it is known that the slap on the cheek that was being referred to here was in that particular culture understood as an insult, not as assault.  The passage itself has to do with a person responding to a personal insult, and has nothing to do with pacifism.  In any case, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary clarifies:  “Of course, He applied this to personal insults, not to groups or nations.” [14]

Some Christians maintain that fighting the enemies on the battlefield does not exclude loving them.  This begs the question: how absolutely irrelevant is this strange form of “love” for enemies that does not proscribe killing them?

Whatever the reason for the contradiction between loving enemies on the one hand and killing them on the other, the point is that the comparison between a supposedly peaceful Jesus and violent Muhammad is not just a vapid oversimplification but pure falsity.  It is only through a very selective and biased analysis–a carefully crafted comparison between the most peaceful sounding verses of the New Testament (a handful of quotes from Jesus that constitute a small fraction of the Bible overall) with the most violent sounding verses of the Quran (those too out of context, as we shall see in future parts of this Series).

Anything that doesn’t fit this agenda simply “doesn’t count” (and indeed, the anti-Muslim pro-Christian readers will furiously rack their brains to figure out ways to make the violent Jesus verses “not count”).  The Islamophobic logic is thus: If we exclude all violent verses from the Bible and all the peaceful verses from the Quran, then aha!  See how much more violent the Quran is compared to the Bible! Anti-Muslim Christians scoff at Islam and exalt their religion by informing Muslims of how Jesus, unlike Muhammad, loved his enemies.  Let the Muslims reply back ever so wryly: Jesus loved them so much that he kills them.

Addendum I:

Anti-Muslim Christians often chant “Muhammad was a prophet of war, whereas Jesus was the Prince of Peace”.  A few points about this are worthy of being mentioned: first, Muhammad never used the title “prophet of war” nor is this mentioned in the Quran or anywhere else.  In fact, one of the most common epithets used for Muhammad, one found in the Quran no less, was “A Mercy to All Humanity”.  (More on this in a later part of the Series.)  Jesus, on the other hand, will be a “Warrior King” and a “Conquering King.”  Should it then be “Muhammad is A Mercy to All Humanity, whereas Jesus is the Warrior King”?

As for Jesus being the Prince of Peace, this epithet comes from Isaiah 9:6:

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

9:7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen.

One Christian website paraphrases this succinctly: “Israel’s enemies will be destroyed. Peace will flow to the four corners of the earth, as the Prince of Peace rules and reigns.”  Again, this is the “peace” that conquerers dream of.  Jesus is the Prince of Peace because he declares war, slaughters and subjugates all possible enemies to the point where nobody is left to fight, and voila!there is peace!

This brings us to the commonly quoted (and oft-debated) verse of the Bible, in which Jesus says:

Matthew 10:34 Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth.  I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Most debates focus on whether or not the word “sword” here is metaphorical or not.  Leaving aside the fact that even if this is a metaphor it is certainly a very violent sounding one, it would actually behoove us to focus on the word “peace” in this verse.  Jesus told the Jews: “do not think I have come to bring peace on earth” as a way to explain his failure to produce “the goods”: “the Jews believed that when the Messiah comes, there would be a time of world peace.”  Naturally, this world “peace” would be brought about through war.  Of course, in his Second Coming will Jesus bring this “peace on earth” (and by “peace”, what is meant is war, slaughter, and subjugation).  As we can see, this verse confirms the militant nature of the Messiah (and thus Jesus), regardless of if it is metaphorical or not.

Addendum II:

Here is another hotly debated verse, in which Jesus says:

Luke 19:27 But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.

Robert Spencer dismisses this verse, saying: “These are the words of a king in a parable.”  Yes, this was a parable that Jesus told his disciples.  But what was his intention in narrating this parable?  Gill’s Explanation to the Entire Bible explains that it was to explain what will happen to the Jews “when Christ shall come a second time”:  Jesus will “destroy the Jewish nation” for rejecting him “and then all other enemies will be slain and destroyed” as well.  Death and destruction will be the fate of whoever does not accept Jesus’ reign as Warrior King.

This was hardly an innocuous story.  It reminds us of a scene in the movie Gladiator when the evil Roman emperor Commodus tells his nephew a story about an “emperor” who was betrayed by his sister (“his own blood”) and how he “struck down” her son as revenge.  (Watch it here.)  The story was a thinly veiled threat, as was Jesus’ parable.

One can only hardly imagine how Islamophobes like Robert Spencer would react had it been the Prophet Muhammad who had used such a violent parable, threatening to return to earth in order to “slay” anyone who “did not want me to reign over them”!  This would certainly “count” since all violence in the Quran “counts” whereas whatever is peaceful in the Quran “doesn’t count”, and whatever is violent in the Bible “doesn’t count” and whatever is peaceful in the Bible “counts”.  Heads I win, tails you lose.

Footnotes

refer back to article 1. Spencer, Robert. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). Washington, DC: Regnery Pub., 2005. 24. Print.

refer back to article 2. Clare, Israel S. The Centennial Universal History: A Clear and Concise History of All Nations. P. W. Ziegler, 1876. 33. Print.

refer back to article 3. Bernal, Martin. Black Athena. Vol. 1. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ., 1996. 125. Print.

refer back to article 4. Klinghoffer, David. Why the Jews Rejected Jesus: the Turning Point in Western History. New York: Three Leaves/Doubleday, 2006. 61. Print.

refer back to article 5. Ibid., p.71

refer back to article 6. Ibid., p.64

refer back to article 7. Ibid., p.62

refer back to article 8. Ibid., p.63

refer back to article 9. Ibid., p.69

refer back to article 10. Ibid., p.161

refer back to article 11. Ibid., p.204

refer back to article 12. Jacobus, Melancthon Williams., Edward E. Nourse, and Andrew C. Zenos. A Standard Bible Dictionary. New York & London, 1909. 543. Print.

refer back to article 13. Swartley, Willard M. “Ethics and Exegesis: ‘Love Your Enemies’ and the Doctrine of Nonviolence.” The Love of Enemy and Nonretaliation in the New Testament. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox, 1992. Print.

refer back to article 14. Wiersbe, Warren W. The Wiersbe Bible Commentary. Colorado Springs: David C Cook, 2007. 21. Print.