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THE NEW HEART OF DARKNESS

Pope in CAR

Bangui is the capital of the Central African Republic, one of the worst failed states on a continent of failed states!   Most world leaders are not likely to even think about going there. But Pope Francis has just been there for two days.

It’s one of those African countries that is on the fault-line between Christianity and Islam, a fault-line that runs west to east across the continent, dividing the Islamic world to the north and the Christian world to the south.

After spending Sunday in the Christian half, today the pope ventured into the volatile Muslim half of the capital.  He delivered a message of reconciliation to the city’s main mosque and observed that Christians and Muslims have long lived peacefully together.  He described Christians and Muslims as “brothers.”

Unfortunately, it’s not really true, not in the CAR or anywhere else for that matter.

In point of fact, the opposite is the case.   For 1400 years, since the birth of the Islamic religion, the two dominant religions in the world have been in conflict.   Occasionally, those conflicts have exploded into major warfare between the two.   It looks like we are heading in that direction again!

Marco Rubio, one of the people running for President of the United States at this time, referred a couple of weeks ago to “the clash of civilizations” that has developed between radical Islam and the Christian West.   His comment has been much maligned.   One newspaper dismissed the whole concept of a clash of civilizations by pointing out that ISIS is not civilized, so it doesn’t qualify.

But that’s just the point.   ISIS has a view of the world, which is totally at variance with the view in the West.  We may consider them barbaric, but that does not make it any easier to defeat them, thereby heralding a new kumbaya world order!

Besides, ISIS isn’t the problem so much as Islam.   ISIS is relatively new.   It simply exploits a hatred that’s already there, the hatred of Muslims toward all other religions.   The intellectual elite are fond of saying that all religions are religions of peace, but where is the evidence of this, particularly when it comes to Islam?

Islam means “submission” – the very word is antithetical to what the West stands for.   Salman Rushdie warned more than a decade ago that when a Muslim moves to the West (he said “Detroit”), he is not looking to take advantage of our way of life to better himself; rather, he sees himself as part of the advance guard to spread Islam to his new country.   This is why migrants want “sharia” law, rather than to live under the legal system of their new country.

The Hungarian prime minister made a profound comment last week, when he observed, that “not all migrants are terrorists, but all terrorists are migrants.”   That comment was immediately condemned, with people pointing out that many of the terrorists in Europe are home grown.   Yes, but the home-grown terrorists are Muslims.   Some are first generation, some were raised in Europe by migrant parents. The prime minister is right – the Paris attacks and the threat of further attacks stem from a seismic shift in demographics across the continent – whereas six decades ago there were very few Muslims, now there are tens of millions.   This simple equation changes everything.

So long as Europeans and westerners in general see Islam as a peaceful religion comparable to Christianity, it will not be possible to deal with the problem we now face.

Donald Trump is another presidential candidate who has come in for a lot of criticism, especially for claiming that, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, he saw Muslims celebrating in New Jersey.   I have to say that I do not remember that.   What I do remember is a brief video of people on the West Bank (Palestinians) celebrating.   I also know that we were not shown that a second time.   In an interview a few weeks later, the chief of the CNN News Bureau that day, was asked why it was only shown briefly.   Her response was that she knew the celebrants were only a few people, that the majority couldn’t possibly feel that way, so she wouldn’t show it again.

Now the video has been recovered from the archives to expose Mr. Trump as a “liar.”   How convenient!   How typical of the liberal media.

Yesterday, one of the Sunday morning news programs interviewed Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who were in Baghdad. Both were advocating 20,000 US troops be sent to Syria to fight ISIS.   The same morning, a one-hour documentary produced by Fareed Zakaria, interviewed the German journalist who is the only known westerner to have spent time in ISIS territory.   He said that ISIS wants US troops in Syria, that’s what they have been hoping for. Once they have western troops in Syria, their home turf, they will have a fulfillment of their long held dream, the apocalyptic battle between Islam and the West, the clash of civilizations liberals deny.

Amongst other things, western forces will boost the number of ISIS volunteers.   Before the US invasion of Iraq, there was no ISIS or al-Qaeda in either Iraq or Syria.   It’s impossible to predict the outcome in the region of western coalition “boots on the ground.”

It’s not just US politicians who do not know how to deal with ISIS.   In Paris today leaders from around the world are gathered to discuss climate change.   Rather than agree a plan to defeat the immediate threat of terrorism, they are talking about the long-term threat from climate change.   They have even tried to link the two, when there is no link.

A century ago, Africa was often referred to as the “Heart of Darkness,” after a novel of that name published in 1899.   Although the story was set in Africa, it wasn’t just Africa that had a heart of darkness; the white hero Kurtz, representing imperialism at its height, was also guilty.   Today, Islam is the heart of darkness, with ISIS, a fundamentalist resurgence of primitive Islam, threatening the peace and prosperity of the world.

But Islam does not have the exclusive patent on violence.

The other major religion in the news with the pope’s visit, is Roman Catholicism. Pope Francis is currently reaching out to Muslims, claiming that Christians and Muslims are brothers.   But that approach could suddenly change.

In 1095, faced with violent attacks on Christians by Muslims, Pope Urban II called on the nations of western Europe to launch a “crusade” to free the holy places from Islamic rule.   The crusades that followed lasted two hundred years.

Far from being ancient history, the Islamic world sees today’s western nations as “crusader states” and Israel as a revival of the twelfth century Kingdom of Jerusalem.   Their medieval mindset has not moved on from that struggle.

It was the Catholic Church that galvanized the nations of western Europe to fight militant Islam.   Jesus Christ warned His followers that “false Christs” would appear before His second coming:

“Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be?  And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”  And Jesus answered and said to them:   “Take heed that no one deceives you.  For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” (Matt 24:3-5).

In Revelation 6 we see false religion as the first of the four horsemen that bring destruction upon the earth.

The medieval Christian church could be just as barbaric as ISIS.   Beheadings and burnings were common punishments for dissent.

It’s well to remember these lessons of history in the hope that we can avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

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RELIGIOUS DISPUTES DOMINATE THE NEWS

 

ben-carson-donald-trump-large-169

Religion is very much in the news these days.

Donald Trump, the leading contender for the Republican nomination in the US, made a somewhat disparaging remark about Dr. Ben Carson’s religious affiliation.   Carson is the closest rival to Trump. Whereas Trump is a mainstream Presbyterian, Carson is a Seventh Day Adventist.   Mr. Trump said he knew nothing about the SDA’s, but said it in such a way that it made the church and its members decidedly odd.

For the record the Seventh Day Adventists share many beliefs in common with the Presbyterians and other mainstream Christian denominations.   The difference between them is that the SDA’s worship on the seventh day (Saturday) as Jesus did.

Coincidentally, the new President of Fiji is a Seventh Day Adventist. His role is largely a ceremonial role, similar to that played by Queen Elizabeth, who was Fiji’s Head of State until 1987.

Four years ago, in the United States, Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith, was a factor in the election.   It was not to his favor.

It’s a pity leaders do not heed the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:12 to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”   Each individual needs to work on his own relationship with God. Christians should be careful not to judge others who may hold to a different Christian tradition.

It’s not just Christian beliefs that have come up in this election. Earlier in the current election campaign the issue of a Muslim president came up.   Neither of the two leading contenders was in favor, but the issue gave the media an opportunity to once again portray both men in a negative light.

Meanwhile, across the pond, the Hungarian Prime Minister has again expressed the fear that the flood of immigrants arriving in Europe will destroy the continent’s Christian (i.e. Catholic) roots.

Europe certainly does have Christian roots, but there is little evidence of those roots these days, as most people have embraced secular humanism.   Only Russia’s leader seems to hold any serious Christian beliefs.   Fortunately, he seems set on saving Christians in the Middle East from Islamic extremism.

In today’s USA Today, an article carries the headline, “Under ISIL’s brutal rule, Iraqis are in constant fear,” written by Kiran Nazish.     A schoolteacher who escaped last month is quoted as observing:   “In more than one year, the Islamic State has created a society where it’s normal for children to watch their elders being murdered by them.”

If you didn’t get it the first time, be sure to read that sentence again.   What it’s saying is that children are watching other children murder adults.  Other articles in recent months have claimed that children not only shoot adults, they are even being trained to behead them. This is the kind of world we now live in.

Fearful of Islam and those refugees from Islamic lands crossing their borders, Poles voted yesterday for a more conservative government.  This is likely to be a trend across Europe as people put security at the top of their concerns.

By far the worst and most serious religious conflict has flared up again in Jerusalem, where Palestinians have been waging a renewed intifada against Israel.   The first intifada was in 1987.   They are trying to drive the Jews out of the West Bank.   If they succeed, it would be a prelude to driving them into the sea.

Palestinians have been angry over the Israelis not allowing young men on to the Temple Mount, which they call Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary).   It’s also a part of the general frustration they feel after seventy years of the nation of Israel.

Meanwhile, an old issue has resurfaced – the role of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem during World War II.

“Philadelphia, PA – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has drawn criticism for comments about the role of al-Hajj Amin al-Husaini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, in conceiving and perpetrating the Holocaust.   Indeed, leading Nazi aides testified that al-Husaini was one of the instigators of the genocide.  In his 1999 autobiography, a senior Nazi official admitted how he advised Hitler and other leading Nazis, and that he acquired full knowledge of the ongoing mass murder.

Middle East Forum scholar, historian, and author Wolfgang G. Schwanitz added, “It is a historical fact that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem al-Hajj Amin al-Husaini was an accomplice whose collaboration with Adolf Hitler played an important role in the Holocaust.   He was the foremost extra-European adviser in the process to destroy the Jews of Europe.”  (“Mufti Advised Hitler on Holocaust”, Middle East Forum, October 21st.)

The Mufti’s successor, Sheikh Muhammed Ahmad Hussein, is now saying that the Temple Mount never housed a Jewish Temple and that the al-Aqsa mosque has been there “since the creation of the world” (Times of Israel, Monday).

If these words were intended to be the last word on the most disputed piece of real estate in the world, he may be surprised at the reaction.

The latest uprising by Palestinian youth has led to the murder of Jews on the streets of Jerusalem.   The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now allowing Palestinian youths on to the Temple Mount, even though it poses a security risk.

There are increasing calls from religious and regional leaders for international supervision of the Temple Mount.

To think that fifty years ago, when I was a teenager, it was widely thought that religion and religious conflict were things of the past!

 

 

THE POPE AND THE PRESIDENT

U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Pope Francis (R) during their meeting at the Vatican March 27, 2014. Obama's first meeting on Thursday with Pope Francis was expected to focus on the fight against poverty and skirt moral controversies over abortion and gay rights.
U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Pope Francis (R) during their meeting at the Vatican March 27, 2014. Obama’s first meeting on Thursday with Pope Francis was expected to focus on the fight against poverty and skirt moral controversies over abortion and gay rights.

The Founding Fathers of the United States could not have imagined such a scene ever taking place in this country.

The scene was played out this morning on the White House lawn. The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, together with a US president of African heritage with a Muslim father and other definite Muslim connections.

Whereas the US was 98% Protestant at its founding, today there are arguably only two faiths that matter – Catholicism and Islam.

Certainly, these are the only two that dominate news headlines.

Just a few days ago, the leading Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump was asked a question by a man who believed that President Obama is a Muslim.   Because he did not correct the man, it is assumed he believes the same way and he has been greatly criticized for it.   Of course, if there’s nothing wrong with Islam, why should anybody get upset if described as being Muslim!

A day or two later, Ben Carson, another Republican candidate, a quiet, reserved and respectful man who is a double minority, both black and a Seventh Day Adventist Christian, was asked what he thought of having a Muslim president.   He was not in favor of it and has since been accused of racism!

Fifty years ago, when Senator Edward Kennedy sponsored the bill, which became the new immigration law, he said Americans would not see any noticeable change in the fabric of the country.   Here we are five decades later in a very different religious landscape thanks to that immigration act.

It doesn’t take a Donald Trump or a Ben Carson for Islam to make the news every day.   Migrants moving into Europe from the Middle East and Africa underline the dysfunctionality of Islamic countries, racked with ethnic, ideological and religious strife.   Under international law, when people flee one country they should register for refugee status in the first country they come to; but international laws are being broken every day as people push their way through borders and barriers toward their number one goal, Germany or Sweden.   None seems to want to go to any oil rich Arab country, which speaks the same language.   One migrant made it clear when he said: “Europeans have more compassion!”

That compassion stems from Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant.   For centuries, monks and nuns provided the only hospital care available for travelers and locals alike.   They also provided food and drink to the poor.

Yes, Christianity and Islam are very different.   Only the Hungarian leader, Viktor Orban, seems to be pointing that out, saying his country does not want the migrants.   Hungary suffered for almost two centuries under Islamic rule, so it’s not surprising that they don’t want Muslims back.  Mr. Orban has said that the massive movement of migrants into the country threatens the nation’s Christian heritage.   For this realistic comment, he is being condemned by the emotional majority more influenced by television images of people pushing further into Europe.

It is doubtful the enthusiasm for Muslim immigrants will last long. Then what?

Catholicism and Islam have clashed repeatedly throughout history – and could do so again.   People in the West have largely forgotten this past history or don’t care.   But that’s not the case in the Islamic world where the term “crusaders” is often used to describe westerners, a reference to the Crusades between Catholic Europe and the forces of Islam that began in 1095 and lasted for two centuries.

There were other less famous clashes between the two.   In the eighth century Muslims invaded Spain and France, until they were defeated in 732 by Charles Martel. His grandson Charlemagne was still fighting the North African invaders decades later.   After the Crusades ended, there were other clashes as the Ottoman Turks advanced westward, conquering islands in the Mediterranean and moving fairly rapidly into the heart of Europe.

The historic rivalry between Rome and the Islamic world will likely be a part of the prophesied clash between the King of the North and King of the South in the last verses of the Book of Daniel, chapter 11.   Earlier this year the leaders of ISIS threatened to invade Rome and kill the pope.

Islam has certainly succeeded in dividing the West in the early years of this century, as both Americans and Europeans hold different opinions on how best to deal with the migrant crisis.   Some are fearful about security while others just want to help, not realizing there are a number of rich Arab countries, which could take the Syrians in.   Not all the migrants are Syrians – a British newspaper revealed last Saturday that only 1 in 5 migrants is a Syrian refugee.   The others are economic migrants and could be sent home under international law.

Is this the end of western civilization, as Mr. Orban fears?   That’s not likely.   What is more likely is that westerners will change their thinking when they experience the reality of greater numbers of Muslims.   Anti-immigrant parties are likely to come to power, promising to do something to restore their countries to what they were.

Islam means “submission,”   In spite of denials by national news presenters, this makes the religion incompatible with the US Constitution, which is based on freedom.   And just as Islam is incompatible with freedom, so is Roman Catholicism, a religion that dominated Western Europe for over a thousand years, until the Protestant Reformation introduced an element of religious freedom.   It was English Protestants who founded James Town and Protestants of mostly British descent who founded the United States.   Today’s Protestants seem to have very little influence in the country, a fact that increasingly threatens religious freedom.

What we saw today on the White House lawn was, in a sense, a profile of three religions – Catholicism, represented by the Pope; Islam, represented by the American son of a Muslim Kenyan father; and Protestantism, represented by the White House itself, the US Constitution, and the soldiers in early American uniforms.

The first two are on the rise – the Church of Rome and Islam!