On September 6, 2011 the newly formed Claremont Lincoln University officially opened. “Claremont, a Methodist institution dating back to 1885 has partnered with the Islamic Center of Southern California, the Academy for Jewish Religion and the International School for Jain Studies” [Jain is an Indian religion] to create the world’s first interreligious university. This is the first multi-religious program of its kind offering a curriculum that allows religious leaders to cross-enroll in programs that train Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders. Other Christian institutions such as Hartford Seminary train imams, but this is the first to include Jewish and Jain studies. The university hopes to eventually add Hinduism and Buddhism studies to the project.
The university will train rabbis, imam and pastors from many denominations. According to one report, “the Claremont Lincoln University will be a space where future religious leaders and scholars can learn from each other and collaboratively seek solutions to major global issues that no one single religion can solve alone.” Claremont claims they are not watering down Christianity but are taking “Christ’s commands to be peacemakers and to love our neighbor as ourselves seriously.”
In order to understand the basis for this university, it is helpful to look at the founders. Rev. Jerry Campbell, Rabbi Mel Gottlieb and Imam Jihad Turk are the co-founders of this new model of education. These three men met regularly each month for a year picking a theme, preparing and then spending a couple of hours with each other discussing what their various texts said.
Perhaps most revealing about the future direction of the university is an account about one of these meetings from an article written by Rabbi Gottlieb:
For this session, Imam Turk chose a text from the Quran that is often interpreted as meaning that those who don’t believe in Islam cannot obtain salvation. He pointed out, however, that capitalizing the word Islam in this case is a fundamentalist translation. It implies that those who believe the religion of Islam are superior. Other texts in the Quran (such as 2:62) contradict that assumption.
In fact, said Imam Turk, the correct scholarly translation of this text is to spell islam with a lower case “i,” using the word’s literal meaning: submission/yielding (to God). Since Christians, Jews and other spiritual people, as well as Muslims, yield to the Divine, they are all included in the word islam.
So according to at least one of the founders he believes all spiritual people are included in Islam. In addition, Imam Turk left out the Qur’anic verses preceding sura 2:62 that basically says if Arab pagans, Jews and Christians are in doubt concerning the Qur’an they should fear the fire of hell which is prepared for disbelievers (sura 2:22-24).
There is One, Jesus Christ, who is Truth. The scriptures warn that we are not to compromise the truth. The Word of God in II Tim. 3:7 tells us there will be those who are “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
PRAYER FOR EDUCATION:
One of the definitions of truth is “a verified or indisputable fact.” Jesus Christ said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” so within the Christian community Truth is certainly foundational.
In the past couple of years, there have been a number of blogs, e-mails and even “news” services that have reported on a phenomenon called Chrislam – a blending of Christian and Islamic teachings. Unfortunately, there are churches that in an attempt to love their Muslim neighbor water down the gospel and invite imams into their churches to speak and read passages from the Qur’an. Statistically four out of five Americans believe Christians and Muslims worship the same God so there are definitely groups who call themselves Christians who obviously do not have an understanding of the difference between the two religions.
However, there have been e-mails passed around in Christian circles regarding Chrislam that are untrue. A recent one accuses Pastor Rick Warren from Saddleback Church in California of practicing and promoting Chrislam.
It is true Pastor Warren spoke at the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) meeting in 2009. He received criticism from many in the Christian community for speaking at the meeting. He called on Muslims and Christians to work together, and as part of his comments said, “I am not talking about civil religion where everybody compromises their beliefs and we dumb it down so really we don’t believe in anything. Differences make a difference.“ You can read the entire transcript of Pastor Warren’s comments here.
In February of 2012, a newspaper article claimed Pastor Warren and his church had “embarked on an effort to heal divisions between evangelical Christians and Muslims by partnering with Southern California mosques and proposing a set of theological principles that includes acknowledging that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.”
Because of the widespread circulation of the article, Pastor Warren responded in an interview at Pastors.com. As far as the report of Christians and Muslims worshipping the same God, he said, “Christians have a fundamentally different view of God than Muslims. We worship Jesus as God. Muslims don’t. Our God is Jesus, not Allah. Colossians 2:9 ‘For in Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.’ Second, while we urge our member to build friendships with everyone in our community, including Muslims and other faiths (love your neighbor as yourself) our church has never had any partnership with a mosque. Friendship and partnership are two very different levels of commitment.”
There are other concerns that Christians have raised about some American pastors and Christian leaders who included their signatures on a document with Muslim scholars called A Christian Response to A Common Word Between Us and You. Although many with an understanding of Islam and the agenda behind the religion would not sign this document, it is important that in a world where Christians and Muslims interact daily we begin to pray for each other in the body of Christ to have wisdom in these interactions.
Mark 3:24, says, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” It is time for the Church to rise up and support each other through prayer rather than to tear each other apart through misunderstandings and differences of opinion.
PRAYER FOR RELIGION
There are two equally destructive arms of the Islamist movement that seek to impose shariah law on Muslim and Western societies. One is violent calling for activities such as suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism. The other arm operates lawfully, but yet effectively conducting what is termed as “soft jihad”. Both divisions have the same goal and work apart separately, but their work reinforces each others.
For example under shariah law it is blasphemy to criticize Islam or the prophet Muhammad. The violent arm of the Islamist movement would react to something critical of Islam by rioting in the streets, burning cars and killing innocents. The soft jihad side would hire lawyers and sue westerners to silence the critics.
Lawfare is a relatively new term referring to the use of the law as a weapon of war. It actually is an abuse of Western laws and judicial systems to achieve military or political goals. It is often used to silence and punish free speech.
Islamists (states, organizations and individuals) file lawsuits oftentimes they know they cannot win designed to silence critics of militant Islam. The purpose of the suits is to discourage, intimidate and place a financial burden on those who are speaking out against the Islamists such as counterterrorism experts, politicians, law enforcement members – basically anyone who is attempting to sound the alarm about the threat of militant Islam.
For example, the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) sued former U.S. Congressman Cass Ballenger for $2 million for saying in a 2003 interview that CAIR was a “fundraising arm for Hezbollah”. The judge in the case ruled Congressman Ballenger’s statements were protected speech because they were made in the scope of his public duties.
Andrew Whitehead, the founder of a website called Anti-CAIR-net.org was sued by CAIR for $1.3 million for listing CAIR as an Islamist group with terrorists ties on his website. The lawsuit was eventually dropped.
Joe Kaufman from Americans Against Hate was sued by the Muslim American Society for leading a protest against the Muslim Family Day at Six Flags Over Texas. The Texas Court of Appeals eventually dismissed the case although it took a financial toll on Mr. Kaufman.
Bruce Tefft, a retired case officer from the CIA and founding member of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center was sued along with the NYPD by a Muslim police officer for workplace harassment. The police officer had joined Tefft’s e-mail group of terror related news items and commentary. The group is voluntary so the Muslim officer had to subscribe in order to receive the e-mails. The legal bills for Mr. Tefft had exceeded $65,000 before the case even went to trial.
The list of lawsuits is not limited to individuals; Islamic organizations have also sued the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Boston Herald.
These lawsuits are a threat not only to those who are sued, but also to our Constitutional right of free speech. Publishers have cancelled books and many who would speak out have been silenced by the threat of expensive legal battles.
PRAYER FOR MEDIA:
Following the 9/11 attacks on our nation, President Bush addressed a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001 and said, “Our ‘war on terror’ begins with al-Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”
In order to defeat an enemy, we must be able define our enemy. In the days since 9/11, our nation has been involved in a war most Americans were not aware we were even fighting. It is a war we are currently losing – a war of information.
The 9/11 Commission was a bi-partisan group that investigated the 9/11 terrorism attacks on our nation. This Commission “interviewed over 1,200 people in 10 countries and reviewed over two and a half million pages of documents, including some closely guarded classified national security documents.” A final report of the Commission’s findings was released on July 22, 2004.
The language used to describe the attacks on our nation in the 9/11 Commission report reflected the research of the Commission. Here are some examples of the words used and the number of times they appeared in the report: Enemy (39), Jihad (126), Muslim (145), Islam (322), Muslim Brotherhood (5), Religious (65), al Qaeda (36), and Violent Extremism (3).
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) along with other Muslim groups attacked the report. MPAC said, “Terminology is important in defining our goals as well as removing roadblocks into hearts and minds. The 9/11 Commission identifies Islamist terrorism as the threat. The Muslim Public Affairs Council recommends that the US government find other terminology.”
This began a sterilization of the language our government uses regarding terror that continues today.
For example, in 2008, the FBI Counter-terrorism Analytical Lexicon was published. The document’s stated purpose is “to help standardize the terms used in FBI analytical products dealing with counterterrorism.” In this document, the words enemy, jihad, Muslim, Islam, Muslim Brotherhood, and al Qaeda are no longer used. Violent extremism is used 29 times and religious only 3 times. Our enemy, terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda have been quite clear regarding their motivation. Removing language that is part of that motivation simply makes it more difficult to defeat them.
Major Nidal Hasan, a US Army officer shot and killed 13 people and injured 32 at the Soldiers Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood, Texas on November 5, 2009. He shouted “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is Great) as he shot the unarmed soldiers and civilians. Hasan had met Anwar al-Awlaki, now deceased al-Qaeda leader and exchanged e-mails with him prior to the attack. After the attack, a Senate report described it as “the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil since September 11, 2001,” and said Hasan had become an adherent of “violent Islamist extremism.”
In 2010 the Department of Defense released, Protecting the Force: Lessons from Fort Hood a review of the Fort Hood incident. In this report the word “religious” is used 59 times, but there is no mention of enemy, Muslim, Islam, or jihad. Although Major Hasan was in contact with al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, neither one of these organizations are mentioned in the report. Even more incredibly, Major Hasan, the single shooter in the Ft. Hood incident is never mentioned in the Fort Hood report. In addition, the Department of Defense labeled the incident “workplace violence.”
PRAYER FOR GOVERNMENT
Most Americans are familiar with the popular superhero comic characters, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, but few have probably heard of a new group of Superheroes called The 99 who joined forces with these popular characters for a special miniseries of six comic books published in the United States in 2010.
The comic series is called The 99 because each of the heroes has a power based on one of the 99 attributes of Allah. The characters are adults and teenagers from around the world who find one of 99 magical Noor Stones that gives them their power. Characters include Jabbar The Powerful, Mumita The Destroyer, Noora The Light, and Batina the Hidden. Batina is a superhero woman wearing a burka.
Although there are not yet 99 characters eventually the series plans to have 49 male heroes and 50 female heroes. In addition to the comic books, there is an animated series and spinoffs such as online comics, games, and an iPhone and iPad app and even a theme park in Kuwait.
The animated series was purchased by The Hub, a Discovery Channel cable and satellite television venture. The series was scheduled to be aired in the United States on The Hub in 2011, but it was never aired. Although the network has not given a reason, it is believed it is because of news articles and blogs that protested the Islamic cartoon. Daniel Pipes reported the Times of London described the series’ mission as “instilling old-fashioned Islamic values in Christian, Jewish, and atheist children.”
In 2010 at the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship, President Obama called The 99 the “most innovative response” to America’s expanding dialogue with the Muslim world. He further praised the comic books for having “captured the imagination of so many young people with superheroes who embody the teachings and tolerance of Islam.”
PRAYER FOR ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Last week, Interfaith Alliance brought together a coalition of 42 groups who participated in writing a letter to the five members of Congress who had called for an investigation into the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S. government. The letter said the actions of the legislators “have serious implications for religious freedom and the health of our democracy.”
It was signed by Jewish, Hindu and secular groups, along with several Christian groups including the United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society, United Church of Christ, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Presbyterian Church (USA) Office of Public Witness, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations, and the American Baptist Churches USA.
The letter condemning the Congressmen for raising concerns says, “Those you accuse…leaders of the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and Muslim Advocates have long-standing histories of positive and committed work to strengthen the United States of America.”
It is true there are long-standing histories, but most would doubt how positive their work in our nation has been. For example, a look at the history of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is quite revealing. ISNA not only was designated by the United States federal government as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism funding trial, but it also attempted to have the designation removed and failed. U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Solis said the government had produced ample evidence to establish their association with Hamas. Some of the evidence included a Muslim Brotherhood document that listed ISNA as an “apparatus” of the Brotherhood along with proof ISNA raised money and supported Hamas through a joint bank account with the Holy Land Foundation. According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism, “ISNA checks deposited into the account were often payable to ‘the Palestinian Mujahiden’”.
ISNA’s ties to Hamas were proven in U.S. federal court. Hamas’ name is an acronym of Harakat al Mawqawama al Islamiyya meaning “Islamic Resistance Movement.” Article 2 of the Hamas charter states “The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Youssef Qaradawi wrote a book called Priorities of the Islamic Movement in which he gives some reasons for Muslims to participate in interfaith dialogue including “the Church stop supporting Christians against Muslims in every battle that erupts between the two sides, such as those in southern Sudan and the Philippines and in other regions.”
Revealing more of the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates’ purpose for interfaith dialogue, a Qatari newspaper reported Qaradawi’s instructions. “We do not engage in dialogue with them so that they may be pleased with our religion. They will not be satisfied with us unless we follow their form of religion. This is a fact. We only converse with them to find common grounds on which to stand together against atheism, obscenity, and grievances…. We try to rally the Christians with us to stand together, especially for the cause of Palestine, since Palestine has both Muslims and Christians. We have to rally the Muslims and Christians of Jerusalem to stand up together against Zionism and the Israeli arrogance and tyranny. There is no objection to that.”
According to the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the purpose for interfaith dialogue is to convince Christians to stop supporting other Christians and Israel.
The Interfaith Alliance website states, “We believe that religious and political extremists are a threat to individual liberty and democracy.” The problem is the Alliance is clearly unaware that by coming against these legislators and defending groups such as ISNA they are actually aiding those religious extremists. If the Muslim Brotherhood succeeds in creating their goal of a worldwide Islamic caliphate there will be no liberty, democracy or freedom.
PRAYER FOR RELIGION
As children across the nation soon return to the classroom after the summer break, it is an excellent time for parents, grandparents and other loved ones to become aware of what our children are learning. This is especially critical regarding the religion of Islam.
It is certainly valuable in our increasingly global economy to understand the dynamics and culture of other parts of the world and learning about religions as part of that study is an integral part. As Christians we must insist however that any study of other religions is done in a way to fairly and truthfully educate students and make sure it is indeed education instead of indoctrination.
ACT for America has done an excellent, extensive review of the treatment of Islam in American textbooks. They reviewed and analyzed the treatment of Islam in thirty-eight American textbooks ranging from the 6th to 12th grade level. These are textbooks currently in use in public schools across the nation.
Their findings are alarming and need to be addressed by individual schools, school boards and states across the nation. Overall the amount of information in textbooks about Islam has increased while the amount about Christianity has decreased.
One example of a completely false statement is from the text, World History – Patterns of Interaction. The text says, “Shari’a law requires Muslim leaders to extend religious tolerance to Christians and Jews.” Another text, World Explorer – Medieval Times to Today, says, “Christians and Jews had full religious freedom. They built churches and synagogues, and several were financed by the state. The state did not ask Christians and Jews to perform military service, but it required them to pay a head tax called jizya…”
Both of these statements are false. Shariah law imposes many burdens and restrictions on Christians and Jews. Under shariah law Christians and Jews cannot build new houses of worship or even make repairs to existing ones. They cannot bear arms, ride horses, pray (if the prayer can be heard by a Muslim) or give testimony in Islamic courts. During certain periods of history, Christians and Jews were required to wear clothing or a badge signifying their non-Muslim status.
Unfortunately, American textbooks are full of examples like this. In our society where Christianity is continually attacked for being “intolerant”, children across our nation are being taught inaccurate, and sometimes blatantly misleading information about a religion, which truly is intolerant of other religions. If you have a child in school, take the time and investigate the information regarding Islam in their textbook. ACT for America’s report can be downloaded at this address.
PRAYER FOR EDUCATION