Catholic commentary on culture, media, and politics.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

We're Gonna Party Like It's 1978

At some point, rational people are going to have to re-evaluate the popular presupposition that Islam is a religion of peace. I don't mean the radical jihadist version, the Al Qaeda version, or the Wahhabi version. I mean the religious form that began with, and is animated by, the alleged revelations to the Prophet Muhammad. I mean the prescriptions in favor of sharia law everywhere, and the proscriptions against the infidel, as found in the Qur'an itself and what that book commands of its adherents.


Blogger Mark said...

Debate? Not likely. Only Muslims can argue this one. The rest of us can judge the Koran and Mohammed as we please (crackpot religion), but we either accept it as it is or call it nuts to start with.

It's like Mormonism. Anyone who isn't a Mormon knows its nuts, but it's going pretty strong. It's the Mormons now who want to be accepted as Christians and are trtying to find ways to get around their "scripture".

8:37 AM

Blogger Dr. Dawg said...

Have you actually read the Qur'an? Check out Sura 109:

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
[109:1] Say, "O you disbelievers.
[109:2] "I do not worship what you worship.
[109:3] "Nor do you worship what I worship.
[109:4] "Nor will I ever worship what you worship.
[109:5] "Nor will you ever worship what I worship.
[109:6] "To you is your religion, and to me is my religion."

There's pretty horrendous stuff in most religions, Judaism, Christianity, you name it. (Except, it seems, for Buddhism, the only religion without terrorists.) It all depends what people inside and outside any of those religions want to emphasize.

For any verse in the Qur'an, I can offer one from the Bible that matches it in spirit. There are lots of Old Testament folks around these days--too many--thumping their Bibles and calling for a Holy War of their own. Singling out Islam and attempting to make the case that it was somehow evil in its very inception, is way off the mark.

8:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. D:

What I need from you is specific instances of "horrendous stuff" in Christianity or Judaism. Please don't include bad personal behavior since bad personal behavior is the very disease for which both religions exist to amend. It's an obvious given. The difference with Islam, it seesm to me, is that its followers are able to find explicit commands to kill innocents and enforce the "convert or die" ideology in its sacred book.

Can you give us one single Bible passage commanding terrorism or the murder of innocents, or forced conversion to the Jewish or Christian faith?

11:12 AM

Anonymous Balaam's Ass said...

Dear Dr. Dawg

Weird moral equivolence argument. And not true.

Any group, religious or non-religious, can have a radical or two that want to blow up things. But just look at the number of cases of "Christian terrorism" in our world--that is, terrorism in the name of Christ. I can think of an abortion clinic bombing once in a while -- and always instantly condemned by all Christian churches. Now think of the number of cases of terrorist acts carried out in the name of Islam and Allah (and NOT condemned by vast portions of Islam).

Well, your comparison is like saying, "The Soviet Government killed people in the Gulag; the US government killed people at Ruby Ridge. They're the same."

11:25 AM

Blogger Dr. Dawg said...

Bear with me, because this is a long post. There may be another with Biblical references coming soon.

You already know about the pub-bombing Catholic IRA in Belfast,
and the Christian fundamentalists who did Waco, but here are a few
more examples. I don’t think you can just wish away Christian terrorism at abortion clinics with a handwave, so I’ll start with them:

1) The anti-abortion folks:
"Listen to Randall Terry, founder of the violent anti-abortion
terrorist group they call "Operation Rescue" -- "You abortion people
better flee, because we will find you, and we will execute you. I mean
every word of it. I have made it a part of my mission to see that you
are tried and executed. I am a Christian Reconstructionist. I believe the Christian church should run this country. Let's get the State out of the Church's business. The Christian bible is the center of
civilization." "


"A religious fundamentalist was sentenced Thursday to five years in
prison for plotting to blow up abortion clinics, churches he disagreed with and gay bars after a judge ruled he is not a terrorist under federal law.

Stephen John Jordi, who was turned in by relatives and church members,
received the minimum sentence after U.S. District Judge James Cohn
decided not to treat him as a terrorist as the prosecutors requested.

They had wanted Jordi to receive a sentence of seven to 10 years...
Jordi corresponded with Paul Hill, who was executed last September for
murdering a Pensacola abortion doctor and his volunteer escort. Jordi protested outside the prison during Hill's execution and gave
newspaper interviews in support of Hill.

Prosecutors say Jordi wanted to emulate Atlanta Olympic bombing
suspect Eric Rudolph by living off the land after the bombings.
Jordi told the informant that he planned to carry out the bombings for 30 to 40 years or until he was caught, a comment that left the judge with "grave concerns" that Jordi's "very strong convictions" might make him dangerous after his release."


"An anti-abortion activist, calling for a new wave of violence against
clinics and doctors, is following the example of violent Islamic
fundamentalists, telling those who share his views to become
"Christian terrorists" and promising them a reward in Heaven.
"As cream rising to the top of the milk, so the Christian terrorist
rises above the huddled masses of churchgoers and the many voices
which denounce their violent attempts to defend the innocent from
they're [sic] murderous assailants," Chuck Spingola wrote in a posting
on the Army of God Web site."


2) The Aryan Nations crowd:

"The Order (AKA Bruders Schweigen or Silent Brotherhood) is a
largely-defunct faction of the Aryan Nations Aryan Nations (AN) is an
American anti-government, anti-Semitic white nationalist group. It was
founded in the 1970s by Richard Girnt Butler as an arm of the
Christian Identity group Church of Jesus Christ-Christian. The group
had a network of prison gang members called the Aryan Brotherhood.
Its origin lies in the teachings of Wesley Swift, a significant figure
in the early Christian Identity
"FBI agent Wayne Mantis called The Order "the most organized group of
terrorist -type people to have ever operated in the United States."
"The Order was led by Robert Jay Mathews Robert Jay Mathews (also
known as Bob Mathews) was the co-founder and leader of a notorious
U.S. white supremacist organization called The Order. In the early
1980's, Bob Mathews and other members of his organization were
responsible for a number of bank robberies including one of the
largest in U.S. history.
"Mathews and the other members of the Order were eventually betrayed
by one of their members, a counterfeiter named Tom Martinez. After Martinez revealed critical information regarding Mathews's activities to the FBI, Mathews was eventually hunted down and ambushed in a small cabin on Whidbey Island in Washington by over 50 agents.

"Mathews led the Order through a series of violent crimes, including
bank robberies and bombings of theaters and synagogues. The Order also ran a large counterfeiting operation, and executed a series of armored car robberies, including one in Ukiah, California that netted $3.8 million.
"By turning members of the Order into informers, FBI agents were able
to track down Mathews in December of 1984 to a cabin in Whidbey Island
where he refused to surrender. Mathews burned to death in a fire
during the ensuing shoot out.

"Ten members of the group were convicted of the June 18 murder of Alan Berg , a liberal, Jewish Denver-area radio talk show host."


[For information re The Church of Jesus Christ-Christian, aka Aryan
Nations, see]

But don't get the idea I'm just picking on the US:

3) Christian terrorism in Indonesia:

"Conflict in the Poso district:
The Poso district is in central Sulawesi, about 1,000 miles northeast of Jakarta. Christians originally settled the district. Muslim immigrants have since arrived. Christians still retain a slight majority in that area.

"A dispute started between Muslims and Christians over the control of
the local government in late 1998. It rapidly escalated into
widespread clashes between the two religious groups. Hundreds died.

"According to Foreign Affairs magazine, in 2000-MAY, 70 Muslims who had surrendered at a school were murdered in cold blood by Christians
wielding homemade guns and machetes.
Christians later hunted down
other Muslims, slashed their throats, and tossed their bodies into rivers. Others were strung up on homemade wire nooses."


"2000-JAN-12: Malukus Islands:

According to ReligionToday:

"Hundreds of Muslims have died, some in mosques, in religious violence
in the Moluccas (a.k.a. Malukus) islands. Scores of charred corpses
reportedly were recovered from burned-out mosques on the chain of
islands 1,550 miles northeast of Jakarta, Indonesia, CNN said. 'It's very difficult to count the bodies,' which were 'torched and burned by unidentified people,' said Mursal Amal Tomagola of Medical Emergency, an aid group. Authorities believe
nearly 1,000 people have died in the past two weeks after a Christian
bus driver accidentally killed a Muslim boy. At least 1,500 have died
in similar outbursts of violence since last January, CNN said. The
Moluccas are traditionally Christian..." " Source:

4) Christian terrorism in India:

"The NLFT has been an active partner of the Baptist Church in winning
converts to the Christian creed. They have killed tribal priests to
threaten communities and effect mass conversions. But those tactics
have obviously backfired. In 2001 alone, the NLFT killed more than 20
Hindus who refused to 'accept the love of Christ'. They also torched
to death a Hindu family sleeping in a hut6. In 2001, community chiefs
and religious heads of 19 tribes formed the 'Tribal Culture Protection Committee' to counter the threat posed by the NLFT7. Despite the NLFT taking all possible steps to enforce conversions, the conversions are
still slow. Frustrated, the NLFT has now begun an all out war against
Hindu tribals."


And, if you don't like that source:

"The government in India's north-eastern state of Tripura says it has evidence that the state's Baptist Church is involved in backing separatist rebels.

"Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said state police had uncovered
details of the alleged link after questioning a church leader.

"Nagmanlal Halam, secretary of the Noapara Baptist Church in Tripura,
was arrested late on Monday with a large quantity of explosives.

"Mr Sarkar said that allegations about the close links between the
state's Baptist Church and the rebel National Liberation Front of
Tripura (NLFT) have long been made by political parties and police.

"Now for the first time, he said, hard evidence supporting the
allegations had been found."


"Separatist group bans Hindu festivities"

"The leading separatist group in the north-east Indian state of
Tripura has ordered indigenous tribespeople to stay away from
celebrations of the Hindu festival Durga Puja.

"The outlawed National Liberation Front of Tripura warned that any
tribal members seen taking part in the festival would be killed.

"In a statement, the NLFT said it wanted all tribespeople in Tripura
to become Christians because the practice of Hinduism has led to them
being marginalised by people of Bengali origin living in the state.

"The Durga Puja is the biggest festival to be celebrated by Hindus
from Bengal."


5) Christian terrorism in Nigeria:

"In the Eastern Nigerian city of Numan Christian gangs attacked the
Muslim minority and destroyed a mosque tearing town the minaret. In
the clashes that followed nine people were killed, according to the
police. Witnesses put the death toll closer to 50. The Christians took
offense at the minaret being higher than the nearby palace of their
tribal leader. While the Muslims would have been willing to move the
mosque elsewhere, provided they would receive compensation for it, on Tuesday talks were cut short. Now the police have declared a curfew."



"YELWA, Nigeria - Injured, hungry and grieving Muslims abandoned their
central Nigerian town Friday amid stalled efforts to mediate a
conflict that has left an estimated 500 dead in attacks by fighters of
a predominantly Christian tribe.
"They came from God, they go back to God," 49-year-old Jumai Isa said
of her husband and five children, shot and hacked to death by men
wearing charcoal body paint and bandanas. "Now I want to go away."
A Red Cross team visiting Yelwa estimated Thursday that there were
"500 to 600 killed" by Christian Tarok-speakers during attacks Sunday
and Tuesday, team leader Umar Abdu Mairiga said."


Conclusions? No one religion has a monopoly on terrorism or
fanaticism. And Christianity most assuredly does not get a pass.

I'll follow up, if I have time, with a selection of Biblical quotes.

3:51 PM

Blogger Dr. Dawg said...

Here's the follow-up I promised:

And here are a few from the Bible. Don't even get me started on

Luke 12:46
The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect
him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and
assign him a place with the unbelievers.

Leviticus 18:22
Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

Leviticus 20:13
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them
have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death;
their blood shall be upon them.

Proverbs 23:14
Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from

Luke 12
46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not
for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in
sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.

2 Corinthians 6:14
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what
fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion
hath light with darkness?

Leviticus 21:9
And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the
whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire.

Deuteronomy 12:3
And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn
their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of
their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.

Joshua 8:8
And it shall be, when ye have taken the city, that ye shall set the city on fire: according to the commandment of the LORD shall ye do.
See, I have commanded you.

John 10:31
Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.

John 10:33
The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but
for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

2 Thessalonians 1:9
Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

2 Peter 2:9
The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to
reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

3:57 PM

Blogger Clayton said...

Or, as an alternative, we could party like it's April 19, 2005.

5:34 PM

Anonymous Patrick said...

Dr. Dawg:

If you think I have time to answer your extravagant news source litany, you're incorrect. Besides, half of your sources are from secular fundamentalists with anti-religion axes to grind (gee, -- now there's open-minded tolerance of opposing viewpoints!)

My point still stands: Christians, almost with perfect unity, have condemned the Paul Hills (and the Randall Terrys when they've advocated violence or murder), and your David Koresh reference is funny since many former Branch Davidians testified that he was severely mentally ill.

Your other examples from the Bible are inscrutable ("The Jews picked up stones to throw at Jesus" -- this is religious terrorism?), with the exception of Levitical prohibitions which seem harsh by today's moral standards and which the Catholic Church teaches are no longer binding. As does Orthodox Judaism.

None can be equated with the very clear commands in the Qu'ran to kill, force and dominate all non-Islamic territories. Where is the Muslim outrage at 9-11, or the Bali nightclub bombing, or any of the scores of innocent Jewish children blown to bits on the way to school in Israel, or the savage beheadings of civilians, including women, who are totally uninvolved with the US military in Iraq?

If any one of those butchers were Christians, the worldwide outcry of disgust and condemnation from other Christians would be deafening and long-lasting.

But something tells me you haven't figured that out yet. Even your IRA example shows that you must be joking. The IRA have been condemned with vigor by the Irish Church and by all thinking Christians including those who happen to agree with their political goals. None of them read the New Testament and conclude that Jesus wants them fly to London to blow up British shoppers at Christmastime. IRA terrorists are an embarrassment to the land of saints and scholars -- thugs whose Catholicism is even less influential to them than Judaism is to Howard Stern. Their hatred is political, not sectarian. It's not like Seamus of Belfast would lay down his arms if only Roderick the Derry would accept the Immaculate Conception.

As for your dragging in the Aryan Nations, what can I say? You jumped the shark right there.

9:10 PM

Blogger Dr. Dawg said...

Sorry about the long response, Patrick, but you must know that this is not a simple discussion, to be settled by rhetorical flourishes. Don't get upset because I took you seriously.

You ignored the examples of Christian terrorism that I provided from India, Indonesia and Nigeria. And you simply wished the other examples away, as in:

"Even your IRA example shows that you must be joking. The IRA have been condemned with vigor by the Irish Church and by all thinking Christians including those who happen to agree with their political goals."

Consider what you are saying here. You are first of all ignoring the priests who have been connected to the IRA and who have not been sanctioned by their bishops for doing so. You are ignoring veteran hate-mongers like Ian Paisley. And you slip in that "thinking Christians" phrase to make what I think is a rather sly distinction: because, of course, there are also "thinking Muslims" who are none-too-keen on beheading hostages or flying planes into buildings.

The Aryan Nations crowd *say* they are Christians. The people who bombed the building in Oklahoma (I don't know what I was doing substituting "Waco" in that example--I agree with you about Koresh)said *they* were Christians, too.

Within the world of Islam, there are more than a few who speak out about "un-Islamic" behaviour by their co-religionists, such as stoning women in Nigeria (you must know that the Qur'an nowhere prescribes stoning as a punishment).

The Biblical references I provided were merely to indicate that one can find exhortations to violence and intolerance in the Bible. I would be interested in Qur'anic references to back up your claims about the nature of Islam. On the face of it, you seem to be contradicting the many references to the People of the Book.

You are also ignoring, I think, the overwhelmingly political context in which Islam, certainly in the ME, is working itself out. Sometimes religion is just a cloak for political acts and positions; I would argue that the rise of American fundamentalism is certainly morally equivalent to some strains of Islam, emphasizing the negative and the aggressive, and causing much loss of life (Bush's various crusades, for example).

To look for root causes in the very nature of Islam itself, without paying attention to the real everyday grievances of entire peoples (e.g., the Palestinians) is wrong-headed. No religion has a fixed nature in any case, only a shifting and multi-faceted perspective through time. Sometimes that perspective is benign, sometimes malignant.

Anyway, my point was merely to indicate that irrational and hateful behaviour can stem from virtually any religion, and does. And here I will bow out. I'm obviously in the wrong place for such discussions.


6:17 AM

Anonymous Patrick said...

Dr. D:

I have to agree with your last statement. For one thing, a blog is too limited a forum for an endless back and forth, and I lack the time to address every jot and tittle of what you're saying. Thanks for contributing anyway.

8:37 AM


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