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But it’s not a holy war. No, really, it’s not

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That thing in Iraq?

It’s not a holy war.

No, really it’s not.

Pay no attention to the rhetoric and actions of the largest Christian groups in the United States.

Just try to believe that it makes sense for the Muslim world to welcome United States forces with open arms while at the same time some of President Bush’s closest political buddies talk about “a war for souls” in the Middle East.

The Telegraph (all emphases mine):

American Christian missionaries have declared a “war for souls” in Iraq, telling supporters that the formal end of the US-led occupation next June will close an historic “window of opportunity”.

Organising in secrecy, and emphasising their humanitarian aid work, Christian groups are pouring into the country, which is 97 per cent Muslim, bearing Arabic Bibles, videos and religious tracts designed to “save” Muslims from their “false” religion.

But, hey, don’t worry. This is just a few stray super-Christians, no big deal. Oh, wait.

The International Mission Board, the missionary arm of the Southern Baptists, is one of those leading the charge.

John Brady, the IMB’s head for the Middle East and North Africa, this month appealed to the 16 million members of his church, the largest Protestant denomination in America.

But, understand, this is just a few folks (well, okay, some of the most powerful leaders in the dominant religion in the U.S.) who want to spread the good news about a great guy named Jesus Christ. It it not about specifically targetting Islam.

Oh, wait. Scratch that.

“Southern Baptists must understand that there is a war for souls under way in Iraq,” [Brady’s] bulletin added, listing Islamic leaders and “pseudo-Christian” groups also flooding Iraq as his chief rivals.

The missionaries are mainly evangelicals who reject talk of Muslims and Christians worshipping the same God.

Jerry Vines, former head of the Southern Baptist Convention, has described the Prophet Mohammed as a “demon-obsessed paedophile”. Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham and the head of Samaritan’s Purse, a big donor to Iraq, has described Islam as a “very evil and wicked religion”.

[…]

Jon Hanna, an evangelical from Ohio who has recently returned from Iraq, applied for a new passport to travel there, describing himself as a humanitarian worker. “I was worried the US authorities might try to stop us, might be worried we were going to start a riot with our Bibles.”

In Baghdad last month Mr Hanna met two other American missionary teams. One, from Indiana, had shipped in 1.3 million Christian tracts. “A US passport is all you need to get in, until the new Iraqi government takes over. What we thought was a two-year window, originally, has narrowed down to a six month window,” said Mr Hanna, an evangelical minister and editor of Connection Magazine, a Christian newspaper in Ohio.

He describes Islam as “false”. He cited St John’s Gospel, saying: “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist.”

Well, okay, so there’s a lot of them, they don’t just represent some fringe religious groups, and they are actually declaring war on Islam. Still, the fact is that all they have are Bibles and pamphlets. They don’t actually have the support or acquiescence of the guys with the bombs and guns.

Oh. Shit. I forgot about the Commander in Chief of those bombs and guns. He’s the guy who termed the war on terror a “crusade,” speaks in terms of good and evil, and who, while properly refraining from using his official power to interfere in religious activities, also has publicly offered exactly zero personal discouragement of the “war for souls” projects in the Middle East, even though they are being waged by some of his most intimate friends.

Hmm…George Bush has no trouble using the bully pulpit to weigh in with his opinions on other matters. I wonder why the conspicuous silence on this particular issue…

The missionaries pose a dilemma for President George W Bush. He has reached out to Muslims since September 11, shrugging off criticism from evangelicals to describe Islam as “peaceful”. But Christian conservatives are also a key Bush constituency: Franklin Graham delivered the invocation prayer at his presidential inauguration.

Still, while having the look-the-other-way support of the born-again Commander in Chief, it isn’t just the bombs and guns that help reinforce the message that Christianity is a smart survival move for the average Iraqi. There’s another potent weapon in Christ’s arsenal: hunger.

In public, the largest groups put the emphasis on their delivery of food parcels and their medical work. However, their internal fund-raising materials emphasise mission work. One IMB bulletin reported aid workers handing out copies of the New Testament and praying with Muslim recipients. Another bulletin said Iraqis understood “who was bringing the food . . . it was the Christians from America.”

Southern Baptists from North Carolina visited Iraq in October to help hand out 45,000 boxes of donated food. One of the team, Jim Walker, told IMB’s Urgent News bulletin that he met village children “starved of attention and I could tell some of them have not eaten well. But their biggest need is to know the love of Christ.”

Mr Hanna said he encountered friendly curiosity, with noisy crowds gathering to take his group’s tracts. “Maybe 10 per cent were hostile.” He was one of 21 on his mission including Jackie Cone, 72, a Pentecostalist grandmother from Ohio who said God had told her to join a second mission planned for next year. “I sensed Him telling me to come back in January,” she said.

Mrs Cone is confident she made converts in Baghdad. In her hotel she met a Muslim woman on crutches with a leg operation due that day. Mrs Cone knelt on the lobby floor and prayed that surgery would not be required.

“I saw her that evening and she said God had healed her, and she hadn’t needed the surgery. She didn’t say Allah, she pointed to Heaven and gave God the glory,” she said.

Mrs Cone led the Kurdish woman and her brother in prayer, asking Jesus into their hearts. “I’d given them a Bible and a Jesus video in Arabic. I think they think of themselves as Christians now,” she said. “They have the Bible and I hope they will grow in grace.”

Plans for the future? Let’s ask Jon “Such a man is the antichrist” Hanna:

“Last time we only took 8,000 Arabic Bibles to Iraq. In future missions the goal is one million.”

But it’s not a holy war.

And any Iraqi who looks at it that way is just crazy.

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About Brian Flemming

  • http://www.tekwh0re.net Ms. Tek

    “Jerry Vines, former head of the Southern Baptist Convention, has described the Prophet Mohammed as a “demon-obsessed paedophile”.

    HAHAHAHAH.

    no

    HAHAHAHAH… For as second I thought they were talking about Michael Jackson again.

  • http://fando.blogs.com Natalie Davis

    lol

  • http://dirtgrain.com/weblog Jan Eggers

    Christianity gone wrong:

      On Columbus’s second voyage to the Americas, 1494: “The Spanish found Hatuey and his people, killed most of them, enslaved the others, and condemned their leader to be burned alive. Reportedly, as they were tying him to the stake, a Franciscan friar urged him to take Jesus to his heart so that his soul might go to heaven, rather than descend into hell. Hatuey replied that if heaven was where the Christians went, he would rather go to hell.”
      Source: American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World by David E. Stannard

    Check out LiberalsLikeChrist.org for more information on the book. I hold no ill will toward Christianity, and I think Jesus is a wonderful role model, but too often people have done evil things in the name of their religion. But don’t think it is just Christianity–see Buddhists Aren’t So Peaceful After all, and follow the link to Parenti’s article.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    What, a handful of Christian missionaries plan to hand out Bibles in Iraq? It’s a scandal, I tell you. An outrage!

    Or to put it differently, BFD. If an Iraqi doesn’t like Christianity, he doesn’t have to read a Bible. It’s not compulsory.

    What, they might be exposed to some outside religious ideas? GOOD. Some nice gentle Jesus stuff might be a good, calming influence in that very violent and hate filled corner of the world.

  • BrownBoognish

    Yea christianity will definetly bring peace to that corner of the globe. Basically we should assasniate all of their leaders, and convert all the people to christians. Then everything will be a-ok.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Yes, Boognish, that’s JUST what the Christian missionaries are intending to do. You figured them out. Can’t get anything past you, nosiree.

  • BATTLEMASTER

    Well,

    Why would Christian organizations trying to get people to accept their religious views be seen as ‘bad’ or unusual? What do you think the methodical and deliberate immigration of Islamic people into Europe, Canade and the US is? The same thing. All I know is that the US was fonded on certain principles that mirror Christian ones, and so think that it is important that Christian groups “step up” and do mission work in Iraq.

    I mean, it is pretty clear that many Islamic cultures are ones that focus excessive and destructive energy on pride (like the “vedetta” mind set of the Pashtun for example) and hatred. It is sooo easy to blame those Jews in stead of your own power hungry religious figures and their government.

    Hey, I thin that the VERY MEASURED and CONTROLLED and VERY COMPASSIONATE method used by the US forces was amazing. If it were up to me, mecca and the Islamic world would be hotbeds of nuclear activity and small pox right now. I mean, I’d rather initiate it now and not wait til they do it to me.

    Peace,

    BattleMaster

    “Indeed, we consider America to be our No. 1 enemy, as long as it supports our enemy.”
    From the sermon of Sheikh Ibrahaim Mudreis at the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan AlNahyan Mosque in Gaza on 5 SEP 2003.

    Oh yeah, Islam is a religfion of peace my ass!

  • http://dirtgrain.com/weblog Jan Eggers

    “Islam is a religfion of peace my ass!”
    Somehow, I can envision the spittle flying from your lips as you exclaim this Hitler-style. Most religions are about peace, but sometimes people, fanatics included, stray from the good things that religions have to offer. Now Dim Mak is an evil religion. It’s chi gone bad (Darth Vader, that guy who got his nose honked by Pat Morita, Jean Claude van Damme’s evil twin)–beware of the death touch kung fu.

    As for feuding religions, see my post “Mt. Fellowship Baptist Church and Its Feud and Other Knickknacks”

  • BrownBoognish

    BattleMaster, are you being satirical?
    The lunacy of your statement makes me think that maybe your comment is a failed, tasteless joke.

    “What do you think the methodical and deliberate immigration of Islamic people into Europe, Canade and the US is?”

    Isn’t all immigration deliberate? One dosn’t suddenly end up living in another country without planning it out. You also say that Muslims immigrating is the same as Christians trying to convert people. Most people immigrate in order to move on to a new and better life. The middle east is full of injustice (a lot of which is caused by the United States foreign policy) and therefore these people will immigrate. I’m suprised that this basic concept is difficult for you to grasp.

    There are human beings living in the middle east. Despite your claims, most Islamic people aren’t committing their entire lives into destructing western societies. Your disgusting desire to drop nuclear bombs on the region shows that you do not care about innocent human lives. What is an innocent casualty by your defintion? Surely bombing an entire region is much worse than 9/11.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Maybe this marks me as an evil white whatever, but I sure wish some nice Christian missionaries would bring the good news of Jesus Christ to some of the hate-filled individuals lining up for recruitment to jihad. It could only help.

  • BrownBoognish

    The religion is not the reason these people are “hate filled.” They dislike the United States because of its foreign policy. Changing them to christians is ignoring the real issue.

  • Eric Olsen

    BrownBoognish, you don’t really believe that the deranged, sociopathic haters of the West, and in particular the US and Israel hate us because of our “foreign policy,” do you? they hate us because we do not believe as they do, do not live as they do, and because they live in about the 13th century, we have vastly better, economies, technology, government, societies, and everything else measurable. Changing our foreign policy has zero bearing on the Islamists.

  • http://www.slumdance.com/blogs/brian_flemming/ Brian Flemming

    Eric,

    1. What percentage of Middle East residents would you peg as “deranged, sociopathic haters of the West”?

    2. What percentage of Middle East residents would you say significantly resent U.S. foreign policy, to the extent that they would rate the U.S. as one of the greatest dangers to the world?

    3. How would you explain the difference, if any?

  • http://dirtgrain.com/weblog Jan Eggers

    Read “Does U.S. Intervention Overseas Breed Terrorism? The Historical Record,” and “The Consequences of Empire,” and “Rogue States.” It is interesting that they are pre-9/11 pieces that seem to hint at problems from reactions to our foreign policy.

    The War against Modernity by David Kelley offers a good round-up of supposed reasons for why they “hate” us. Who can be sure which reasons really drive Osama’s hatred? Here are some excerpts:

      One goal is to drive the Western powers out of the Middle East, removing Western military, economic, and cultural presence from the region. Bin Laden’s three immediate demands, repeated in virtually every statement, are to stop American support for Israel, lift sanctions against Iraq, and remove American troops from Saudi Arabia. . . .

      “This war is fundamentally religious,” bin Laden said. . . . “The people of the East are Muslims. They sympathized with Muslims against the people of the West, who are the crusaders. Under no circumstances should we forget this enmity between us and the infidels. For, the enmity is based on creed. Muslims must stand together. We must be loyal to the believers and those who believe that there is no God but Allah. . . .”

      A third goal of the Islamists is to create a strict form of Islamic society, based on application of Islamic law, the shari’a. In this respect, the fundamentalists and their terrorist wing have mounted an often-violent campaign against governments in their own countries, whom they accuse of failing to rule in accordance with the Koran. . . .

      Bernard Lewis, the eminent scholar of Islam, traces this support to a growing resentment of the West, a resentment that “goes beyond hostility to specific interests or actions or policies or even countries and becomes a rejection of Western civilization as such, not only what it does but what it is, and the principles and values that it practices and professes”—an attitude, he warned, that lends support to the use of terror by Islamic fundamentalists. . . .One school holds that the war on terror reflects an underlying conflict between Islam and the West as civilizations.

      The second school holds that terrorists’ hostility is directed at “the principles and values” of the West. On this view, what they hate is not the West as a society or a civilization per se, but rather the culture of modernity.

    Check out Objectivist Center Position Statement. I don’t agree with some of it, but it seems to sum up what a lot of Americans think is the appropriate way to proceed in response to 9/11.

    Then again, there are those who don’t even believe that Osama is linked to 9/11. Go figure.

  • http://dirtgrain.com/weblog Jan Eggers

    I meant to indent all of the paragraphs after paragraph two and up to “Then again, there are those. . .” They are all direct quotations from “The War against Modernity.”

  • Eric Olsen

    I would say there is a relatively small percentage – total guess: 10-20% – who are hardcore Islamists, but there is a much larger percentage that wavers in the middle and can go with the wind, which is part of why the War on Terror, including Iraq, is so vital. The hardcore are beyond hope, but the waverers can be persuaded this reactionary course is not worth taking.

    Part 2 is far too general – probably 90% disapprove of our support of Israel. The best foreign policy direction we can take is to support freedom, democracy, and separation of church and state in the region, as Bush recently indicated our new policy would be.

    Any who are stupid enough to think we are “one of the greatest dangers to the world” aren’t worth worrying about, Noam.

  • William Carthon

    Brian and Brown:

    So if Iraq was a holy war to spread Christianity, what was the purpose of Bill Clinton’s Kosovo War? And why did Bill Clinton send cruise missile strikes against Iraq several times and against Afghanistan at least once or twice? Funny, when conservatives wage war it is evil, but when liberals wage war it is either to advance good or just plain didn’t happen. Muslims attack us because they hate our foreign policy. Right. They have been hating our foreign policy for centuries. We are all supposed to remember and feel guilty about the Christian crusades and forget all about how the Moors invaded Europe, completely laying waste to Spain and Italy and other places. And if they attack US because of OUR foreign policy, why are Muslims attacking EVERYBODY ELSE, including committing genocide and slavery in Africa, especially Sudan? What was the Sudanese foreign policy? People on the left want to blame western conservatives for the evils that everyone else has been doing since the beginning of civilization. I guess since they don’t do anything in our colleges anymore but advocate for “progressive social change” folks can get away with thinking that Muslims were killing and enslaving black Africans long before the white man ever set foot on that continent because they were angry at U.S. foreign policy.

  • http://dirtgrain.com/weblog Jan Eggers

    I know it’s simplistic, but we seem to be avoiding the obvious. Every war that I can think of came down to one root cause: money. Eric was right to point out that they are much worse off economically than we are. The conservative view would be that it’s survival of the fittest–get over it–quit crying about not winning and try to compete on this level playing field. The liberal view would be that it is not a level playing field, that US foreign policy (and the foreign policies of some other “winning” nations) is a cause of the economic disparities, and that the foreign policy uses force to maintain the unfair advantage on the playing field. I don’t think that we will overcome this difference of opinion.

  • http://www.slumdance.com/blogs/brian_flemming/ Brian Flemming
  • William Carthon

    Eric:

    “Great thinking! Now all we have to do is eliminate all those who disagree with us!”

    That isn’t what he was saying and you know it. Of course, lefties everywhere are doing all they can to try to put fascism into the mouths of Bush and his supporters. I read in the New York Times that some college professors were telling their students that Bush was going to suspend the 2004 elections. It is so funny to see people claim on television and in newspapers that their right to free speech and dissent against the government has been taken away while they are in the very process of dissenting and speaking freely against the government. It was almost as good as Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks complaining that President Bush should be standing up for her right to say what she pleases and not be criticized or boycotted in response. Freedom applies to me and others on the left, not everybody else! The new definition of fascism: when the left is criticized or ignored.

    How about this: we promise to pay as much attention to those who disagree with our views as those who disagree with our views pay attention to us. When you remember the consideration that Clinton, Reno, Gerhard Schroeder, Jacques Chirac, et al give (gave) the other side when they are holding the cards, you will realize that you will be getting an equal amount in turn which is nothing.

  • http://www.unproductivity.com Tom Johnson

    That poll also states that Israel is the biggest threat. It’s also a pretty generic poll – there’s no way to tell if people mean that Israel itself is a threat or if they think that there could be serious conflicts because of Israel – being at the center of a gigantic storm of controversy. The former is certainly not true, the latter could be true – but how can someone blame them for that? Sorry, but they’re fighting for their very existence. I think it’s perfectly acceptable for there to be conflicts stemming from that. And yes, the US will likely be there to back them up. Someone should be.

  • BrownBoognish

    “but they’re fighting for their very existence.”

    Yes, Israel is fighting for its existence. But so are the Iraqi holdouts targeting US forces in Iraq. Simply because the nation is fighting for its existence does not warrant US support. The palenstians, perhaps far more than Israel, are at risk of losing their homes and lives. Why should the United States support Israel, but not the Palestinians.