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Monday, September 13, 2010

Do Muslims Have the Freedom to Choose Conversion?

A kook Florida pastor's plan to burn qu'rans has stirred up a number of breast beaters among the Catholic bishops. They are quick to jump on the bandwagon to condemn the violence against the Muslims' holy book. You know who they are: usually the same bishops who can't bring themselves to discipline politicians who advocate burning and dismembering innocent babies in the womb.

One, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, recently participated in an ecumenical press conference to address "bigotry against Muslims" resulting from plans to build the mosque at Ground Zero in New York City. When asked whether Muslims have the right to convert to Christianity he responded with a bob and weave and never directly answered the question, unlike a Christian pastor who answered clearly and unequivocally: asked McCarrick, “Americans believe there is a God-given right to the free exercise of religion, which is enshrined in the First Amendment. Does a Muslim born and raised in Mecca have a God-given right to convert to the Roman Catholic faith, in your mind, and freely exercise his religion there?”

“As an American, I believe that we all have a right to practice what God tells us is his message to us, and if, therefore, if someone is--if someone sees the Gospel as the truth of God’s presence in our world, that person should embrace the Gospel,” McCarrick responded.

“If a person sees the Quran as proof of God’s presence in the world, then I cannot say, ‘Don’t embrace the Quran.’ So that I think we are, we should always be willing to talk to people and we should always be willing to love them and we should always be willing to allow them that freedom of conscience which comes from God.”
The press conference where Cardinal McCarrick delivered this wishy-washy answer was sponsored by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). There apparently was no discussion of anti-Christian violence by Muslims such as the recent murder of a man in Egypt because of a rumor that the Coptic Christian had a relationship with the Muslim murderer's sister. The killer doused the man with gasoline and set him on fire. When his father arrived at a rally later the Muslim crowd stabbed him to death. Have you heard about this? Not likely, but you've heard about plans to burn the qu'ran ad nauseum. One can only conclude that, to the media, burning a book is more serious than burning a man to death.

According to The Christian Post, "In Egypt recently, sectarian violence has been on the rise as Christian-Muslim relations have been strained by conversions to Christianity and government opposition to recognizing the conversions." Muslims are perfectly happy to accept converts from Christianity but woe betide the Muslim who accepts Christ!

Cardinal McCarrick needs to answer the question. Do Muslims have the right to convert to Christianity? And there are a few related questions as well. Do Christians have the right to wear the crucifix and cross and publicly practice their faith in Muslim countries? (In Saudi Arabia, for example, non-Islamic religions may only be practiced in private.) Do our soldiers have the right to freedom of religion when they serve in Islamic-ruled nations? As for the ISNA and McCarrick's participation with the group, it has radical roots and connections to the militant Muslim Brotherhood. Federal prosecutors named the group an unindicted conspirator in the 2008 Hamas terrorist financing trial. ISNA conferences also often feature radical speakers.

It's amazing to see how much hoopla has been generated by one crank pastor threatening to burn the qu'ran, and almost no media condemnation of Muslims burning people to death or issuing fatwas (legal rulings) calling for violence, such as those against Salman Rushdie for The Satanic Verses and Danish illustrator Kurt Westergaard for a dozen cartoons depicting Mohammed as well as others against journalists calling for women's emancipation.

One of the most offensive acts in this drama over the qu'ran burning occurred at the Catholic Cathedral in Sacramento where an ecumenical group came together to put "roses of love" on the qu'ran, a book that advocates killing infidels, i.e., Christians and others who don't embrace Islam. The service included releasing 18 "peace doves" and singing Let there be peace on earth. That a Catholic pastor (Fr. Anthony Garibaldi) would bless the qu'ran is a disgrace. One doesn't have to agree with the Florida pastor's actions to oppose blessing a book that portrays God as a maniacal tyrant who authorizes his "prophet" to convert by the sword, cheat and lie to non-Muslims, and kill those who blaspheme, commit adultery, or write unflattering books.

Cardinal McCarrick and others of his ilk have illustrated time and again how little they honor or accept the doctrines of the Catholic Church. His actions are no less offensive to believing Catholics than those of the book-burning pastor in Florida.


S. Petersen said...

Less offensive (the book burner) because unlike that benighted man, Card. McCarrick should know better. A man with every advantage that Western Culture can afford and he's just as mixed up as some slack-jawed, beady-eyed, rustic Baptist.

Anonymous said...

Please remove the offensive comment by S. Petersen. I happen to have family who are "slack-jawed, beady-eyed, rustic Baptists," although we have been able to convince one family member to convert to Catholicism.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I love Baptists and other good pro-life Protestants who are often more Catholic than Catholics I know. Many times I've been sidewalk counselling or rescuing or working with good Baptists who are often more pro-life than Catholics.

I took S. Petersen's comment to refer to the inflammatory behavior of one person, not every Baptist. But I agree that the comment is rude. I'm reluctant to censor people for rudeness.