Tuesday, 29 May 2007

'Christian' Malfeasance

First of all, a positional statement. I am not anti-Christian. I'm not a Christian myself, though I was raised one. Nowadays, I style myself an athiest and regad all faiths with bemused tolerance, aslong as they do the same to me and each other. I don't resent the church (I wasn't a Catholic, after all) or feel the need to attack it. I admire many people who are Christians, and admire many major church figures. One of the best things about being a non-Christian is that I can admire the excellent things said and done by people such as the Arch Bishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, an almost painfully decent person, and Bishop John Shelby Spong, even though they don't agree themselves. I'd rather have a conversation with either of those fundamentally decent human beings than with the painfully obnoxious athiest Richard Dawkins.

I'm saying this because I think I'm going to be saying some very unkind things about people who style themselves Christians. I don't want decent, run of the mill Christians to think I am criticising them.

Anyway, to the matter on hand. I came across a story the other day. an American father was unhappy that his daughter was being shown pamphlets attacking Islam, distributed in class by an avowedly Christian organisation trying to warn young minds about the wickedness of the followers of Mohammed:

Teen's Dad Says 'Anti-Muslim' Literature Handed Out in Class Isn't Freedom of
Speech
Friday, February 23, 2007
By Liza Porteus

The father
of a North Carolina ninth grader who was given "anti-Muslim" literature in class says the material handed out is not an issue of free speech, but of slander and defamation.

"First of all, it slanders, things like, Mohammed is a 'criminal,' is 'demon possessed' ... that just made my blood boil," said Triaq Butte, whose daughter, Saira, participated in a ninth grade orientation seminar at Enloe High School in Wake County, N.C., where the material was distributed.

Butte is a non-practicing Muslim; he said his wife is Christian and his children are taught to accept and respect all religions.

"So for a person like me to feel like that — I've never been to a mosque — to feel like that … for me to feel such hideous attacks, they were not just pointing out failures or weaknesses in Islam or Muslims, they were just attacking."

A representative from the Kamil International Ministries Organization, a Christian group based in Raleigh, was invited by a teacher to come and speak to the class. He handed out literature that compared the teachings of Jesus with accusations against the Prophet Muhammad.

(http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,253824,00.html)

First of all, respect to Mr Butte, who had the wherewithal to complain about something that offended him even though it did not affect him directly. "First they came for the communists," and all that.

Second, why does Fox describe him as a 'non-practicing Muslim'? Isn't a non-practicing Muslim, um, not a Muslim? So why identify him as such? It seems pathetically petty, and suggests either they're trying to undermine him (unlikely) or suspect their readers, seeing the Arabic name, will immediately assume he's a fully fired up Jihadist. Which is very sad.

But these are preliminaries. What really bugged me about this was precisely what bugged Mr Butte, namely, the approach taken by the Kamil Institute. As I said earlier, I am tolerant towards all faiths, as long as their followers don't set out to hurt other people or get too loud in their evangelism. The Kamil Institute, however, is not an organisation that promotes Christianity. Its purpose is to denigrate Islam. This, from its website:

Kamil International Ministries Organization is dedicated to teaching the truth about Islam. We love Muslims but we believe that Islam is not a Divine faith, Muhammad was not a prophet from God and the Koran is not the Word of God. Our mission is to raise an awareness of the danger of Islam among Christians and equip them to share Jesus with Muslims. We will be glad to impart historical and factual information about Islam.

(http://www.kimo4jesus.org/)

This is on the front page of their website so they don't even think there is anything wrong with what they are saying or doing. Put plainly, this is not a Christian organisation, i.e. one that promotes Christianity. It is an anti-Islamic organisation. As such, it should not be propogating its world view in schools. Unless, as balance, the school were to invite Mullah Omar to make a similar presentation.

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