TCS Daily

Reflections on Euro-Islam

By Stephen Schwartz - July 10, 2006 12:00 AM

Having lived in the nation's capital since the months approaching September 2001, and as founder of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, I have long been frustrated by the poor quality of Washington's discourse on Islam and terrorism. Aside from an occasional White House or Pentagon briefing or rare newspaper, magazine, or blog article, most of what has been expressed in the nation's capital about these topics is predictable, dull, and even demeaning. Think-tank affairs are usually the worst, limited to authors flogging shallow books or theories, with the occasional propaganda party thrown in.

Late last month, Washington had the opportunity to see some authoritative faces and hear some new thoughts on these issues. The weather was sweltering and air conditioning was welcome; but the topic of the day was "Euro-Islam: The Dynamics of Effective Integration," and fresh air was appropriate. A seminar with 15 heavy hitters took place at the Woodrow Wilson Center, cosponsored by the Wilson Center's Southeast Europe Project and three related in-house programs, along with the European Institute and the Center for Islamic Pluralism. It was CIP's first public event.

The agenda began with welcoming remarks from John Sitilides, chairman of the Wilson Center Southeast Europe Project and an experienced hand in Greek-Turkish relations. It continued with a major address by the Ambassador of Slovenia to the U.S., Samuel Zbogar. Why Slovenia? Because the small and stable ex-Yugoslav republic has a useful history as a country on the borderland with Balkan Islam, and Slovenia will assume the presidency of the European Union in 2008. Its political leaders have indicated, as ambassador Zbogar pointed out, that the Slovenes will take the initiative in promoting a sensible dialogue on the future of Islam in Europe. In addition, the conference was intended to show that Islam in Europe includes the indigenous Muslims of the Balkans as well as the immigrant Islam visible in Britain, France, and Germany. (Turkey was mainly left for a later date.)

Ambassador Zbogar was followed by the first panel, on public policy stakes involving Euro-Islam. First up was Professor Jocelyne Cesari, who teaches at Harvard University. She stressed the sociological aspects of the "Muslim problem" in Western Europe: marginalization, prejudice, unemployment. Not much was new, although she was well-informed and articulate.

Prof. Cesari was followed by James Lyon - a.k.a. "the Lion of Belgrade" - who serves as special Balkan adviser to the International Crisis Group (ICG). Lyon is the best mission director ICG, the well-known international analysis service, possesses. He is a tough American who speaks perfect Serbian as well as the related Slav languages in ex-Yugoslavia. He has defied the gangsters in power in Serbia on numerous occasions. He pulled no punches in describing the infiltration into the Sandzhak, a border region between Serbia and newly-independent Montenegro, by Saudi-financed Wahhabi agitators, seeking to radicalize the local Muslims, who are split between those of Bosnian and those of Albanian heritage. Lyon outlined the difficulties facing the Sandzhak Muslims, who are poor and ignored by the world, in turning back the Wahhabi aggressors. But he also left no doubt that Muslims in the Sandzhak do not want to live under a Taliban regime and will confront the Wahhabis to the utmost.

Lyon was followed by one of the real stars of the conference, Irfan Ahmed al-Alawi, the world's outstanding expert on cultural vandalism within Saudi Arabia -- an ongoing scandal to the world's Muslims. Al-Alawi, who lives in England, used his conference time for a devastating criticism of British government naïveté in dealing with radical Islam within its borders. Al-Alawi exposed the domination of British Muslim life by extremists imported from Pakistan, an issue politically-correct British officials and media simply will not touch. Al-Alawi named names, included that of the obnoxious poseur Joe Hanson, a.k.a. Hamza Yusuf, a Muslim ultraradical until 9/11, who now poses as a peace-oriented Sufi. Hanson is an inveterate puffer; he claims to have advised President George W. Bush on the strength of a single vague comment at a meeting of (questionable) Muslim representatives with the U.S. chief executive. An American citizen, Hanson has been hired by the willfully-blind British government to join a so-called "Radical Middle Roadshow" intended, absurdly, to get "presentable" Muslim radicals to calm "extreme" Muslim radicals on British soil. As if there were a difference, and as if the demagogy of Joe Hanson would be appropriate for such controversies.

In the second panel, on ideological and theological issues in Europe, Professor Jytte Klausen of Brandeis University reviewed the territory mapped out by her academic predecessor, Prof. Cesari, discussing the strains on Muslim and non-Muslim populations in Western Europe. By contrast, Ambassador Marc Ginsberg, one of the most popular and dynamic personalities in the capital, and the first American Jewish ambassador to an Arab country (Morocco), followed her presentation with verbal hammer blows, describing how the jihad terrorists have mastered the internet as a tool for indoctrination and mobilization. You think marginalization and unemployment are major forces in driving Muslims in Western Europe into the arms of Al-Qaida? Try checking out the Wahhabi web. The enemy's soldiers and hardware are inferior to those of the West in battle, but their webmasters have ours beat by a far distance. Jihadist websites are alluring, entertaining, inspiring, and effective. To vulnerable young Muslim minds in Britain or France, they far exceed Al-Jazeerah terror videos as a recruiting tool.

The situation in the Balkans was again taken up by the next speaker, Imam Mirza Mesic of the Zagreb mosque in Croatia, one of the most distinguished Muslim institutions in Europe. Imam Mesic discussed the role of his Islamic Community as a minority among the overwhelmingly Catholic Croats, and read out the recent Declaration on Islam in Europe by the chief Muslim cleric of Bosnia-Hercegovina, Mustafa Ceric (online here, thanks to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty). Imam Mesic was also a star of the conference, for his modesty and obvious sincerity. His English was imperfect but the audience understood every word.

Lunch featured an address by U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Scott Carpenter, who presented a stirring evocation of the Bush administration's vision for democracy and Islam. But he was also challenged by panelists, who demanded to know when the Bush administration will take a harder line on Wahhabism and its Saudi backers.

The third and last panel of the day, on Islam's future in Europe, began with Daniel Pipes, the prescient but often controversial expert on global Islamic extremism. In an understated but effective tone, Pipes discussed the alternative: Islamization of Europe through demographic pressure and European Christian weakness, or Europeanization of Islam through cultural influence. Pipes finds both possibilities worthy of discussion, but offered no definitive judgment either way.

Pipes was followed by another academic, Professor Sara Silvestri of Cambridge University, who again had recourse to a sociological approach. The last word, I am proud to say, was delivered by Professor Kemal Silay of Indiana University, the outstanding figure in Ottoman and Turkish studies in the West, and President of CIP. Silay closed the discussion on a militant note: Islamic estremists call, among Turks in Germany as well as in Turkey itself, for reversal of the secular history of the Turkish Republic and abolition of the pluralistic nature of Ottoman Islam; that they may introduce a reign of jihad, based on the glorification of martyrdom and bloodshed. Against them there can be no compromise.

All the panels included lively question-and-answer sessions. Audience members -- including a number of Muslim students from universities in the D.C. area -- almost uniformly congratulated the sponsors of the conference for providing straight, factual answers to hard questions, and for making the entire event innovative and vital where Washington is weakest: in content. Conference organizers promise more to come, and soon. A corner may have been turned in Washington, a town usually known for often suffocating repetition of clichés, even on such matters of life, death, and survival.

Stephen Schwartz is a TCS Daily contributing writer and co-founder for the Center of Islamic Pluralism.



Hard to get past clash of civilizations
Here are my four problems in looking at "managing" Islamic integration with Western civilization...

(1) A little bit of comparative religion. Robert Maplethorpe comes on the scene with "P*ss Christ" and Christians who care about it get all bent out of shape. Joe Holocaust-denier comes on the scene every few years and the Jews who care demand sensitivity training. Theo van Gogh directs a film, or Salman Rushdie writes a book, or some Danes with particularly dry/Danish senses of humor draw some cartoons, and there's an international fatwa. Maybe somebody like van Gogh actually dies. Whether or not it's an extreme, it has a wide following and it's unacceptable. Your religion will be mocked and criticized primarily because it's religion. Deal with it without killing people.

(2) Subjugation of women. The modest dress and lack of women in leadership positions is a non-starter with the Western world. India and China have figured this key point out and made great strides in less than a generation. The Islamic world, inside and outside Western countries, doesn't seem willing. Women aren't slaves.

(3) Freedom to come and go. Jefferson wrote more than 200 years ago about the right of every human being (well, white male at the time, but we can extrapolate) to choose his own religion when he becomes an adult -- that a religion has no claim on any person or his offspring. In the West, we have and often exercise the freedom to mix things up. That's how we integrate immigrants into a wider culture. Death penalty for someone who converts to Christianity? I shudder to think what would happen to someone who goes atheist.

(4) Ownership of self... We drink, smoke, use drugs, have sex, tattoo and pierce our bodies, etc. because those activities feel good. We enjoy sexual themes throughout our culture. All such behavior is predicated on the belief that consenting adults own themselves. Of course, we have concern for kids and rightfully want to keep them from being exploited or making decisions for which they can't deal with consequences. And of course, we all shudder at the idea of seeing Star Jones naked. But we balance these concerns and maximize individual freedom.

We're better off writing these kinds of things down and making Islam come to the table rather than trying to be sensitive. It's not like we're going to negotiate any of them away anyway, so why pretend?

Religion as Tyranny
Many committed religious believers advocate their beliefs. This of course should be their right and it is of benefit to others via the communication of potentially useful information. Throughout history, many have attempted to force a religious choice on others. Some Islamic extremists advocate conversion by any means, including force. Islam can be integrated into European, American and for that manner any culture…as long as the preeminence of individual choice is respected. But “Religious Conversion” at spear point is not religion…it is tyranny…and must be opposed.

The Root Cause
The successful spread of Saudi Arabia’s brand of Islam is due to two reasons: the Koran and Hadith. Yes, Saudi money helps to lubricate the process (as Schwatz notes) but with the modern technology of the internet (again as Schwatz notes) the cost of spreading the word is low. The internet is to the Islamic Revival what the printing press was to Protestantism.

The problem is Islam. Moderates have few weapons with which to counter the authority of Muhammad. There is no moderate Islam:

How about taxes?
"But “Religious Conversion” at spear point is not religion…it is tyranny…and must be opposed."

A government too big for its Constitution, requiring funds for non-Constitutional functions is not tyranny?

And I agree, faith cannot be forced.

Jason, you also forgot the MOST obvious....
forceful conversions throught military subjugation. Look what is happening today in Somailia and Sudan where natives and Christians are butchered for refusing the gift of islam. Islam does not need to be accommodated, it needs to be outlawed and removed from all western nations. Later today I will reprint an article from a Sunday paper that everyone needs to read.

Tyranny and Hope
"A government too big for its Constitution, requiring funds for non-Constitutional functions is not tyranny?"

The US Federal Government has departed from Constitutional principles and inched unevenly and increasingly towards tyranny since the moment the document was signed. But we have not gone over the edge yet, and there is reason to hope that the will of the people will restore the Constitutionally enumerated role of government.

Old English
" Ða wæs on burgum Beowulf Scyldinga,
leof leodcyning, longe þrage
folcum gefræge (fæder ellor hwearf,
aldor of earde), oþþæt him eft onwoc
heah Healfdene; heold þenden lifde,
gamol ond guðreouw, glæde Scyldingas.
ðæm feower bearn forð gerimed
in worold wocun, weoroda ræswan,
Heorogar ond Hroðgar ond Halga til;
hyrde ic þæt wæs Onelan cwen,
Heaðoscilfingas healsgebedda.
þa wæs Hroðgare heresped gyfen, "

That was the English language around 1000 AD.

Can you read it?

The Koran was written 300 years earlier, in Arabic.

Do you think the Arabs of today speak and write the same way they did 1400 years ago?

I think there is some room for interpreting the Koran.

Islama agenda.
It is very difficult to embrace beheadings, Sunni's and shiites slaughtering each other in the streets, The Iranian president trying to encourage All Muslims to wipe out Israel, all Arab countries to attack Israel, Muslims in the Philippines beheading Christians, Indonesians not accepting Israel medical help after Tzunami. Islamic terror all around the world, From Toronto to Chile, Indonesia to africa, throughtout Europe, Russia.Huge rise of anti-semetism in France by Muslims. How does one make friends with ignorance, Spinoza in the Netherlands, 1667, "Individual rights, freedom of expression, is more sacred than any personalized belief in God", We should not give up freedom to ignorance. For Now Islam is Insane!

Old English- Old Arabic
One of the reasons they feel strongly about the Koran is because the language is the same, now, as it was then, unlike the old English that changed constantly. Most Koranic experts beleive, that today's Koran, "It has continued to be read, recited and rehearsed in the original, that is to say, in the very words of the revelation to Mohammed". They beleive the Bible went from Greek, to Latin, to English.The first King James Bible was translated,edited and supervised by Bacon and his Masons. The Bible-New Testament went through many language changes. Old Testament also translated From Hebrew, Aramac, Greek,Latin, Spanish. But the Religious Muslims-Islamics beleive they are reading the original and lost nothing over the ages. Tid-bits of History

Any Arabic expert out there?
I have been told by Arab speakers that the Arabic language today is not the same as it was 1400 years ago.

Anyone confirm that?

Old Arabic had no vowels
I had read that Arabic of that time did not contain any vowels. (Don't know about now.) This leads to one of the problems where a word might be interpreted two or more different ways depending on context. Even then there could be some ambiguity. I've no idea how frequent or significant this is.

You might want to look up "Uthmanic Rescension", too. Apparently, differing versions of the Koran were evolving. Uthman chose one version (based on what criteria I don't know) and had the others destroyed.

something to northernguy
When Christians speak of what Christ would do with society if he were here and had the choice they all realise that it is speculation on their part. Christ may have said things that are an indication of his views but He was never in a position to implement them (or not) through government.

Muhamid was in that position. He ran a large government for an extended period of time. Muslims have no doubt about many of the principles of social organisation that Muhamid thought appropriate for a Muslim to live and be governed by. Muhamid made it clear that it was not just a legal obligation but a moral and spiritual one as well. In fact Muhamid specifically stated that He, Allah and the Qoran make no such distinction. Every moral person was legally and spiritually obligated to follow his tenets of public administration and socio-economic structure. Failure to do so was a serious offense in the eyes of himself, Allah and the structure of the state, there being no difference between the three.

Any devout muslim cannot deny that when Muhamid was in charge things were much different than they are now. They know that Muhamid said that _this is how things should be and now that I am in charge that is how they will be_. Muhamid's model for a state is there for all to see.

Devout muslims believe that Muhamid's actions represent the expressed will of Allah. The expessed will of Allah on the relation of government to the governed that all Muslims are familiar with is clearly spelled out and it sure doesn't look like what they see around them anywhere.

Many of the liberal elite seem to see muslims in the same or even more benign light than they see christianity. In fact, devout muslims believe that all western governments are evil as is all of western business practices. They believe liberalism is not just wrong or stupid or shortsighted or a dangerous disregard of reality but is instead is actually evil on its own terms. Intentions are meaningless. Results mean nothing. Muhamid acting on directions from Allah banned liberalism as evil and that's all there is to it.

All muslims are expected to regularly recite and if possbile memorise as much of Muhamids own words in the original language as is possible for them to do. There is no confusion over these words. There is some confusion over which of Muhamids descendants can be regarded as being in a position to amplify those words and how much weight should be given to those additional expressions. But as for Muhamid there is no doubt. Everyone knows what he thought and what he did when he was in a position to implement his words.

And from a western perspective it sure isn't pretty!!

Christ was more succint
Love your neighbor as yourself.

So simple, yet so difficult, apparently.

Here is the article everyone NEEDS to read from Chicago Sun-Times.
By Daniel Pipes Chicago Sun-Times Friday, July 7th

"Enough now with this turning the other cheek! Its our duty to protect ourselves." Thus spoke Monsignor Velasio De Paolis, secretary of the Vaticans supreme court, referring to Muslims. Explaining his apparent rejection of Jesus' admonition to his followers to "turn the other cheek," De Paolis noted the West has had relations with the Arab countries for half a century--and has not been able to get the slightest concession on human rights."

"De Paolis is hardly alone in his thinking; indeed, the Catholic Church is undergoing a dramatic shift from a decades-old policy to protect Catholics living under Muslim rule. The old methods of quiet diplomacy and muted appeasement have clearly failed. The estimated 40 million Christians in Dar al-Islam, notes the Barnabas Funds Patrick Sookhdeo, increasingly find themselves an embattled minority facing economic decline, dwindling rights and physical jeopardy. Most of them, he goes on, are despised and distrusted second-class citizens, facing discrimination in education, jobs and the courts."

"These harsh circumstances are causing Christians to flee their ancestral homelands for the West's more hospitable environment. Consequently, Christians populations of the Muslim world are in a free-fall. Two small but evocative instances of this pattern: for the first time in nearly two millenia, Nazareth and Bethlehem no longer have Christian majorities."

This reality of oppression and decline stands in dramatic contrast to the surging Muslim minority of the West. Although numbering fewer than 20 million and made up mostly of immigrants and their offspring, it is an increasingly established and vocal minority, granted extensive rights and protections even as it wins new legal, cultural and political perogatives."

"This widening disparity has caught the attention of the Church, which for the first time is pointing to radical islam, rather than the actions of Israel, as the central problem facing Christians living with muslims."

"Rumblings of this could be heard already in John Paul II's time. For example, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican equivalent of foreign minister, noted in late 2003 that, 'There are too many majority Muslim countries where non-Muslims are second-class citizens.' Tauran pushed for reciprocity: "Just as Muslims can build their houses of prayer anywhere in the world, the faithful of other religions should be able to do so as well."

"Catholic demands for reciprocity have grown, especially since the accession of Pope Benedict XVII in April of 2005
for whom Islam is a central concern. In February, the pope emphasized the need to respect "the convictions and religious practices of others so that, in a reciprocal manner, the exercise of freely chosen religion is truly assured to all." In May, he again stressed the need for reciprocity: Christians must love immigrants and Muslims must treat well the Christians among them."

"Lower ranking clerics, as usual, are more outspoken. "Islams radicalization is the principal cause of the Christian exodus," asserts Monsignor Phillippe Brizard, director general of Oeuvre d' Orient, a French organization focused on Middle Eastern Christians. Bishop Rino Fisichella, rector of the Lateran University in Rome, advises the Church to drop its 'diplomatic silence' and instead 'put pressure on international organizations to make the societies and states in majority Muslim countries face up to their responsiblities.'

"The Danish cartoons crisis offered a typical example of Catholic disillusionment. Chruch leaders initially criticized the publication of the Muhammad cartoons. But when Muslims responded by murdering Catholic priests in Turkey and Nigeria, not to speak of scofes of Christians killed during five days of riots in Nigeria, the Church responded with warnings to Muslims. 'If we tell our people they have no right to offend, we have to tell the others they have no right to destroy us,' said Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican's secretary of state. 'We must always stress our demand for reciprocity in political contacts with authorities in Islamic countries and even more, in cultural contacts,' added Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, its foreign minister."

"Obtaining the same rights for Christians in Islamdom that Muslims enjoy in Christendom has become the key to the Vaticans diplomacy toward Muslims. This balanced, serious approach marks a profound improvement in understanding that could have implications well beyond the Church, given how many lay politicians heed its leadership in inter-faith matters. Should Western states also promote the principle of reciprocity, the results should indeed be interesting."

End of article by Daniel Pipes of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Everyone interested should go order extra copies of this article.

Christians, Love Your Enemies
Matthew 5:43-48
The New King James Version of the Bible

[Jesus Christ speaking] "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

True, but it does not mean commit national suicide or to
lay down and die. Christians of all denominations are allowed to defend themselves. Remember, suicide is a unforgivable sin. The muslims are hoping for people not to fight back so they can exterminate all opposition and have this entire planet under the black flag of islam. Christians can not spread the Gospel of Christ and His Salvation message if they are all dead. Christians have their historical lands and the muslims have their lands. Currently, they are attempting to invade and subjugate. Do not take the scriptures out of context. The Bible had MANY bloody stories of the Israelites retaking their homelands and what is going on today is nothing short of war no matter what many spinless politicians irresponsibly delcare in the media.

There something to say for that
I’ve heard that the Classical Arabic of the Koran is not the same as the spoken Arabic of today. However, the problem isn’t a question on one or two lines that need proper interpretation. The Koran is filled with warrior passages urging Muslims to fight the infidel and subjugate non-Muslims (except for Pagans and polytheists who have to be killed without question.)

The Hadith is traditionally supplemented and helps to order the Koran. This is important in that the latter Medinan passages abrogate the earlier Meccan passages. In Mecca, Mohammad was out of power and had to plead for tolerance. In Medina, he became a tyrant. Thus, this is the culmination of his religious teachings: conquer and subjugate. It’s telling that the Muslim calendar starts with his trek to Medina (not his birth.) This is when Islam starts … with power, war, and subjugation.

Oh, yes, and Mohammad ethnically cleansed Medina of Jews.
It used to be in all the older textbooks before PC sensitivity took over.

Good points, heavy & RaMaya
That's been the tradition for 14 centuries. There's a reason Islam is said to have bloody borders.

The Infallible Word Of Christ?
"The Bible had MANY bloody stories of the Israelites retaking their homelands and what is going on today is nothing short of war no matter what many spinless politicians irresponsibly delcare in the media."

Yes, that's true in the OLD TESTAMENT. But Jesus Christ revealed the Truth and gave Man a path to through acceptance of himself and his word as Lord and Savior. And if you believe in an INERRANT Bible, then Jesus's words must be taken literally.

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you..."

Did the west love its enemies during WWII by saving them from tyranical governments? (Dr. Taro Takemi said many people would have starved had the atom bomb not been dropped forcing the Japanese military to admit defeat and surrender.)

Could Christians have done more by trying to stop its ememies and convince them to not be enemies before WWII started? Wouldn't a strong stand against Hitler been an act of loving our enemy?

In the big picture, I believe the West loved its enemy by defeating tyrants and creating a peaceful place for former enemies to prosper in Germany and Japan.
And isn't that the objective in the Middle East? To help those who can't help themselves be free to worship?
The West is feeding people from DPRK even though they have been raised to hate us.

While the west and the USA is not even close to perfect, we have embraced Christian principles not only because most Americans are Christian, but because it is also the wisest long term policy for peace and prosperity for all.

Swiss Air
Even if this is a myth, it's a good story.
Saudi Arabia was offended by the cross on SwissAir planes and asked it to be removed.
The Swiss said they were offended by violence and asked Saudia to remove the crossed swords from thier planes.

How useful is it to ponder original intent?
The original intent of the author of the Quran is hard to assess, as are the intentions of the many authors of the Christian Bible, because times have changed. It's not just the languages but very our perceptions that are altogether different now. It is safe to say that the holy books of either religion are quite regularly abused by modern preachers, who read into these ambiguous passages what they want to, so they can convince the gullible among their flocks to do things like declare a holy war on the infidel, or oppose gay marriage.

I also note in passing the rather unambiguous bloodthirstiness of the Old Testament. Not many passages in literature more warlike than Joshua, are there?

In any event the events that most rightly concern us are unfolding today, not back in the seventh century. Not directly relevant are the supposed antisemitic acts of Mohammed, or the glories of the Judeo-Islamic Kingdom of Granada. More to the point, we might listen in on such sermons as are being preached today in the mosques of London, and the churches of Alabama.

You forgot a very important commandment.
This is the one muslims love to violate.

"Thou shall not kill"

I dont think anyone in the non-muslim world will desire to become a victim of that sin. That is what we are all trying to avoid from mussies.

Roy, did you read the Sun-Times article.....
that I posted yesterday? You probably heard of the author.

Rodney Goes Absolutist
You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you..."

Its is ironic that somebody with a long record writing on TCS with no indication of any religious leanings, outside an adherence to the promises of the Gospel of Marx, should now attempt to identify a single passage, to the exclusion of all othersand prescribe a peculiar misconstruction of that text to suits his implicit demands to engage in a absolutist radical pacifism to the point of collective suicide. I am reminded of the bard's injunction about the devil quoting scripture, when I see such exigetical wordplay.

One can do all those things and still recognize a duty to defend oneself or others. I can understand that the murdering hordes that have been motivated by Islam from the seventh to the twenty first century are all children of God. I also recognize that the Sudanese Christians being offered a choice between conversion and death are children of God. In a perfect world, we would be defending them, even at the cost of our own lives-because a man can have no greater love than to lay his live down for another.

I think I probably did. Was it in connection with anything like this subject? Fill me in.

Common Right of Independent Opinion
Although I was raised Roman Catholic, I have come to share the same beliefs as Thomas Jefferson -- Jesus Christ was a teacher of profound morality but not divine, not capable of miracles, and not resurrected, because he was only human like you and I.

Thus I am not a "Christian" as others would define, but I do know when a fair number of literal Bible folk are ideologically opposed to practice what they preach -- like loving their enemy.

Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Rush
Washington, April 21, 1803

Dear Sir,

In some of the delightful conversations with you, in the evenings of 1798-99, and which served as an anodyne to the afflictions of the crisis through which our country was then laboring, the Christian religion was sometimes our topic; and I then promised you, that one day or other, I would give you my views of it. They are the result of a life of inquiry and reflection, and VERY DIFFERENT FROM THAT ANTI-CHRISTIAN SYSTEM IMPUTED TO ME BY THOSE WHO KNOW NOTHING OF MY OPINIONS.

To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; and believing he never claimed any other.

...I am, moreover, averse to the communication of my religious tenets to the public; because it would countenance the presumption of those who have endeavored to draw them before that tribunal, and to SEDUCE PUBLIC OPINION to erect itself into that INQUISITUON OVER THE RIGHTS OF CONSCEINCE, which the laws have so justly proscribed.

It behooves EVERY MAN WHO VALUES LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE for himself, TO RESIST INVASIONS of it in the case of others; or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own. It behooves him, too, in his own case, to give no example of concession, betraying the common right of independent opinion, by answering questions of faith, which the laws have left between God and himself.

Accept my affectionate salutations.

Would Jesus Love His Enemies?
"Could Christians have done more by trying to stop its ememies and convince them to not be enemies before WWII started? Wouldn't a strong stand against Hitler been an act of loving our enemy?"

True Christians would never have voted for, nor belonged to Jew-hating Nazi Party, would never have served in the SS, nor appointed Hitler to any position of powerChancellor of Germany.

That's the real failure of Christianity in the role of WWII.

But the United States was founded on principles beyond Christian morality (and some say we are the lesser for it -- not I). We as citizens can LEGALLY act explicity against the teaching of Christianity because the First Amendment guarantees us all the Rights of Conscience, free from governmental regulation or influence.

It's murder, not kill.
There is a difference.

Linguistic Precision
Well that all depends on which version of Christianity and/or you which version of the scriputre you accept as the "literal Bible."

Cathecism of the Catholic Church

Article 5
The Fifth Commandment

You shall not kill.
[Ex 20:13; Cf. Deut 5:17.]

You have heard that it was said to the men of old, "You shall not kill: and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment." But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.
[Mt 5:21-22.]


Legitimate defense

2267. Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm -- without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself -- the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."
[John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 56. 69 Cf. Gen 4:10.]

Hebrew Text
What does it say in Hebrew or whatever language it was first documented?

No there is not.
Murder and killing are the same thing. Go tell that to your local muslim and they will laugh at you.

Yes. It is on the.....
10th or 11th line of this page. Interesting reading when you have the time.

Others disagree
"For example, two of the most eminent commentators of the time, Rabbi Samuel ben Meir (Rashbam) and Rabbi Joseph Bekhor-Shor, felt the need to go on at uncharacteristic length in order to explain that the Hebrew text refers only to unlawful killing. Both these scholars pointed out plainly the differences between the Hebrew roots for killing and murdering (for good measure, Bekhor Shor even provides a French translation of the latter term: meurtre), and brought ample evidence of the Torah's condoning other types of killing."

Jefferson & Madison foresaw disagreement
Of course others disagree! That's the nature of religious sects -- it's also one of the fundamental reasons why Thomas Jefferson and James Madison felt so strongly for the seperation of Church from State.


The Virginia Act For Establishing Religious Freedom
Thomas Jefferson, 1786

Well aware that Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to BEGET HABITS OF HYPOCRISY AND MEANNESS, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet CHOSE NOT TO PROAGATE IT BY COERCIONS on either, as was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time;

...that our CIVIL RIGHTS HAVE NO DEPENDENCE ON OUR RELIGIOUS OPINIONS, more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that, therefore, the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to the offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow citizens he has a natural right;


Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments
James Madison, 1785

We the subscribers, citizens of the said Commonwealth, having taken into serious consideration, a Bill printed by order of the last Session of General Assembly, entitled "A Bill establishing a provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion," and conceiving that the same if finally armed with the sanctions of a law, will be A DANGEROUS ABUSE OF POWER, are bound as faithful members of a free State to remonstrate against it, and to declare the reasons by which we are determined.

1. Because we hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth, "that religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be DIRECTED ONLY BY REASON AND CONVICTION, not by force or violence." ...

What does that have to do with murder?

'True Christians' in Nazi Germany
"True Christians would never have voted for, nor belonged to Jew-hating Nazi Party, would never have served in the SS, nor appointed Hitler to any position of powerChancellor of Germany.'

You are right! True Christians (defined as those who believed and followed the teaching of Jesus as opposed to the more general definitions or "church members" or clergy members or people in a "christian country" who are not adherents of another religion) were in a marginalized minority. The ***** tolerated the "go along to get along Christians" because they were not a threat.

The decline in the number and influence of Christians who believed and followed the teachings of Jesus actually started before the rise of the Nazi Party with the acceptance of ideas in theological seminaries that the writers of the New Testament would call heresy.

Great, now just convince muslims.......
to stop killing us...period.

Kill vs. Murder
If "Thou shalt not kill" is the correct translation, then you have a problem with commands later in the Pentatuch and the book of Joshua, where God commands the Israelites to wipe out the inhabitants of the Promised Land who were guilty if child sacrifice and other abominations.

Even if "kill" is the correct translation, notice the "thou shalt not" which is the 16/17 Century way of saying "you shall not". We use "you" to mean a specific person (singular) or more than one person (plural). If a plural meaning was intended then "ye" would have been used. (
So the killing prohibition is against individuals, not corporate (plural) action (war, capital punishment), which would be contradictory with other Scripture. So if you assume that the commandment is from an all-knowing God, then you have to assume that God is smart enough not to contradict himself.

It's true, I've read that before. There are hardly any Christians left in Palestine, and they're leaving Iraq as fast as they can. Muslims can be very obnoxious in their exercise of religion.

You're wrong about the founders.
They were men of the Enlightenment who believed in reason and the lessons of history. They continued the Greco-Roman tradition of reason, natural law, and individual rights. They were not pacifists (except the Quakers) and did not believe in turning the other cheek. Unlike Jesus, who lived under Roman oppression and never organized or preached sedition, the founders believed in violent revolution.

Of course they considered themselves Christians or, for some, deists. But they favored a more muscular Christianity which has its origin in the Roman Empire. Acknowledged or not, they were more Western in the Greco-Roman tradition, than "the-end-is-near" ascetics of the early Jewish-reform movement led by Jesus.

And this means?
I didn't question your upbringing, nor your current theology.

Similarly, your adoption of Jeffersonian deism isn't relevant. To the extent that Jefferson failed to find any assertions of divinity by Christ, he was wrong.

What I questioned was your capacity and sincerity in bringing to bear a scriptural argument to support your position. The salient point remains the same: Loving one's neighbor does not translate to unilateral surrender and suicide, especially when your neighbor is acting with "malice aforethought".

Menonites are in no way moderate but are not dangerous. A moderate Islam is not what is...
..needed but a less agressive Islam that does not believe in violence.

Literacy mass communication (the press) lead to people being able to read the religious text for the
Whenever Schwartz writes one of these articles and I read the comment I start to wonder if literacy mass communication (the press) lead Christians to be more pacifistic from read the new testament and the Moslems to be more violent because they are now able to the Koran and the other writings.

As far back as the Ancient Greeks, Plato "Beware of the Man of One Book", partial knowledge has always led us astray.

Justifed Murders?
Because, depending on your view of Christian teachings, captial punishment may or may not be considered murder (see Pope John Paul II dictate in the previous post).

So if we are supposed to have a federal government founded on Christian principles, which version of Christianity should does the federal government support -- the one that views the Death Penalty as murder or justice?

For some, it means...
"To the extent that Jefferson failed to find any assertions of divinity by Christ, he was wrong."

Oh no, Jefferson found those passages claiming a divine origin. In fact he INTENTIONALLY removed when he compiled his own version of the Scriptures, now called the Jefferson Bible. So YOU may think he's wrong, but his religious beliefs and the laws our country is founded upon protect pluralism.


"The salient point remains the same: Loving one's neighbor does not translate to unilateral surrender and suicide, especially when your neighbor is acting with "malice aforethought"

To which I must respond -- as anyone who truly wants to be a follower of Christ would respond -- what would Jesus do?

I also direct you to the Vatican's analysis on the issue to present the diversity of opinion within Christianity. So, which version of Christianity to do you think our country was founded upon -- which version should are laws be based upon?

Cathecism of the Catholic Church

Article 5
The Fifth Commandment

2309. The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to RIGOROUS CONDITIONS OF MORAL LEGITIMACY. At one and the same time:
- the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
- all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
- there must be serious prospects of success;
- the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs heavily in calculating this condition.

These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the "just war" doctrine. The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.


2312. THE CHURCH AND HUMAN REASON BOTH ASSERT THE PERMANENT VALIDITY OF THE MORAL LAW during armed conflict. "The mere fact that war has regrettably broken out does not mean that everything becomes licit between the warring parties."


2317. Injustice, excessive economic or social inequalities, envy, distrust, and pride raging among men and nations constantly threaten peace and CAUSE WARS. Everything done to overcome these disorders contributes to building up peace and avoiding war:

Insofar as men are sinners, the threat of
war hangs over them and will so continue
until Christ comes again; but insofar as
they can vanquish sin by coming together
in charity, violence itself will be vanquished
and these words will be fulfilled: "they shall
beat their swords into plowshares, and their
spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not
lift up sword against nation, neither shall
they learn war any more."
[GS 78 § 6; cf. Isa 2:4.]

'True Christians' in America
Indeed, any Christian who can justify the hate another people has lost its way.

Today, there are American "Christians" who claim the right to hate Islam and it's followers. I wonder, what do you think caused this error in judgement?

Who said government founded on Christian principles?
Not I.

Judge Roy Moore, for one
It's good to know that you don't subscribe to that point of viewm, but too many self-described "Conservatives" believe otherwise. More importantly, they are actively promoting candidates and elected officials to carry out said agenda -- the most obvious example being Judge Roy Moore.

Thou Shalt Have No God Before Us
by Benjamin D. DuPré

"I put the monument in the building for the purpose of restoring the moral foundation of law. And to do that, ONE MUST RECONGNIZE THE SOURCE OF THOSE MORAL LAWS, WHICH IS GOD. And when you recognize the source of those moral laws, it returns the knowledge of God to the land, the source of your life, liberty, property. And so the purpose was to restore the moral foundation."

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