Another Chaper in Series on Religious Freedom
The remembrances this week, this weekend, of the persecutions of Sept. 11, 2001, bring troubling thoughts to our minds, and not just lingering memories of the tragedies experienced by those, who died, those who were injured or sickened, and their loved ones, not just an overwhelming gasp, still in our throats, at the suddenness, the shock and horror of it all. Moreso, the troubling thoughts we have concern the question of the impossibility of co-existence of the religion of Islam and religious freedom for Christians.
This week we have heard of the church in Florida planning to burn the Koran and a number of people have asked me as a Christian, what I think about it. Short and sweet, so to speak, such an approach, in our view, does not promote honest soul-searching by Christians world-wide, not just by American Christians, but also does not promote an honest debate about this issue of the world’s co-existence of Islam with Christians.
From time to time, we have spoken on the issue of religious freedom. Why so, when that issue is not directly from Scripture? It is so because, at least here in America, we are privileged to worship and practice our religion, nourish our faith, evangelize to spread our faith among others, because we have religious freedom. It is so basic to our American lives that we take it for granted, and most Americans never really examine what it means and how it operates to protect us, how it provides an umbrella of legitimacy in which our religious freedom, and that of believers of other denominations, other sects, other faiths, can co-exist. The tragedy of 911, as we endure its remembrances in recent days, has served notice upon us all that Islam does not intend for Christians to continue to be able to worship, nourish our faith, and evangelize. The debate over the Manhattan mosque proposal dramatizes, so that we can clearly now see the issue, that Islam will use our principles of religious freedom to wedge its way into post-911 presence and power in America while plotting death to the Americans who are infidel, as the Koran teaches, because of their non-Muslim faiths (whether they be Christian, Catholic, Buddhist, etc.) and death to those Americans who are infidel, as the Koran teaches, because of their lives of unbelief and sin. The Manhattan mosques proposal represents a political test, a constitutional test, in the on-going power struggle between American and Islam, in which the issue is this: “can Islam be permitted to use our rules of live, our principles of religious freedom against us?” Islam is a tool of that serpent, the Devil or Satan, which he is using to deceive the whole world. America is being deceived by Satan, through the artifice and manipulation of our principles of religious freedom. So we have to talk about this deception in the pulpit, because our freedom to be Christians is at stake here, and most of the country does not get the point, and like the church in Florida, if they do get the point, they often do not articulate it clearly or convincingly.
Now, let’s take a look back through history, very generally, for we have gone through some of this before. America was founded by a diverse group of people and through immigration, that diversity has been enlarged. I don’t think there is any mention in the founding documents of, for example, Buddhism. But our national diversity has brought us large numbers of Buddhists. As Christians, we do not believe in the Buddhist faith, but Buddhism does not posit death to us unless we convert to Buddhism, like Islam does.
When we saw the assault of 911, and now see the “make- nice” ploy of the Manhattan mosque proposal, we understand that the debate over religious freedom in America has become forever changed in the last decade, but that the principles of religious freedom necessary to sustain those principles as principles of freedom have never changed, but they have not been articulated clearly and convincingly to the very confused body of Christian worshippers in America and, indeed, around the world.
Here, again, as I have mentioned this before, is the general principle: religious freedom is not unlimited, just as a matter of simple logic: all religious freedom ceases to exist when one (or even more) religions refuse to admit that another faith can be legitimately practiced without the reprehensible repercussions of harassment, persecution and death. If the price of religious freedom is death, then it is not freedom or free!
Now, a couple of examples to demonstrate the point. Let’s say that a cannibalistic tribe or faith establishes itself in America, and among its beliefs is that periodically they must kill and eat someone who is not a member of their tribe or faith. So, as a result, every American, even every illegal immigrant, is at risk of death to feed the religion of the cannibals. Or, what if a group’s beliefs required it to sacrifice, as to Molech of old, infants or a child up to some age, by throwing it into a burning altar.
We would all be aghast at such attempts to exercise religious freedom: we would call it murder and cry out for the authorities to stop it! We wouldn’t stop for a moment and say to ourselves that, because of religious freedom we must put all of us at risk of death so the cannibals and the child-sacrificers can have their religious freedom. And we would say no less if the sacrificed ones came from among their own numbers. We would all still see such beliefs as espousing murder, and such practices as committing murder. The only difference between these sacrifical practices and beliefs and those of Islam is that the Koran does not teach the followers of Allah to eat their victims! Small difference, in fact!
Change always brings challenge. We experienced it in our family again, yesterday, in such a humble way, as we enrolled Lamar, our youngest, in school, away from home, at The Evangelical Institute of Greenville. In that enrollment, that starting of a new phase of his life, there is challenge for him, and there is in that change, challenge for us as his parents, and for his sister, Liza, as well. Change is not necessarily bad, and the challenge of it is usually good for us, as we have the opportunity to be strengthened by the change and the way we react to it.
But our reaction to change requires us to process the change, to figure out how to react to it, and whenever we have major change in our lives, we usually have major challenges, and the ways in which we look at things involved with that change, our perspective, if you will, also changes.
And so, post-911, the perspective for the church of Christians in America has been challenged and we are reminded of it by the proposed Manhattan mosque, and the Christian church in America needs to find its voice, and to become educated, thoughtful, and united, in a clear and convincing message to the rest of the country, to the world, and especially to Islam. That message should be that at the core of religious freedom is toleration of the differences of mankind in their religions, their world views, their choices of belief in regards to creation, life, death, and after-life, but that toleration is limited. The limitation is thus: that neither constitutional principle, nor logic, can permit a form of toleration of Islam that is tolerant unto our deaths if we don’t believe with the Islamists. That is what the church of Christians in America, indeed across the globe, is struggling to articulate.
I do not advocate burning copies of the Koran in some public demonstration of disgust or disagreement. But I do advocate a sharpening of the focus of debate to get to the core of religious freedom, so we can understand not only its openness and toleration, but also its inherent limits in order for any freedom at all to survive. The church of Christians can enunciate this sharpened focus of debate, but as freedom is alas, controlled by the government and the courts, it is necessary for the church of Christians to deliver this message to our government officials who are the guardians and protectors of this religious freedom, and in appropriate cases – such as the zoning process for the proposed Manhattan mosque – to the courts, the ultimate interpreters and enforcers of religious freedom in America.
Already the Islamic camel has its nose under the tent of America, and that only in the name of religious freedom. On the premise of religious freedom, the Islamists have already established a nose-hold, nay – a stronghold in America as in Europe. And in Europe, and a couple of small places in America, that stronghold premised on religious freedom has moved through the ballot box to establish political power, which undoubtedly will be used to legitimate Shira law in America, if the Islamists get their way! The time to kill the snake is best before it bites you!
If we are to survive to worship our Lord Jesus Christ, as Savior and Lord of our lives, if we are to be free to possess, and to share, and to believe the Word of God in Holy Scripture, if we are to be free to prosleytize and evangelize as we are commanded in Matthew 28, then the camel’s nose must be removed from our American tent, and the whole camel must be removed from America. The snake of Islam is under our feet and seeks our death. The call on the church of Christians is to find its voice and articulate and defend the principles of the Dissenters who brought that principle to our shores in the formation of this country, and established it in the First Amendment to our Constitution, and to articulate it so loudly and so precisely, without sensationalism or hate-mongering as with the church in Florida seeking to burn the Koran. We have, as the church of Christians, the largest burden and responsibility in this, as we have the most at stake. What we have at stake is our duty, and our ability to fulfill that duty, under Matthew 28, to share the gospel of Christ with our fellow man. As we so carefully studied last year in this body, in the series on God, Man and Society, we have a stewardship responsibility in the type of government and the content of government laws that we permit to govern us. It is that stewardship responsibility, not just for this generation, but for generations to come, that requires us to step out, spread the word like Paul Revere — for Islam is not just coming, it is here! – and develop a unified voice, a clear and convincing message, that brings order out of the confused and disshelved voices of the church and the government officials and, often, the courts. We will lose battles along the way, but it is time for this issue, in the interest of the church’s survival to carry the message of the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The snake of Islam seeks to kill the church of Christians, for we are the message that Islam is not the religion of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we are the message that Jesus Christ is who He says He is, yesterday, today and forever; we are the message that Christianity is the true religion of Jehovah God, not its perversion by Mohammed into Islam! We are Royal Ambassadors for Christ, we are Christian Soldiers and it is time for us to man up, to deliver the hard messages to our friends and neighbors, and to our government officials, and to our courts, and, indeed, to Islam: Islam is not legal in America because it is a religion of such extreme intolerance that we as a nation cannot tolerate it.
Now, having said all of this, let me encourage you to include all Muslims in your regular prayers, that God would continually bless them, that He would regularly and unceasingly send His Holy Spirit to guide them in the Way of all Truth, which is Jesus Christ, and that He would convict them of sin, righteousness and judgment, and confront them with the Holy One of Israel, for their good, and their blessing in conversion to belief in Jesus Christ.
And, also, let me encourage you to pray for those under Islamic rule who have converted to Christianity, who have been, and are, so profoundly harassed, persecuted, and according to the news, so routinely killed because of their conversions to Christ. Lift them up to the throne of God, pray strongly for the intercession of Jesus at the right hand of God the Father, to have mercy on those brave souls who have chosen to set aside their families, their cultures, and their fears of death to embrace the freedom of life in Christ, true eternal life.
And also, pray for our church members – here locally, and all across this land – that a great awakening, in Christ and about American religious freedom, would come from the grass roots of the church, and pray that our Christian church leaders – and, as God used Pharoah at the time of the Exodus – the leaders of other non-violent religions – would acquire this same great awakening, and lead the unification of this voice, and that the church of Christians would take a stand that would communicate this clear and convincing message of religious freedom to our governing authorities, to our judges, and to Islamists everywhere.
And pray for our governing authorities, and our judges, that they would join, with true lovers of religious freedom, in the unity of this message, and change the way they govern and judge America and religious freedom herein! It is time for the church of Christians to overcome the deceptive voice of the Snake of Islam, but shouting the truth in the pulpit, in our homes, in our schools and workplaces, in the halls of governmental power and in the courts of justice in America!
Holy Father, may it be so, by the Authority of the Name of Jesus and by the Power of His Blood!
Concluding Prayer: for this Message of Unity in Religious Freedom, for blessings on unverted Muslims, for blessings and protections on Muslims converted to Christ, for receptivity to this message, and the requisite courage and strength to stand, for our governing American authorities and judges. Amen.