Sunday, December 6, 2015

What Christians Can Learn from Radical Islam

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As I write this, the United States is reeling from a horrific mass murder in San Bernardino, California in which 14 people were killed and 21 injured.  The perpetrators of this evil were a man and his wife who had become radicalized Muslims, the wife apparently having pledged allegiance on Facebook to the head of ISIS.  It seems that the couple were not personally connected to any other group and although they were inspired by ISIS, they committed this atrocity on their own.

This mass murder, tragically, is nothing new to America. Most other mass killings have been committed by those with deep emotional and mental problems, such as the Sandy Hook killing in which 20 young children were killed. But the Muslim couple in California were deeply religious, professing a devout belief in God as they viewed him. So how did this happen?

Many make the ignorant judgment that the cause is the Muslim religion itself. I label this an ignorant judgment from personal experience.  I live among thousands of Muslims in my neighborhood, a good majority of whom are Pakistani and Bangladesh immigrants. There are also a large number of Orthodox and Hasidic Jews in my neighborhood, along with many Christians and many other religions, including atheists. We all live peacefully together.

I never feel threatened in any way by the Muslims in my neighborhood. I know that like everyone else, they just want to live in peace and raise their families. In fact, the only time I have witnessed any kind of religious attack in my neighborhood was last year when some jerk was writing "Allah is evil" throughout the neighborhood and in the subway.

Anti-Muslim graffiti in my Brooklyn neighborhood
So what caused the young couple in California to turn against the people with whom they lived and worked? What caused them to kill and destroy? Were they just evil, hateful people? As I stated above, they were very religious, praying several times a day. They had a six month old baby whom they seem to have loved and treated very well. They made sure the baby was safe with her grandmother before they went on their killing spree. After the shooting, their relatives gave a news conference in which they expressed their shock and inability to explain the actions of this young couple. The head of the mosque they attended also expressed his shock and disbelief as well.

How does someone go from devout religious to murderer believing that he is serving God (John 16:2)?

In an interview on the plane recently returning to Rome from Africa, Pope Francis denounced religious fundamentalism, not just among Muslims but among Catholics and all other religions as well.  From Catholic News Agency:
We are all children of God. We have the same father. In this sense, we have to make politics of unity, reconciliation. A word that I don’t like, but I have to use it is “tolerance.” But, not only tolerance, co-existence, friendship. That’s how it is. Fundamentalism is a sickness that exists in all religions. We Catholics have some, not just some, so many, who believe they have the absolute truth and they move forward with calumnies, with defamation and they hurt (people), they hurt. And, I say this because it’s my Church, also us, all of us. It must be combatted. Religious fundamentalism isn’t religious. Why? Because God is lacking. It’s idolatrous, as money is idolatrous. Making politics in the sense of convincing these people who have this tendency is a politics that we religious leaders must make, but fundamentalism that ends up always in tragedy or in crime, in a bad thing comes about in all religions a little bit.
Source
What is the difference between fundamentalism and true devotion to God? As Pope Francis says in the statement above, "religious fundamentalism isn't religious. Why? Because God is lacking. It's idolatrous, as money is idolatrous." Fundamentalists are not just convinced that their beliefs are correct.  They are also completely convinced of their own personal righteousness. To the fundamentalist, the world is sharply divided between "us" and "them." Anyone who is not "us" is viewed as the enemy. All of those in the "them" camp are evil and must be rejected.  Fundamentalists believe that those who disagree with them have nothing of value or worth to offer. 

As Pope Francis has stated, fundamentalism is idolatry. Fundamentalists do not worship God. They worship and idolize their beliefs, practices and traditions.  It never enters their mind that they might be wrong in their understanding and application of the beliefs they profess.  They are basically convinced of their own infallibility, and do not see how they often hold contradictory beliefs.

For example, I find it really amazing that many Christians - and Catholics among them - will stand up against abortion and euthanasia, saying we must support the weakest among us. which of course is absolutely correct. At the same time, they will rail against allowing immigrants into the country, especially now rejecting Syrian immigrants, war refugees who are being murdered and driven out of their homeland by our common enemy, ISIS. These Christians feel that out of the many hundreds of thousands of people, there might be a small handful who are radical terrorists, even though no such terrorists have ever been found among the refugees, despite the totally unsubstantiated claims of ISIS to the contrary. Many try to say there was a Syrian refugee among the terrorists who attacked Paris, pointing to a Syrian passport. However, as a Washington Post article reported:
THE PASSPORT IS FAKE: Authorities in multiple countries are pretty certain that the passport, found near the body of an unidentified attacker who died during his suicide assault of France's national soccer stadium, is fake. It carried the name of "Ahmad Almohammad," a 25-year-old Syrian. French officials have indicated that Almohammad was a loyalist soldier in the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and died a few months ago.
The article went on to explain:
IDENTIFIED ASSAILANTS ARE E.U. NATIONALS: Although the Paris terror attacks appear to have been partially planned or coordinated by Islamic State operatives in the Middle East, all the identified assailants are so far citizens of European Union countries. This suggests that their radicalization was likely homegrown on the continent, and not imported via an exodus of beleaguered Syrian refugees.
Christians fundamentalists will never allow these facts to get in their way.  Muslims are the enemy and we can't trust any of them, not even a small boy whose body washed up on a beach after he drowned with his mother and brother trying to escape from ISIS:


These Christian fundamentalists who claim to love God will turn away people in desperate need if they feel their own physical safety may be at risk, whether these beliefs are validated or not.  By doing so, they give credence - right or wrong - to those who oppose them, claiming they care about babies who are yet to be born but will do nothing to help them once they are born.

Jesus Christ told us to pray for our enemies, to never stop loving them.  Certainly we can reject the erroneous thinking and beliefs of other people, but we can never, never reject them as human beings. Like the Good Samaritan, we must be there for anyone who needs our help.  As Jesus Christ said, whatsoever you do for the least of these my brethren, you do for me.


The reason Islamic extremists kill in the name of God has little to do with their Muslim beliefs.  As I said, I live among thousands of Muslims, and none of them have ever tried to kill me or harm me in any way.  It is fundamentalism - a belief in our own infallibility - that is driving the extremists we saw in California and Paris. It is true that most fundamentalists in other religions do not physically kill others as we see in Muslim extremists, but killing does not always involve physical murder.  As I John 3:15 tells us, "Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him."  And to turn away from those in need is to turn away from God Himself.

As Christians, we must never be self complacent.  We must be constantly questioning ourselves, examining our motives, asking God to reveal the true intentions of our hearts.  As I have written previously, as Catholics we can never question Christ or His Church, but we must constantly put our own hearts to the test.  Do we walk in faith, or do we demand that everything and everyone meet our human, limited, fallible standards and understanding?

Christ said He will judge us not based on how much we know, or how many rosaries we say or how much time we spend in Church, etc.  He will judge us on how much we love one another. As we are told, love covers a multitude of sins (I Peter 4:8).  Love is all that really matters.  As Pope Francis said, anything else ends in tragedy or crime.


27 comments:

  1. Nice try. No, that child did not drown trying to escape ISIS...the family was already settled in Turkey but dad wanted to go to Europe for better medical care and foolishly put his family on that boat.
    http://pamelageller.com/2015/09/story-told-by-father-of-drowned-toddler-aylan-kurdi-is-full-of-holes.html/

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    1. Yes, the family was in Turkey, but hardly "settled" there. Their applications for asylum had been rejected in at least one country - Canada. That doesn't change the fact that they were refugees, fleeing from ISIS.

      From the Wall Street Journal:

      "His name was Aylan. He was 3 years old, from war-torn Syria.

      His final journey was supposed to end in sanctuary in Europe; instead it claimed his life and highlighted the plight of desperate people caught in the gravest refugee crisis since World War II.

      "The images of the toddler’s lifeless body on a Turkish beach have reverberated across the globe, stirring public outrage and embarrassing political leaders as far away as Canada, where authorities had rejected an asylum application from the boy’s relatives.

      The child pictured facedown in red T-shirt and shorts was identified as Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian Kurd from Kobani, a town near the Turkish border that has witnessed months of heavy fighting between Islamic State and Syrian Kurdish forces.

      He drowned after the 15-foot boat ferrying him from the Turkish beach resort of Bodrum to the Greek island of Kos capsized shortly before dawn on Wednesday, killing 12 passengers. Aylan’s 5-year-old brother, Galip, and his mother, Rehan, were also among the dead. His father, Abdullah, was the only family member to survive."

      http://www.wsj.com/articles/image-of-syrian-boy-washed-up-on-beach-hits-hard-1441282847

      The reason this boy was not in his home in Syria is because he and his family were war refugees. Does that not touch your heart in any way?

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  2. You have completely lost your mind...sad.

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  3. You have completely lost your mind...sad.

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  4. Why in the world would Pewsitter link to this tripe?

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    1. You said it! I can't believe what I'm reading here!
      That photo using the poor dead little boy is unconscionable. And people fall for it. A picture is worth a thousand lies! I even read how they staged his little body! The true back story on that piece of agitprop is out there- but people do not want to believe the truth. They want to believe the PC narrative!

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  5. So let me get this straight: to be completely devoted to Christ makes one a bad person, so one should only love Him with half of one's heart?

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    1. I don't think you read the post. The problem with fundamentalism is that it doesn't really involve God at all. Fundamentalists trust in themselves and their own senses. They do not live by faith. Everything and everyone must agree with them. That is why Pope Francis said fundamentalism is idolatry.

      To truly love God with all your heart means to die to yourself. As the Apostle Paul said, "I die daily." (I Cor. 15:31). Jesus Christ told us we have to deny ourselves. Fundamentalism is all about affirming ourselves and what we believe. That is why they can kill you and think they do God a service. The "god" they serve is their own invention.

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  6. Had nothing to do with their Muslim beliefs? You obviously have not read the Koran which states to kill the unbeliever wherever you find him. The Muslims you know are very much like cafeteria Catholic's they pick and choose which parts of their faith they want to believe so they don't like all the parts in the Koran Which order them to kill. These two Killers were actually being very faithful Moslems you only have to look at 1400 years of history and the founder Mohammed himself Who spread his religion by the sword to know otherwise.

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    1. So you think that all Muslims should either convert or be killed? The Musjsms in my community seem to be very devout.

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  7. Excellent post. You know a fundamentalist when you see one but there are certain tip-offs like obsessing about the color blue as a liturgical color.

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  8. And didn't Jesus say he didn't come to bring peace to the world but the sword? Would you like it if Muslims used that one verse to condemn Chrisitanity?

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    1. Oh please, "He will slay them with the sword of truth from his mouth." Not an actual sword. "Put your sword back into it scabbard " was what he said to Peter. Those who live by the sword will die by the sword. Mohammed demanded the actual slaughter o what he said to Peter. Those who live by the sword will die by the sword. Mohammed demanded the actual slaughter one slave meant or enslavement of those Who would not submit which is what the word Islam literally means submit

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    2. Here is what the Catholic Church ACTUALLY teaches about muslims, Donald Trump, notwithstanding: "The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

      Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom."

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    3. They 'profess' to worship the same God as we do but as a whole they do not, even if they think they do. You always know the demonic by the inverse of the truth Jesus says greater love has no man than to lay down his life for a friend the demon allah basically says greater love has no man than to take lives in my name. Islam is evil I hate Islam but not Muslims hate the sin love the sinner

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    4. Could you cite the source of that passage on Moslims....sounds like it is from a synod??
      Thank you.

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    5. It is a document from the Second Vatican Council, Nostra Aetate,

      http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_nostra-aetate_en.html

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  9. "As I said, I live among thousands of Muslims, and none of them have ever tried to kill me or harm me in any way."

    Beliefs espoused by your Muslim neighbors are wholly irrelevant. Jihadists who commit acts of terror have about as much in common with less violent Muslims as Catholics and Presbyterians have in common with each other. Whether Islam is a religion of peace or war may depend a great deal on precisely which branch of Islam--possibly even which Imam--does the interpretation.
    Concerns about allowing Syrian refugees to come to our nation are quite legitimate because we have only very poor means of knowing what they ultimately intend. It's not a smart move to allow large numbers of people to come in, while insisting that they won't create a security threat. Being moved to anger or sadness by a pictures of people suffering does not mean that I agree to abandon any sense of ensuring our own security as a people.

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    1. And just how many terrorists have come into our country or any other with war refugees? So far, there have been no proven terrorists among the refugees.

      Makes no mistake - we are being judged by our Lord on our attitude towards these people. Are you willing to stand before God and say I coiuldn't help them because I couldnn't be sure of their motives? How do you think that will play with Jesus Christ.

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    2. CiB, *sighs*
      I have seen this sort of attitude before. I find it very worrisome. Essentially, this demands that we wait until we have a gun aimed at our temples before we admit that a particualr group of people pose a serious security risk.

      If you wish to argue that there have been no proven terrorists amongst the refugees, I wish to remind you that we had no proven terrorists among any other group of people either. We did not have proven actors for 9/11, the Ft Hood shooting, the Charlie Hebdo attack, the other Paris, the San Bernadino attack, nor even for the Boston Marathon bombing. In each of these cases, we ultimately learned that the assailants had backgrounds based in radical Islam. We would like to think that alleged refugees will have the best of intentions, but the facts of even recent history do want warrant making that an operational assumption.

      Our Lord will judge us equally harshly if we refuse to admit to the reality of the world situation.

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  10. Not letting in Christian refugees who face torture and murder but letting in muslims is distressing. And muslims who live and work with others for years are turning against the 'infidels'. Sorry, but they are the enemy.

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    1. And sadly, comments like yours and John's only reinforce the truth of my post. Do you think that refusing to help Muslims who are being tortured and killed by ISSA, which came into being as a result of the American invasion of Iraq, will bring Muslims over to the Americans or serve to instill a true hatred of us and radicalize even more?

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  11. This is crap post-conciliar, apologetic bulls#$%. It's this relativist propaganda that taints the hearts and minds of good and faithful Catholic "fundamentalists."

    If the saints and martyrs before Vatican II were fundamentalists, then count me amongst their company.

    Kyrie Eleison!

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  12. Off topic, Mary. Since I'm not posting your comments, just thought I'd leave this as a private message. Did you notice the quotes around "Who am I to judge?" Apparently not. Those were the pope's words, not mine. But if it convinces you to stay away from my blog -- Hurrah!

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    1. Yes, Mary Ann, I will most definitely stay away from your blog and leave you to your prejudices and condemnation of anyone who doesn't agree with you. I don't need close minded people who judge the world so harshly.

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  13. I have enjoyed your writing here very much, Catholic In Brooklyn, as well as your most recent comments over at Abbey Roads - I have been entirely speechless over the battling at both of these blogs: all I feel myself doing is shaking my head back and forth. Probably good I say nothing: Oh I heard a wise man say, 'shut up and go to Mass' and I look forward to it even more than usual, today.
    thanks for your blog - consolata - a few hugs: O O O

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  14. Catholic in Brooklyn, check out the following link:

    http://www.catholic.com/documents/endless-jihad-the-truth-about-islam-and-violence

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