Islam, Secularism and the Gospel
Michael CravenS. Michael Craven is the President of H.I.S. BridgeBuilders and the author of Uncompromised Faith: Overcoming Our Culturalized Christianity (Navpress, 2009). H.I.S. BridgeBuilders is an urban missionary ministry that works to bring the redemptive power of God’s kingdom to bear upon the poverty-ravaged areas of our city, restoring people, families, and communities through spiritual, educational and economic development to the glory of God. To learn more, visit: www.hisbridgebuilders.org
- 2008 Sep 22
While Britons may think of America as its juvenile and impetuous offspring, Great Britain has surely become our senile grandmother. Through repeated acts of self-condemnation and political correctness, the British are systematically capitulating to all things Islamic. In essence, our British forbearers are committing cultural suicide.
In what may appear to be deferential considerations to their growing Muslim population, British authorities are slowly conforming to the demands of an increasingly outspoken and violent minority.
Already in Britain, Muslim men with multiple wives have been given the go-ahead to claim extra welfare benefits following a year-long government review. Even though bigamy is a crime in Britain, the decision by British authorities means that polygamous marriages can now be recognized formally (not to mentioned subsidized) by the state, so long as the weddings took place in countries where the arrangement is legal. And yes, polygamy remains a norm in the Muslim world.
In other another act of mindless irony, the Research, Information and Communication Unit, a division of the British Home Office, established for the purpose of countering al-Qaeda’s influence in the UK, is actually instructing civil servants not to use terms such as “Islamist extremism” or “jihadi fundamentalist.” Instead, they are to use phrases such as “violent extremism” or “criminal murderers” or “thugs” to avoid any implication that there is connection between Islam and terrorism.
Closer to home, the US government also issued guidelines earlier this year for the Department of Homeland Security suggesting such terms as “jihad” and “Islamic terrorism” not be used. (Where is the Ronald Reagan of our generation who is willing to call evil evil?)
So ridiculous have British concessions to Muslim demands become that Fortis Bank “stopped giving piggy banks to children for fear of offending Muslims,” according to The Times of London. (Pigs are an offensive, unclean animal to Muslims.) There are also accounts of Muslim nurses refusing to comply with hygiene procedures on the grounds that scrubbing requires them to bare their arms.
And this past week, Fox News reported that “Islamic law has been officially adopted in Britain, with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases.” According to news reports, “The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.” Adding that “rulings issued by a network of five sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system…”
In an astonishing statement, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, said there was no reason why sharia law, derived from several sources including the Qur´an, could not be used for contractual agreements and marital disputes. The first question that comes to my mind: How does British society plan to mitigate between the Western and Muslim views relative to the rights of women?
The first public signs of appeasement emerged in the wake of the Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa (death edict) against British author Salman Rushdie in 1989. Thousands of British Muslims marched in the streets calling for Rushdie to be killed while the British authorities thought it best to “play it cool,” according to Mark Steyn, author of America Alone. Of the more than 100 demonstrators arrested for violent assaults on the police that day, all were released without charges. British non-Muslims held a (much smaller) counter-demonstration shortly thereafter to uphold the right to free speech—meaning the free speech of Salman Rushdie—only to be attacked and beaten by Muslims.
Playing it cool has only emboldened Muslim radicals and the calls for blood and violence increase. Today there are sections of London in which no non-Muslim dare venture for fear of being killed.
And the same is occurring across the rest of Europe. Recall the French riots in 2005 in which thousands of young Muslims, armed with clubs and sticks and shouting, “Allah Akbar!” stormed the streets. Windows were smashed; stores looted and cars were torched. Europeans trapped by the mob were viciously attacked, and some killed. The trouble in France finally ended only when various levels of French authorities quietly accepted that there were de facto no-go areas within the country, mini-Islamistans run by the dominant local Muslim majority. Shortly after, riots in Denmark featured Muslims taunting authorities, saying, “This territory belongs to Islam; you don’t belong here.” In a growing number of Western European nations there are now territories that have been effectively occupied by Islamic fundamentalists determined to subdue their host countries.
Iman Abdelali Hamdoune revealed the goal of Islam when he urged the Muslim faithful:
Do not permit your children to follow the example of the French. They should comport themselves in a totally different manner than the French. Here in France we have to impose ourselves, and impose Islam.
Recently, the United Nations General Assembly began considering a resolution sponsored by the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) under the altruistic title of “Combating Defamation of Religion.” Supporters claim its goal is to stamp out “incitement to religious hatred, against Islam and Muslims in particular.” Of course, Muslims are at liberty to incite hatred and violence against other religions and infidels. Felice Gaer, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan federal body, says it’s clear that the OIC countries are attempting to “mainstream” prohibitions on any speech that could be considered critical of Islam. So when Muslims take to the streets with signs reading BEHEAD THOSE WHO INSULT ISLAM, it would be insensitive of us to suggest that perhaps Islam is a factor in breeding violence. Hmm?
Next week I will explore the philosophical preconditions that have rendered Europe so impotent in its response to radical Islam, demonstrating that these same conditions are emerging within our own society. In short, there are three worldviews today that are contending to “narrate the world” (in the words of theologian Robert Webber)—Christianity, secular humanism, and Islam.
I will argue that the American church, in its present state, will not be able to counter the Islamic effort to narrate the world until it is liberated from its own cultural captivity. American evangelicalism, with its emphasis on personal experience and therapy, has produced a narcissistic faith that centers on self rather than Christ and the redemptive mission of God—and this has rendered the Christian story of the world shallow and irrelevant.
© 2008 by S. Michael Craven
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S. Michael Craven is the founder and President of the Center for Christ & Culture. Michael is the author of Uncompromised Faith, published by Navpress and scheduled for release January 2009. Michael's ministry is dedicated to renewal within the Church and works to equip Christians with an intelligent and thoroughly Christian approach to matters of culture in order to demonstrate the relevance of Christianity to all of life. For more information on the Center for Christ & Culture, the teaching ministry of S. Michael Craven, visit: www.battlefortruth.org
Michael lives in the Dallas area with his wife Carol and their three children.