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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Connecticut Muslims reach out - what are Christians doing?

Saw this interesting article in the Norwich Bulletin about Muslims reaching out to their neighbors in Eastern Connecticut in an open house and interfaith service. As is typical for stories of this kind, the lead-in quote effectively lets you know what you're in for.

Carole Shores, a retired Bacon Academy teacher, said she realized just how much she didn't know about the rest of the world after the Sept. 11 attacks occurred in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

"I think it's very important we all learn about each other's religions and learn to respect each other," said the 59-year-old New London resident, who used to live in Norwich. "People fear what they don't understand."

While I'm willing to be proven wrong, I have to assume that Ms. Shores is speaking of the wrongheadedness of fearing Islam. I'm not sure what Ms. Shores taught at Bacon Academy, but it's odd that 9/11 made her feel ignorant about the world. I didn't think one had to be a certified news junkie to know that Islamic terrorists had already tried in 1993 to pull off a 9/11 at the World Trade Center before actually doing it to their satisfaction.

People never apply their hackneyed phrases about learning about other religions and respecting each other to members of those other religions. I can understand this, of course: it requires less physical courage to mock Bible-reading Americans than it does to engage sword-carrying Islamic death squads in a dialogue about respecting others' religions! When our culture actually taught history and critical thinking to its young, and when the culture was informed by a Christian consensus, it wasn't possible for adult human beings to utter such fluff and be taken seriously.

Perhaps, then, people don't understand the Gospel of Christ, and that's why they fear it? This line of reasoning could have been pointed out to the local imam in Groton, who offered his opinion on the case of Abdul Rahman, the man who was going to be executed for converting from Islam to Christ.

During a question-and-answer session after lectures and a prayer, audience members asked panelists questions about topics as simple as the reason for Muslim caps and veils to more politically-oriented ones concerning Islam's stance on those who convert to other religions. That question referred to an Afghan, Abdul Rahman, who may face the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity.

Mahmoud Mansour, the mosque's imam, its religious leader, said television coverage of the case did not explain why Rahman might have faced the death penalty, explaining Rahman made negative comments about Islam, which is considered sacrilegious.

Oh, well there you go. He was asking for it!

And notice how the question about Rahman is described as more politically-oriented. What alert Christians should realize take away from this is that people will never gain an understanding of Islam or the Gospel from reading America's newspapers.

In any case, what are Christians who still believe in the truth of the Gospel doing to reach out to their neighbors, as Muslims want to reach out to theirs?

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