Bismillahi Al-Rahmani Al-Rahim
Who Spreads Religion Through
Oil companies get the oil fields. Defense contractors gets major
orders. Israelis gets their neighbors neutered and a smokescreen for
their genocide. And now the religious Right gets their classic "money
and aid for conversion" blackmail. Check it out the Guardian's
article on line [http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,929399,00.html]
Bringing aid and the Bible, the man who called Islam
Evangelists Fears that US Christians will inflame
Matthew Engel in Washington
- It could only happen with an American
invasion. Poised behind the troops, waiting for a signal
that Iraq is safe enough for them to operate in, are the
evangelical Christians - carrying food in one hand and the
Bible in the other. All the groups, generously funded by
American churchgoers, are likely to do a magnificent job in
offering water, food, medical help and comfort to a
traumatised population. But they are causing alarm among
Muslims, who fear vulnerable Iraqis will be cajoled into
conversion, and Christians, some of whom warn that the
missionaries will be prime targets in an unpacified
- Muslim worries have been heightened
because the man leading the charge into Iraq is the Rev
Franklin Graham, who delivered the invocation at President
Bush's inauguration, the son of Billy Graham and a fierce
critic of Islam. He is on record as calling it a "wicked,
violent" religion, with a God different from that of
Christianity. "The two are different as lightness and
darkness," he wrote.
- He runs an organisation called Samaritan's
Purse, whose workers are in Jordan, waiting to move into
Iraq. It has a strong record of charitable help built up
over more than 30 years, but its official aim is clear:
"The organisation serves the church worldwide to promote
the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ."
- Of late, Mr Graham has avoided
inflammatory statements and declined to speak to the
Guardian. He did, however, write an article for the Los
Angeles Times yesterday designed to mollify his critics,
insisting that Samaritan's Purse will offer help to Iraqis
without religious strings attached. "Sometimes the best
preaching we can do is simply being there with a cup of
cold water, exhibiting Christ's spirit of serving others,"
- Ibrahim Hooper, of the Washington-based
Council on American-Islamic Relations was unimpressed,
saying the groups involved were "despicable and deceitful".
Of Mr Graham, he said: "This guy has repeatedly stated that
Islam is intentionally cruel. I fail to see how such a
person can be a positive influence in a Muslim country.
Humanitarian relief is just a cover. Their basic motivation
is conversion. These groups train workers to go in under
the guise of relief to convert people away from their
- "I know this because I've been on their
training courses. There's a technique known as
contextualisation. You never say directly you're Christian.
You take chairs out of the church to make it look like a
mosque. You grow a beard. You dress your wife in Islamic
attire. They know they're not welcome."
- Also moving into Iraq are the Southern
Baptists, the second largest religious group in the US
after the Catholics and the most powerful component of the
Christian conservative movement. They are perhaps the
strongest pro-Bush, pro-Iraq war and pro-Israel political
force in the US.
- Their coordinator in Oklahoma, Sam Porter,
insists that humanitarian aid is the prime objective of the
Iraqi relief operation; the church has 25,000 trained
volunteers who help in disaster relief in the US and
- But he added: "If someone says 'Why would
you to come to Iraq to serve in an impoverished,
war-stricken country?' we would say it was because of the
love that the Lord Jesus Christ put in our hearts. If a
country opens up for evangelical missions to go there, we
go. We believe strongly that Jesus Christ is the son of God
and we intend to proclaim that."
- Some Christian commentators are alarmed
that missionaries blundering into an unstable country of
which they know little would be in danger. Three Baptist
missionaries were shot and killed in Yemen last December by
a Muslim extremist, who said he did it because "they were
preaching Christianity in a Muslim country".
- One evangelical writer, Richard Mouw, of
beliefnet.org, warned the groups: "We must do this with a
genuine desire to serve human needs. If this is viewed as a
pretence for evangelism it will only hurt the Christian
cause, and perhaps further endanger the lives of the
600,000 Christians in Iraq."
- Jonathan Bonk, editor of the International
Bulletin of Missionary Research, says that many strong
evangelicals cannot separate their charitable work from
spreading their faith. "It's not a crafty attempt to
proselytise. It's an earnest attempt to share what they
hold most dear. That's true of all the proselytising
religions, including Islam.
- "The difficulty in Iraq won't be because
the evangelists are Christian, but because they're western.
If they aggressively evangelise, that's a problem. But
they're going to be in danger whether they say anything or
not. As symbols of the west, and what the west represents,
they are targets."
It makes you wonder what's going to be left over for the failing
Wa al-salamu `alaykum,
PS: And using the word "crusade" was just a slip of the