Now, Religion in the News—a report and comment on religious trends and events being covered by the media. This week’s item is from the Bend [Oregon] Bulletin, May 5, 2003, with the headline: “Christians Condemn Graham Remarks, dateline Washington—In an unusual public rebuke, leading evangelical Christians condemned derogatory statements about Islam by the Reverend Franklin Graham and others among their fellow religious conservatives. The evangelicals meeting Wednesday said the derisive comment endangered Christian missionaries in the Muslim world, strained already tense interfaith relations, and fed the perception in the mid-East and beyond that the war on terrorism is a Christian crusade against Islam. ‘We must temper our speech,’ said the Reverend Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, which represents more than 43,000 congregations and helped organize the meeting.”
Tom: Dave, this is a product of our times. I have read, I would guess, most of the statements by leading evangelicals, from Pat Robertson to Jerry Falwell to, certainly, Franklin Graham, and others, and their initial comments if you just looked at them factually, historically, they are just telling the truth. And I don’t think, even within the context of what they were saying—there was a—oh, you could say maybe there was a little bit of arrogance here and there, but basically what they were saying was something that—you pick up any history book and look at Islam, look at Muhammad, read the Qu’ran, it’s all factual information that they presented. But it’s certainly not received that way.
Dave: Well, Tom, just a few phrases that stick in my mind here: ”We’ve got to temper our speech.” What does that mean—“temper our speech?” In other words, we’re going to shade the truth?
Tom: That’s usually the way it turns out.
Dave: That’s what they mean. “You have endangered missionaries.” Endangered missionaries? They are already in danger in Muslim countries! They are already killing them! They are killing Christians in Muslim countries. Do I need remind our listeners?
Tom: By the millions.
Dave: Well, they’ve killed a couple million in Southern Sudan; they are killing them by the thousands in Nigeria, Indonesia, and so forth.
Tom: Now the Philippines.
Dave: Now we are going to endanger by telling the truth? Furthermore, you are endangering the souls of Muslims for eternity by not telling them the truth! Then it talks about “straining interfaith relationships.” What! What do you mean, “interfaith relationships”? That’s an ecumenical term. Faith? No, faith in a false god, a false faith, faith that denies the truth—look, Islam says Jesus did not die for our sins. We were just talking about Jesus had to be God. Islam says He is not God, He’s not the Son of God. Allah is not the God of the Bible; Allah is not a father, he has no son—he has three daughters but no son. But we want to be nice—well, we do want to be nice, and the nicest thing, the kindest thing, you can do is tell people the truth. The god of Islam is not the true God; he couldn’t possibly be. So, Tom, this is incredible! The National Association of Evangelicals, and it says in the article, “43,000 congregations” they represent.
Tom: I would start a letter-writing campaign to these guys. If somebody truly believes in the Bible, truly loves the Lord, they shouldn’t let something like this go by, Dave.
Dave: And truly loves Muslims.
Tom: Yes, oh, absolutely.
Dave: Loves the truth.
Tom: Dave, I just want to…this thought just hit me. Jerry Falwell may have taken the most heat for something that he said, and he can be a little bit…
Dave: But then he backed down, Tom, unfortunately.
Tom: He did, but before he backed down, his statement was something that said that Islam is not a religion of peace. Now, do you know what happened after he said that? There were riots in India—not the Hindus but the Muslims in India! They rioted. There were deaths! Now, what about that? He says it’s not a religion of peace, and they riot to prove his point! But everybody says, “Oh, no, you’ve got to back away,” and he did—he backed off.
Dave: The Muslim says “This is a religion of peace, and if you disagree with me, I will kill you to prove it.”
Tom: Country after country, time and time again, that’s what takes place.
Dave: Right. John Ashcroft, our Attorney General, put it very succinctly. He said, “Islam is a religion in which God asks you to give your son to die for him. Christianity is a faith in which God sent his Son to die for you.” Now that’s very well put. That’s the truth. Ahh, but pressure from the Muslims—and you have a public office, and we have to be politically correct, and we don’t want to offend our constituents—I mean it might mean less votes next time around. So what do you know? Under pressure—and I think he’s a man of integrity, I like him, I think he’s a real Christian, from all I can see—nevertheless, under pressure he backed down and said, “Well, what I meant was, those 19 hijackers.”
Tom, that’s not right. We must speak the truth. We speak the truth in love, and if we really love someone, we speak the truth. And Jesus said, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.” This “politically correct” business—first of all, it doesn’t reflect very well on politics, does it? Politically correct means to be a politician, to get the votes, you’ve got to shade the truth, you’ve got to compromise. This is a tragedy, but that it would come into the church and the church would say—Well, Robert Schuller has said it, you know. Robert Schuller even preached in a mosque and the head of the mosque, the Mufti, held his hand and Schuller said, “I never felt such oneness of the spirit with anyone in my life—this is a great man of God.” Well, the god he believes in is a false god, and Islam denies the truth of the Word of God, denies the gospel. But we wouldn’t want to offend anybody, we just let them go to hell and not tell them the truth. And I’m sorry—I get a little bit angry about this, and not only with others, but may God deliver me from making such compromises at the expense of truth and at the expense of eternal destinies of souls.