This past week has certainly pushed religion to the forefront of public discussion. The ACLU, secular humanist organizations and Federal Government have worked hard over the last 50 years to eliminate religion and religious discussion from the public sector. Muslims from other countries have launched and are carrying out a holy war on the United States to bring the nation into submission to Islam. Imam Rauf announced that he is going to be building a 100 million dollar “community center” at ground zero. His claim is that it is to bring peace and be a uniting force among religions. Florida pastor, Terry Jones, had planned to burn about 200 Qur’ans on Saturday, September 11, the ninth anniversary of 9/11. All of this collided last week and erupted into a full blown exhibition of the double standards of the old media (mostly liberal), Federal Government along with accusations of “intolerance” from all sides. How should we respond?
As nearly anyone reading this is aware, a group of Muslims in New York plan to build a 13 story community center on the grounds of a building that was damaged in the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Landing gear and body parts came to rest on these grounds and it has been considered part of Ground Zero until the last few weeks. Families and residents of New York have made requests for Muslims to show some discretion and sensibilities and relocate the building somewhere else as it is too painful to those who lost friends and family members. No one, to my knowledge, made any claims that there is a violation of the constitution in building the structure but rather have maintained it is in poor taste and was unnecessarily divisive. Imam Rauf contends the intention was for it to be a uniting building. Barack Obama tried to make the increasingly volatile issue a constitutional issue. But again, no one suggested what they were doing was unconstitutional. Imam Rauf is claiming that some are falsely saying this is a mosque when it is a community center. This seems to be a bit dishonest. For Muslims a mosque is a community center and as such is the center of activity for Muslims. Although Rauf claims to be a more moderate Muslim that those who hijacked and flew passenger planes into the twin towers, he is unwilling to suggested or confirm that Muslim terrorist groups are Muslim terrorist groups. So, if say, Hamas is not a terrorist group, what would a moderate Muslim be and how would they act. Is Hamas moderate in his view? We don’t know and he isn’t saying but his attitude is that anyone who lost friends and family in the attack nine years ago just needs to get over it. Will Jews, Christians and other non-Muslim groups be able to pray and worship there or will all non-Muslim worship be banned as it is in other Muslim areas? Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mayor Bloomberg and other national leaders are united that that any who disagree with the building of this center are anti-constitutional religious bigots.
Enter, Pastor Terry Jones heads up Dove World Outreach Center in Gaineville, FL. Jones and his group are possibly a cult and certainly cult like as can been seen in Koran Burner: Creepier Than You Think by The Smoking Gun. As this point the issue is less about Pastor Jones and his group and more with the interesting way their plan to burn Qur’ans was treated as compared to how government officials and the old line press treat his group and Imam Rauf and his group. Pastor Jones had planned on burning about 200 Qur’ans on September 11. Pastor Jones used Acts 19:19 as his biblical justification for this event:
And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.
Pastor Jones is within his constitutional rights to burn Qur’ans but the text he used doesn’t support his actions as being biblical. For those who have heard me teach the Scriptures or answer difficult biblical questions have heard me often start by saying “context is king.” Context answers question such as this and Acts 19 is no different. The section begins (9:11 oddly enough) with Paul performing miracles, sending out handkerchiefs and aprons and those who touched them were healed. Some Jewish excorcists were trying to cast out demons by Jesus whom Paul preaches. The demons were unimpressed and leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. The news traveled to all of the Jews and Greeks in the area (Acts 9:11-17). This brings us to verses 18 & 19:
Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.
We do not find Paul or any other church leader or even church member burning any of the books in question. It was the practitioners themselves who were burning the material as part of making a break between their former belief and practices and embracing the faith. Pastor Jones has seemingly missed this and used the passage out of context. He has the constitutional right to have this event but it isn’t supported biblically and isn’t something I would do or endorse. Reaching Muslims, like reaching anyone, has its difficulties. Why add to the problem if we don’t need to? But at the same time, here is where things get interesting and show a decided and intentional double standard.
General David Petreus came out and publically denounced the action of Pastor Jones claiming that burning the Qur’an would put the soldiers in peril. I have a nephew that will soon again be deploying into one of the areas in question and do not want to see him harmed. However, the military felt perfectly fine in burning Bibles.. Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, Mayor Bloomberg and others were postitively horrified that someone could be so unkind, unthinking and bigoted as to burn the holy writings of another group. That is the group is non-Christian. Here we see that the burning or not burning of Scriptures of a particular group may not be the issue but perhaps it is how the group may respond. If the group threatens to kill over the action (Muslims) than it is suddenly wrong to carry it out. If the group only speaks out against the action (Christians) then it is okay. In fact, becomes a demonstration of religious tolerance to support a Muslim group building a structure that Muslims around the world will view as a victory mosque but is evil and un-American to burn the Scriptures of a group that consider it a religious obligation to kill non-Muslims. But again, this is not surprising.
Christianity has increasingly been held in contempt by the Federal Government over the last 50 years or so and it isn’t likely that Christians will start beheading government officials or even other citizens as a result. The National Endowment of the Arts funded “art” which included a crucifix in a jar of urine. Detractors were disregarded as anti-art, narrow minded religious bigots. Then there is the Madonna covered in elephant dung “art.” Again, Christians registered their displeasure but no threats of death on masses of non-Christians as a result. No politicians were burned in effigy. In light of the response of Muslims overseas on the mere threat of burning Qur’ans what would be the response if an art exhibit was created that included a Qur’an submerged in a container of urine? Would the artist get federal funding or would they be denounced as evil, un-American religious bigots? When Muslims put out a bounty on their heads (fatwa) would the United States denounce the Muslims or the artist? What if the exhibit also included a Qur’an covered in elephant dung? Would the National Endowment of the Arts fund such a project? Not likely. Double standards rule the day.
The federal government, president and others, have continually stated that the U.S. is not in a religious war with Islam. The problem is, Muslims are in a religious war with the U.S. whether our leadership wants to admit that or not. The result is that Islam now controls which U.S. citizens get to exercise their Constitutional rights. This was being exhibited a little with the controversy between Pastor Jones and Imam Rauf. There was a strong and as it turns out successful, attempt to stop Pastor Jones. On the other hand, there is an equally strong official governmental response to support Imam Rauf. Those who fall somewhere within the overall designation of Christian do not have a Constitutional right of free speech, but Muslims do.
Again, asked to relocate the planned building, Rauf said he couldn’t even if he wanted to because it would cause problems with Muslims in other countries. He said this isn’t a threat but a statement of fact. I think he is right here. Why? Because of the religious element for Muslims. Part of their ritual is to build victory mosques to demonstrate their power, in areas where they had successful battles and conquered a people. Cordoba (modern day Spain) is just such a place and the proposed “community center” is named “Cordoba House.” Muslims in other countries would be outraged to have their victory of the U.S. diminished in this way and create a backlash, beheadings, an increase of attacks on non-Muslims if the location of the building it changed to a location other than Ground Zero. It is a religious battle the U.S. is in even if they don’t want it to be so. The result? The free speech of those opposed to building of the mosque is controlled by Muslims in foreign nations. I guess we don’t really need to worry about the implementation of Sharia Law. Muslims have figured out how to control and limit free speech in the U.S. Simply threathen violence and our government will raise the white flag and step on its citizens to silence them.
None of this should be surprising. Christians have enjoyed a relatively peaceful atmosphere for nearly 1700 years and exerted a great influence on culture and its thinking. Apathy and abandonment of culture has seen this influence wane to the point that historical, biblical Christianity is viewed as divisive, anti-intellectual and unloving. At least that is how it is painted up. It is hated and Jesus Himself spoke directly to this:
If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.Jn. 5:18-19
Hmmm, it turns out the government and at least some of culture is at war with Christ and His church. Rather than be surprised we should do the next thing that glorifies Him regardless of the consequences.