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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

It's not only the baby seal clubbers (or, would the head of the NCC marry Miss World if she were a fundamentalist?) 


I have previously talked about politically conservative Christians who are unwilling to acknowledge that politically liberal Christians exist. Well, Preachrblog points out that the same thing happens on the other side. First, let's quote from an article that he referenced (as he ironically notes, this article is from Fox News):


Bob Edgar, the general secretary of the National Council of Churches, asked Baptists to walk together “in the footsteps of Jesus” and address the challenges of “fear, fundamentalism, and FOX News.”


Preachrboy responds:


Gee, I thought our struggle was against "Sin, Death, and the power of the Devil"


Meanwhile, the National Council of Churches and Fox News were in a .Net war. After Fox highlighted Edgar's comments, NCC returned in kind:


Predictably, many of the responses from the network's predominantly conservative fans disagreed with the NCC leader's assessment of Jesus' call to action.

But a surprising number said Edgar's list of priorities might be just what the nation needed. Of the 279 emails received by NCC from 'speakout@foxnews.com' 48 supported Edgar or were critical of Fox News....

"Edgar speaks for more Christians than Faldwell (sic) and company, Fallwell and other right-wing fundamentalists are no more real Christians than an Islamic fundamentalists is a real Muslim."--Tom, Sarasota, Fla.



Now I would not presume to claim that Jerry Falwell isn't a Christian. Does NCC make that claim? Well, they certainly don't like his views:


October 7, 2002, NEW YORK CITY - The Executive Board of the (U.S.) National Council of Churches this afternoon (Oct. 7) voted unanimously to "condemn and repudiate" the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s statements yesterday on CBS-TV’s "60 Minutes" about Islam and the Prophet Muhammed, Islam’s founder, saying Falwell’s statements endangered the lives of Christians around the world....

Falwell’s "hateful and destructive" statements - among others, that "Muhammed was a terrorist" - "are NOT those of the majority of Christians in this country nor in the rest of the world," said the governing body of the NCC, whose 36 member denominations comprise 50 million adherents. "His statements about Islam and the Prophet Muhammed are not only factually untrue and offensive, but are dangerous to the national security of every nation where Christians and Muslims are seeking a peaceful relationship."

The board further characterized Falwell’s words as "not Christian and shockingly uninformed." Falwell’s comments "create ideal conditions for breeding terrorism among those who may not understand that he does not represent the majority of Christians or Americans," the Executive Board said.

"(H)is inflammatory words put at increased risk the lives of thousands of Christian missionaries and humanitarian aid workers, as well as their Christian partners abroad who are engaged in heroic efforts to be peacemakers and bridge-builders in difficult and dangerous circumstances."



As a big organization, they had a real live resolution to this effect:


THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES

Resolution Refuting and Condemning the Statements Concerning Islam and the Prophet Muhammed Made by Rev. Jerry Falwell on "60 Minutes" Sunday, October 06, 2002

Adopted Unanimously by the National Council of Churches Executive Board

Meeting October 7, 2002, in New York City

WHEREAS Jerry Falwell stated in a "60 Minutes" (CBS) interview, October 6, 2002 " I think Muhammed was a terrorist. I read enough…by both Muslims and non-Muslims, [to decide] that he was a violent man, a man of war"; and,

WHEREAS Jerry Falwell implied in his comments that he and his constituency control President Bush’s policies towards Israel and Palestine; and

WHEREAS his views are not those of the majority of Christians in this country nor in the rest of the world; and,

WHEREAS his statements about Islam and the Prophet Muhammed are not only factually untrue and offensive, but are dangerous to the national security of every nation where Christians and Muslims are seeking a peaceful relationship; and,

WHEREAS his remarks create ideal conditions for breeding terrorism among those who may not understand that he does not represent the majority of Christians or Americans; and,

WHEREAS his inflammatory words put at increased risk the lives of thousands of Christian missionaries and humanitarian aid workers, as well as their Christian partners abroad who are engaged in heroic efforts to be peacemakers and bridge-builders in difficult and dangerous circumstances; and,

WHEREAS we believe Jerry Falwell’s words to be not Christian and shockingly uninformed.

WE, the Executive Board of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, representing 36 churches and over 50 million U. S. Christians, affirm to our brothers and sisters in Islam that we condemn and repudiate Jerry Falwell’s hateful and destructive statements delivered on CBS’s "60 Minutes", October 6, 2002, and we call upon President George W. Bush to repudiate and condemn Falwell’s remarks.



The Religious Freedom Coalition notes what happened next:


The major media loves to hate Dr. Jerry Falwell. Shortly after the Islamic Jihad attack of 9-11 both Dr. Jerry Falwell and Dr. Pat Robertson said that the attacks on the United States were caused by the moral slide of the nation. The media attacks against Falwell were so great that he said little about it for a year....

Now Dr. Jerry Falwell has spoken out about the true nature of Islam. On October 6th on CBS Sixty Minutes, Dr. Falwell finally said that Mohammed was indeed a "man of war" and a "terrorist." Falwell made the comments when pushed into comparing the acts of Mohammed with those of modern terrorists. If a terrorist is one who kills innocent civilians, then indeed Mohammed was a terrorist.

I was not surprised by the media attacks following Dr. Falwell’s comments on 60 Minutes; however, the rather bizarre attack by the National Council of Churches (NCC) was surprising. The NCC claims to represent 50,000,000 Americans in thirty-six denominations. This is of course a lie. In reality the NCC has shrunk to become a small far left-wing political organization that is forced to borrow money on future dues to survive. Its politics are out of sync with most of the Christians it claims to represent.

Still the attack on Falwell by the NCC was not only vicious but strange. The resolution of their board released on October 15th said that Falwell’s words were, "not Christian and shockingly uninformed" and his words would "...create ideal conditions for breeding terrorism...."

Let me sum it up. The NCC said that Islam is a religion of peace but that if you say bad things about it, Islam’s adherents will kill Christians. Indeed the NCC said, that Falwell’s "... inflammatory words put at increased risk the lives of thousands of Christian missionaries."...

At one point in the story they actually blame Falwell for an attack on a Christian hospital in Pakistan by Islamic forces.

If your church or denomination is affiliated with the National Council of Churches, this is what part of your tithe is financing. You may want to talk to your pastor about the continued support of the NCC by your church....

Did the National Council of Churches’ harsh condemnation of Dr. Falwell cause a death decree to be issued against him by Iranian clerics? Death warrants have now been issued by Iranian Islamic leaders against Dr. Falwell, Pat Robertson and Franklin Graham. The "Fatwa " has apparently been issued by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as relayed by his spokesman Hohsen Mojtahed Shabestari who said, "The death of these men is a religious duty."

The National Council of Churches leadership can see no difference between Christianity and Islam. Indeed the NCC spends most of its time and resources condemning fellow Christians. The NCC has made no comment against the recent terrorist acts by Muslims in Bali, in Russia or even the sniper shootings in the United States. Apparently the NCC leadership believes that the censorship of Jerry Falwell is far more important than the lives of Christians in a Moscow theater.



More on the fatwa:


Iranian cleric Mohsen Mojtahed Shabestari issued a fatwa last Friday, saying that Falwell was a "mercenary and must be killed." Shabestari, a representative of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said, "The death of that man is a religious duty, but his case should not be tied to the Christian community."

Shabestari reportedly did not use names, but according to AFP, he referred to three "Israeli mercenaries" who needed to be "separated from other Christians." Officials in Iran had previously singled out Jerry Falwell, Pat Roberston, and Franklin Graham for their statements on Islam.

The most publicized instance of an Iranian fatwa was 1989's order for the death of Indian-born author Salman Rushdie over his book The Satanic Verses.

"A fatwa is simply a legal decision," said the University of Victoria's Rippin. "It's a ruling given by a jurist as an interpretation of Islamic law. The real question is, How binding is it in terms of whether people will respect it or not?"

He told CT that the current case differs from the Rushdie fatwa because the 1989 order was issued by Iran's late supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and thus carried far more weight. Rippin said it is hard to know what the significance of the Falwell fatwa would be.



But Falwell and Rushdie are not the only ones who were the subject of fatwas:


Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa forbidding the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons on August 9, 2005. The full text of the fatwa was released in an official statement at the meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna....

The Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) has denounced calls for the death of the Danish cartoonist who satirised the Prophet Mohammed....

Spanish Muslims proclaimed a fatwa against Bin Laden in March of 2005 [3]. They said that he had abandoned his religion and they urged other Muslims to make similar proclamations. They were followed in July of 2005 by the Fiqh Council of North America, a ruling council that issued a fatwa against providing support to terrorist groups....

Fundamentalists in Bangladesh proclaimed a...fatwa against Taslima Nasreen in 1993, against a series of newspaper columns in which she was critical of the treatment of women under Islam. The next year she wrote Lajja (Shame) which described the abuse of women and minorities. Again there were calls for her death, and her passport was confiscated. Within the legal system, she felt that she may have faced a jail term of up to two years, but it is very likely that she would have been murdered within the jail. She managed to escape the country via Calcutta, was granted asylum in Sweden, and currently lives in Paris....

Mamuda Aliyu Shinkafi, the deputy governor of Zamfara state in Nigeria, issued a fatwa in November 2002 calling for the death of journalist Isioma Daniel for comments suggesting that Muhammad may have chosen a wife from one of the Miss World contest. Other Muslim authorities have questioned the validity of the fatwa...



From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

Comments:
Falwell is right about Mohammed, but that certainly doesn't give him the right to condemn all Muslims. I can't stand the man and I wish he would just shut up. He has done far more damage to the Christian faith than any Muslim could ever do. That said, I think the NCC is off its rocker. Calling on President Bush to condemn statements made by a religious lunatic? Come on! If we would all just pretend that Falwell doesn't exist, maybe he'll go away.
 
Falwell isn't one of my favorites, and Pat Robertson's bench press story was laughable, and Paul Crouch isn't on my number one list, and I'm not necessarily happy with their attitudes about political liberals who are Christian, but at the same time the National Council of Churches' action in fighting fundamentalism seems to betray the evangelical and inclusionary philosophy that they supposedly espouse. (At least the ACLU, by defending the rights of Nazis, displays some consistency.)
 
Yep. You can't be intolerant of intolerance or that makes you, well, intolerant.
 
The counter argument is that certain movements (take your pick) are so threatening to a free society that they themselves have to be banned. This thought survives today with Germany's restrictions on Nazi activity, and I think that the U.S. still restricts the activities of Communists.
 
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