At least two Protestant churches have recently opened their facilities to Muslim groups whose own buildings are either too small or under construction. From Fox News:
Heartsong Church in Cordova, Tenn., let members of the Memphis Islamic Center hold Ramadan prayers there last September. And Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Alexandria, Va., allows the Islamic Circle of North America to hold regular Friday prayers in their building while their new mosque is being built.
Diane Bechtol of Aldersgate says this is something Christians are called to do: Be neighborly and develop relationships - even [with] those who don't share your beliefs.
"I think it's a tenet of our Christian faith, and that is that we extend hospitality to the stranger,” said Bechtol.
This is so problematic on so many levels, it's hard to even know where to begin.
For starters, Islam is not a religion -- not in the way that every other major religion conceives of religion. Indeed, New English Review managing editor Rebecca Bynum has written a whole book making that case (Allah Is Dead: Why Islam Is Not a Religion). Regular readers of this blog probably know why: Islam is a totalitarian political ideology that uses religious concepts to secure its adherents' permanent loyalty, under threat of hell. That's not the same thing as a religion, which is a spiritual way of life whose goals are to help adherents draw closer to God, however He is conceived, and to grow in virtue. Islam, by contrast, excuses and often fosters -- indeed, sometimes commands -- the very opposite of virtue: theft, lying, fraud, rape, slavery, torture, murder, oppression and all manner of cruelty. That's not what a religion does, be it Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Taoism, Hinduism or Buddhism.
But leaving that consideration aside, ponder these very practical questions posed on the Epistoli blog:
1. Would Muslims allow Christians to hold services in their mosques? I doubt it. I couldn't even get into the Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem last year, [because] I wasn't a Muslim.
2. Why are Muslims around the world destroying Christian churches?
3. Would Democrats allow Republicans to use their campaign offices in the off-shifts during an election campaign?
4. Didn't Jesus throw money-changers out of the temple? And they were only money-changers, not an organization that wants to conquer the world for its own religion and is prepared to destroy those that remain unbelievers.
Then, there's the problem of who these particular Muslims are affiliated with, and what their agenda is.
Mohamed Elsanousi, who, according to the Fox story, advocates Christian churches sharing their worship spaces with Muslims, is the National Community Outreach Director of none other than the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). You may recognize the ISNA as being one of the villains in the Holy Land Foundation Hamas-funding trial. According to the landmark report Shariah: The Threat to America, in the course of that trial,
thanks to evidence of financial transactions between ISNA and Hamas that the government introduced, along with scores of MB [Muslim Brotherhood] documents, it became clear that the Islamic Society of North America directly supports Hamas and its operations. [emphasis added]
Hamas is, of course, a terrorist offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the "parent organization" of nearly all the Muslim terrorist groups active in the world today except for those founded by Iran. Hamas spells out in its charter its twin goals of the annihilation of Israel and the worldwide enforcement of shariah law. According to documents discovered in an FBI raid in 2004, the Muslim Brotherhood includes more than twenty U.S. Muslim groups as affiliates or "friends" in its goal of "eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within." ISNA is not only on that list, it is the first group listed! The fact that ISNA is using non-violent methods (oh, except for its funding of Hamas!), as opposed to the blatantly violent methods of al-Qaeda, is no comfort when it shares the same identical goal of destroying our republic and replacing it with shariah.
Back to the Aldersgate United Methodist Church, which is allowing the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) to hold Friday prayers in their facility. The ICNA is no better than the ISNA. Here's what Discover the Networks has to say about the group:
Based in Queens, New York, ICNA’s activities include training camps, study circles, speakers’ forums, night vigils, seminars, and retreats.
ICNA has established a reputation for bringing anti-American radicals to speak at its annual conferences. Moreover, experts have long documented the organization's ties to Islamic terrorist groups. Yehudit Barsky, a terrorism expert at the American Jewish Committee, has said that ICNA "is composed of members of Jamaat e-Islami, a Pakistani Islamic radical organization similar to the Muslim Brotherhood that helped to establish the Taliban." (Pakistani newspapers have reported that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a leading architect of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was offered refuge in the home of Jamaat e-Islami's leader, Ahmed Quddoos.) On September 27, 1997, another Pakistani Islamist leader, Maulana Shafayat Mohamed, played host to an ICNA conference at his Florida-based fundamentalist madrassa (religious school), which served as a recruitment center for Taliban fighters.
In part because of such revelations, ICNA is now under investigation by U.S. authorities for possible connections to terrorist groups. In December 2003, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee requested that the Internal Revenue Service provide detailed information on 25 U.S. Muslim organizations, including ICNA.
In March 1996, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell stated, "One of the groups with Hamas ties is the Dallas-based Islamic Association for Palestine in North America, which, in turn, apparently is allied with the Islamic Circle of North America in New York." The New York Daily News reports that ICNA has been "probed by FBI counter-terrorism agents" for "terror ties."
Terrorism analyst Steven Emerson claims that ICNA has close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, the ideological forebear of all radical Islamic movements -- including Hamas and al-Qaeda. Documents show that Hamas officials have participated in previous ICNA events. "The ICNA's hatred of the Jews is so fierce," writes Emerson, "that it taunted them with a repetition of what Hitler did to them." In his book American Jihad, Emerson expounds: "The ICNA openly supports militant Islamic fundamentalist organizations, praises terror attacks, issues incendiary attacks on western values and policies, and supports the imposition of Sharia [Islamic law]."
Attention, Aldersgate United Methodist Church: You do not need to -- indeed, you should not -- share your worship space with the Islamic Circle of North America!
Some Christians' minds are so "open" that their brains are falling out. They're so eager to congratulate themselves for being "progressive" and "tolerant" that they lose sight of "loving your neighbor" really means. If your neighbor is in the grip of an oppressive, diabolical cult, you are not doing him or her any favors by enabling or encouraging that cult! The truly charitable act would be to tell them about the freedom and peace that Jesus uniquely offers them. I think Mike Huckabee's got it right on this issue:
"As much as I respect the autonomy of each local church, you just wonder, what are they thinking?" Huckabee said.
"If the purpose of a church is to push forward the gospel of Jesus Christ, and then you have a Muslim group that says that Jesus Christ and all the people that follow him are a bunch of infidels who should be essentially obliterated, I have a hard time understanding that.
"I mean if a church is nothing more than a facility and a meeting place free for any and all viewpoints, without regard to what it is, then should the church be rented out to show adult movies on the weekend?"
This is not to say that Christians should not show charity in practical ways. From the Fox story:
Dr. Jason Hood, an Evangelical theologian, says there are other ways Christians can share the love of Christ without building a bridge too far. "Caring for Muslim refugees is particularly important,” he says, along with "sharing meals and recreational opportunities."
We don't need to wonder "What would Jesus do?", since the Gospels tell us precisely what He did. The Heartsong and Aldersgate congregations would do well to re-read those passages in the Gospels that describe the way that Jesus showed His mercy toward those who were under the spell of demonic powers. (See for example Mark 5:1-20.) Jesus showed mercy not by being hospitable to demons who were holding precious human beings in bondage! Rather, Jesus did the loving thing by casting the demons out, and thus freeing their human victims from captivity.