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Disinviting Islam: Part III--Christian Charity

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Is there something un-Christian about the idea of disinviting Islam here in America? Are we not, as Christians, supposed to desire to help people? Josh McDowell, who produced a "Sharia Love" Youtube video snarkily criticizing the Acts 17 missionaries for getting arrested in Dearborn, can be fairly said to exult in the fact that Dearborn is a Muslim enclave. Now, McDowell says, we can be foreign missionaries without going outside of the United States. Having turned part of the United States into a foreign country, we can go and be missionaries there quite easily. (Listen to the radio interview.)

Even if McDowell's way of putting things (including his love of sharia) seems to be going too far, it still might be argued that stopping Muslim immigration and other similar proposals, such as those in Part II, evince a lack of charity toward our Muslim fellow men. Interestingly, the missionaries McDowell was criticizing are also resistant to the idea of keeping Muslims out of America. (See my discussion with David Wood here by searching for my name in the comments.) It seems that it is difficult for those Christians who have the deepest heart for helping Muslims and reaching Muslims to agree that America should have fewer of them, and it might seem that this should make other Christians stop and think twice about proposals to disinvite Islam.

There is no point in denying the fact that there is a tension here between two things--1) the desire in the short term (more on that below) to preach the Gospel to as many Muslims as possible, to give, in the short term, as many Muslim women as possible the opportunity to seek freedom from evils such as beating and FGM, and to give, in the short term, as many Muslim children as possible an opportunity to witness what is good in American life and possibly to choose to break free from Islam as they grow older and 2) the desire to protect Americans from Muslim violence and to protect American culture from Muslim invasion and negative change.

This tension gives rise to reticences on the part of some and somewhat jarring statements on the part of others even within the anti-Islamist blogosphere. Lawrence Auster has noted on numerous occasions Pamela Geller's agonized concern for female victims of honor killings and argues that Geller and sometimes also Robert Spencer seem at least as much concerned with protecting Muslims from Muslims as they are with protecting American non-Muslims from Muslims and American culture from Islamicization. And it is at least true that Geller and Spencer have a great deal to say about stonings and honor killings and relatively little to say about stopping Muslim immigration.

On the other hand, there is something to disagree with in Auster's claim that if we are truly concerned about women slaughtered in honor killings we should want them not to come to America, since in America they are more likely to try to disobey their male family members and violate Islamic norms, thus raising the odds of their being killed. This line of reasoning is problematic not only because honor killings occur in Muslim countries anyway but also because there is something quite dubious about the thesis that a woman is overall better off submitting herself resignedly to a life of oppression and mistreatment elsewhere (and, yes, she would plausibly be mistreated even if she stayed in a Muslim country) than making a bid for some measure of legitimate freedom in America.

The teenage Christian converts Rifqa Bary and Negeen Mayel no doubt prefer the opportunity they've had to become Christians and Americans, despite the dangers they have incurred, over an uninterrupted life coping with their lot as best they can as Muslim women in their countries of origin.

There is, then, no question that many former Muslims are better off as a result of Muslim immigration and even that many who still consider themselves Muslims are also better off, sometimes materially and sometimes in terms of loosening their mental and cultural ties to a harmful ideology. So the fact that they were invited here has helped such people, and if we disinvite Islam we must be willing to face the fact that this will probably mean that there will be people who would have benefited by coming to America or staying in America, perhaps even those who would have benefited spiritually, who will not receive that benefit.

It is, indeed, a natural concomitant of a rejection of cultural relativism and a real belief that our culture is in specific and measurable ways superior to Muslim cultures to think that people will be better off if they leave Muslim lands and come here. And this is especially true when it comes to those who are harmed and oppressed by Muslim culture and who may have the opportunity to escape their mistreatment here. It is also a natural concomitant of the belief that Christianity is objectively true to want as many Muslims as possible to have the opportunity to hear about it, to meet and converse with Christians, and to receive Christ, which at least seems on the face of it to be a goal well-served by having many Muslims in America.

Why, then, is disinviting Islam not contrary to Christian charity?

A point not often considered is one I owe to my colleague Jeff Culbreath: Our first duty of love is love for God. By continuing to bring Muslims into America and by accommodating Islam in America, what we facilitate most of all is not Muslim conversions but rather the spread of Islam. This should be a simple matter to see, but too often missions-minded people are unable to see the forest for the trees. Most Muslims in America won't convert to Christianity. The net effect of on-going Muslim immigration and accommodation is the increased presence and influence of Islam in America, not the spread of Christianity.

If we are concerned for God's honor, God's glory, and God's people, this should be a matter of concern. By maintaining an open door for Islam, we are permitting the spread of blasphemies against God, persecution of Christians, and conversions to Islam (that conversion thing can go both ways, especially when American schools eagerly cooperate).

When Christians engage in actual foreign missions, one of their goals should be to convert enough people to produce a noticeable Christian presence in the country. Another goal should be to oppose the persecution of Christians. The Islamicization of America moves us away from these normal goals of Christians missions. It is yet another front in the de-Christianization of America.

A second set of considerations concerns our primary duties to our own families and neighbors. This is the kind of point that is often characterized as selfishness, but it remains true nonetheless: Christians in, say, Portland, Oregon have a greater duty to fellow Oregonians who might be blown up by a Somali terrorist than they have to people in Somalia who want to come and live in Oregon. It is wrong deliberately to subject our fellow Americans to increased risk to their lives because we want to be kind to people from other countries by inviting them here. By the same token, it is wrong to subject Americans to the horrible treatment the TSA is now meting out in order to maintain a "diverse" society; yet that horrible treatment is a direct consequence of that diversity.

Another point perhaps not sufficiently appreciated, since it does not fall neatly into "left" and "right" categories is this: We can at least reduce the probability that we will need to make war on other countries if we reduce the probability of Islamic terrorism on our own soil. I am no pacifist and will not claim that military action in response to terrorism is wrong, though I have real doubts about the value of nation-building. But we will not need to go there if we don't have foreign-sponsored terrorist acts happening in America in the first place. It is therefore an act of charity toward the innocents living in countries that tend to breed terrorism if we can avoid war with those countries with its attendant collateral damage.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we need to realize this: We are not being charitable to the kinds of people we wish to help if we ruin our country in the long run. To destroy a country, a company, a civilization, a city that is doing good is uncharitable towards those it would otherwise have been able to help--yes, even towards outsiders.

Consider what America used to be able to do, what we are becoming less able to do, and what we may not be able to do at all if we continue on our present course:

1) We have previously been able to provide a haven for converts from Islam and other Christians fleeing persecution in their own lands. The more of a Muslim presence we have in the United States, the less of a haven we are. With more Muslims in the United States, apostates from Islam to Christianity have to worry more seriously that they will be sought out and killed here, not only in their countries of origin. Converts have to worry about being killed not only by members of their own immediate families but by members of their extended families, members of their local Muslim communities, and Muslims from other parts of the country who will take to heart the "need" to punish them. (For example, Muslim threats against Rifqa Bary were posted on a Facebook page.)

And of course the more we pass laws, at Muslim instigation, punishing criticism of Islam, the more our government will become a persecutor itself. See here for a story of a Christian convert who fled persecution in Pakistan only to be persecuted for years by the authorities in Australia.

It is therefore uncharitable to Christian converts who need a haven from persecution to continue the Islamicization of America.

2) When Muslims are not able to form enclaves resistant to outside scrutiny and influences, we are better able to do our duty in charity to Muslim women and, especially, children who are vulnerable to abuses. The more we permit such enclaves, the harder it is to enforce our own laws and to protect such vulnerable people. As I pointed out in the first article in this series, there are already reports in England of social services workers who betray women to their abusive families. Thus, in the name of helping some Muslims in the short run by allowing them to enter the country, a Western country may ruin or at least seriously damage its own ability to help any vulnerable Muslims within its borders in the long run. This is not charitable.

3) It is our duty in charity to Muslims to keep our country a place where Islam can be freely criticized and where the Gospel can be freely preached. It is a very great irony that in the name of evangelism we should be welcoming ever-more Muslims within our country, thus over the long run (and, as readers of W4 know, the signs are already here) making evangelism of Muslims more and more difficult! If Islam is not criticized, it is more difficult for Muslims who might convert to Christianity to see the problems with it. (And if they have no assurance of protection from their fellow Muslims, they are also less likely to convert.)

Interestingly, in my discussion with David Wood mentioned above, he placed great stress on the importance of criticizing Islam, of showing Muslims themselves the faults of their religion. His hope is that this free exchange of ideas will bear fruit in conversions. That, of course, is the hope of every Christian who loves Muslims. What needs to be recognized vividly is the way in which on-going Islamicization makes such free exchange less and less likely.

Europe already has direct anti-hate-speech laws against criticizing Islam which plenty of American liberals would love to bring here, laws under which Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff is presently being prosecuted. It would be absurd to pretend that the Muslim presence in Europe has nothing to do with either the passage or the enforcement of such laws.

And as David Wood's own experience shows and as I pointed out to him, the existence of Muslim enclaves in America suppresses evangelism through the mechanism of law enforcement and police discretion, using vague laws allowing police to disperse crowds, making it illegal to "disobey the order of a police officer," and the like.

It is thus not helpful to but rather contrary to the charity of evangelism to keep an open door for Islam and to continue to accommodate it in America as if it were just any other religion.

What all this amounts to is a point that conservatives tend to recognize in other areas: Conservatives know, for example, that if you take all the money from the rich and give it to the poor, if you nationalize all the industries of a country, you simply destroy. The few who are helped in the very short run by receiving some sort of windfall will be hurt in the long run or even in the medium run by the destruction of the country's prosperity and material well-being. If, to take another example, you say, "We have a wonderful city here. Let's invite all of the nation's homeless people to enjoy our streets," you don't have a wonderful city when you are done, and the homeless who come then will exchange one slum for another.

Common sense applies to the open door, "welcome mat" policy we have had toward Islam just as it applies elsewhere.

Moreover, the fact that we are already having difficulties carrying out our duties of charity in the above areas should show the reasonableness of attempting to reverse the influence Islam has already achieved in the United States. This goal can be aided by inducing non-citizen Muslims to leave and by making it clear to all Muslims in the United States that their religion is no longer going to be accommodated here in the vast number of ways that it is already being accommodated. The exact proposals that different people are willing to endorse for that purpose will vary, and that discussion should continue in the other thread. But that we, specifically as Christians who love our fellow men, must have that discussion, should not be in doubt.

Indeed, charity demands no less.

Comments (40)

Another point perhaps not sufficiently appreciated, since it does not fall neatly into "left" and "right" categories is this: We can at least reduce the probability that we will need to make war on other countries if we reduce the probability of Islamic terrorism on our own soil. I am no pacifist and will not claim that military action in response to terrorism is wrong, though I have real doubts about the value of nation-building. But we will not need to go there if we don't have foreign-sponsored terrorist acts happening in America in the first place. It is therefore an act of charity toward the innocents living in countries that tend to breed terrorism if we can avoid war with those countries with its attendant collateral damage.

Indeed. In fact, I think this is the best way out of the endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The stronger the wall between Islam and America, the less concerned we can be about the internal activities of Islamic countries, perhaps reducing our involvement to a leadership role in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to these nations -- backed up by periodic, focused, brief and effective military action when absolutely necessary.

I think the best hope for Christian charity is not to make America safe for evangelization but to make the Islamic world safe for Christian evangelization, by weakening it through political and when possible economic isolation, rather than seeking to strengthen it through engagement.

Lydia,

A great conclusion to a wonderful series. As you know, my own concerns related to Christian charity and what I might mischeviously characterize as my neo-con belief in our superior culture have to do with the Muslim-Americans already here, not the non-citizen immigrants or future immigrants.

Jeff C. gave what I think is the most powerful example of what you talk about above as common sense conservativism related to the danger of letting charity destroy the very thing you want others to enjoy: France. That once proud, republican country that prides itself on its secular state has turned over whole neighborhoods to Muslim radicals because they didn't have the sense to stand up and say no more to the Muslims knocking on their door. And as Jeff C. and you btoh discus in Part II, it didn't take more than 6 to 10 percent of the population to wreak havoc to certain neighborhoods:

http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2010/12/disinviting_islam_part_ii_prop.html#comment-155759

Anyway, I'll go rejoin the lively conversation over in Part II and let me just say that I couldn't agree more with your ringing concluding paragraph!

Lydia's analysis is lucid and persuasive but:

Proposals to disinvite Islam to the United States would not receive the support of the Roman Catholic Church. On the contrary, and perhaps regrettably, none of the WWWW proposals could, in the official Catholic view, be reconciled with the obligations of Christian charity.

There are a number of articles in the Zenit archive which can be studied by any skeptic who wants to understand the "view from Rome" on charitable relations with Islam.

Thanks, Lydia.

Alex,
Christian charity does not prevent you from protecting your family, your community, your church, and your country from moral erosion, and perhaps even slaughter, at the hands of anti-Christian forces. It requires it.

It is thus not helpful to but rather contrary to the charity of evangelism to keep an open door for Islam and to continue to accommodate it in America as if it were just any other religion.

It is also contrary to common sense, unnatural, indeed immoral not to discriminate against a religion which is utterly evil.

What is it to disinvite?

To speak in terms of disinviting is to speak of inviting.
Inviting.

When you invite, it is assumed that you invite someone
out of something. But out of where? If a person is not
invited does it mean they are "out there"? Obviously
to invoke "out there" means they are excluded. But that
they are also insane. Like they are "far out" "there".
So when you invite, you invite them to leave their insanity
and alienation.

When you disinvite you are clearly taking away their invite
and leaving them "out" there. "Out" of the closet? That
is to be alienated.

Also look at the word "disinvite".
Technically the word "dis" is involved. The American word
"Diss" is to "disrespect" someone. To "disinvite" is to
"diss" someone and leave them "out" "there" (as a person
who has come out of the closet yet is alienated and not identified).
This assumes the oppressive metaphysics
of presence to assume that "they" are "out"side of presence
and have no invitation. Meaning no home.

This is clearly a dialectical error.

Jacques, mon vieux:

If you'll send in the notes I will try to play it on my ukelele.

Let's all join in not feeding the troll.

Please, do not mention my mother.
You can mention, or do anything to, or with your own mother, but once again, do not mention mine.

Ms. McGrew, could I ask you to please delete the cretinous "comment" from the adolescent punk signed as T. Hanski's Mother? Thank you.

Poof. It was already gone.

I am confused. T. Hanski is thumping his chest about how we should discriminate against Islam. Then someone mentions his mom and he begins to cry and insult someone else's mother? T. Hanski's attitude seems common of the Right Wing - Fake Tough Guys that meltdown when you sniff out their insecurities.

I also believe this is where the Right Wing would remind us that we should "man up" and not care about naysayers. Where was this on display, T. Hanski?

Don't know why this thread is getting trolled just now, but let this be a warning: Whoever you are, you keep threadjacking my thread, and your comments will be systematically junked. At least.

You mentioned Auster's criticism of Robert Spencer and others for talking about how bad Islam in America is but not emphasizing specific actions to take. I'd like to defend Spencer's rhetoric here. If you say, "Islam is a serious threat for the reasons given in Part 1 of this series, and therefore we need to do what's described in Part 2", then you're going to drive some people away from both Part 2 and Part 1. Maybe that's not so obvious here, with a separation of a day or so between the two parts, but it's true if you discuss it together at the same time.

The way mainstream people hear these arguments is often the way you'd hear an argument like, "The Muslim presence in America causes lots of problems (Part I), therefore we need to send them all to the gas chambers." You've even seen that in some of the comments. When people hear proposals that sound so extreme to them, they tend to reject the person making the argument (a racist and Islamophobe) and everything that he's saying. That's why it's sometimes better rhetorically to describe the problem first without offering a specific solution. Most Americans don't appreciate the severity of the problem, at least not from your point of view. Once people are persuaded that the problem is as severe as you say, then they'll be ready to listen to solutions.

I think there's room for both kinds of rhetoric, aimed at different audiences.

Alex, you wrote:

Proposals to disinvite Islam to the United States would not receive the support of the Roman Catholic Church. On the contrary, and perhaps regrettably, none of the WWWW proposals could, in the official Catholic view, be reconciled with the obligations of Christian charity.

It is likely that there would be conflict with the hierarchy, possibly all the way to the top, but I doubt there would be anything more than fuming. There would be no excommunications or anything like that. The situation might be analagous to the Cristeros of Mexico, who fought their battles for the Church but, tragically, without the political support of the Church, which tried to keep political tensions with the masonic regime at a minimum. I don't recall any ecclesiastical discipline against Lebanese politicians for their support of Catholic militias in the 1980s (someone please correct me if I'm wrong), and they went far, far beyond anything we're proposing here.

Rome is justifiably worried about the global situation. When one country takes measures against Islamization, however mild, what happens to the Christians in Mohammaden lands? Riots, killing, rape, torture, church burnings, etc.. In a geo-political sense Rome's hands are all but tied. But each nation must act according to its responsibilities.

Jeff, you might be correct in supposing that the hierarchy would do nothing more than fume for a while. I would hope so. But that might be wishful thinking.

What many secular enemies (of Catholicism) don't appreciate is that the View from Rome on many questions of social philosophy, is highly liberal and "progressive". The problems of integrating Muslim and other immigrants- including illegal immigrants - tend to get sympathetic solutions from the RCC.

I fear this Catholic liberal effect on the fraction of American public opinion that's susceptible to it.

Alex, we have the protection of Catholic doctrine and history, which restrains even the most liberal bishops in terms of discipline, to their eternal frustration. They dance around it, ignore it, and undermine it the best they can, but they seldom get away with directly and publicly contradicting it.

"All who rule, therefore, would hold in honour the holy name of God, and one of their chief duties must be to favour religion, to protect it, to shield it under the credit and sanction of the laws, and neither to organize nor enact any measure that may compromise its safety."

- Pope Leo XIII, Immortale Dei, on the sacred duty of the state. Governments have no right to compromise the absolute safety and security of the religion of Jesus Christ, and every obligation to guard and defend it. What is more, the religious indifferentism that permits the promulgation of Islam is magisterially condemned by Pope Gregory XVI in Mirari Vos:

"This shameful font of indifferentism gives rise to that absurd and erroneous proposition which claims that liberty of conscience must be maintained for everyone. It spreads ruin in sacred and civil affairs, though some repeat over and over again with the greatest impudence that some advantage accrues to religion from it ... Experience shows, even from earliest times, that cities renowned for wealth, dominion, and glory perished as a result of this single evil, namely immoderate freedom of opinion, license of free speech, and desire for novelty.

Here We must include that harmful and never sufficiently denounced freedom to publish any writings whatever and disseminate them to the people, which some dare to demand and promote with so great a clamor. We are horrified to see what monstrous doctrines and prodigious errors are disseminated far and wide in countless books, pamphlets, and other writings which, though small in weight, are very great in malice. We are in tears at the abuse which proceeds from them over the face of the earth. Some are so carried away that they contentiously assert that the flock of errors arising from them is sufficiently compensated by the publication of some book which defends religion and truth. Every law condemns deliberately doing evil simply because there is some hope that good may result. Is there any sane man who would say poison ought to be distributed, sold publicly, stored, and even drunk because some antidote is available and those who use it may be snatched from death again and again?

The Church has always taken action to destroy the plague of bad books. This was true even in apostolic times for we read that the apostles themselves burned a large number of books."


Not sure if this has been posted yet but I think it adds to the discussion. When a majority of a European Parliament applaud in this video it reminds me of Frodo seeing the star on that dark night on the Mordor plain.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThQ61K04Sbo

Sorry Jeff I feel foolish, I just noticed you made a dedicated post of the MP's speech. Keep the second sentence :)

I am confused.

No, you are not confused. You are born cretin.

Instead of "manhood training", a hopeless task if you are not man and superfluous if you are one, you should change your moniker to "natural idiot".
Or perhaps you shouldn't after all - as the former indicates the latter rather convincingly.

Poof. It was already gone.

Thank you, Lydia

To Moderators:

Please remove comments by Manhood Training and T. Hanski as both are obviously trolls that are contributing nothing but childish insults to this thread. Let's stay on topic.


Thank you.

Lydia, your comments that disinviting Islam is an act of charity is spot on. It's foolish to allow a group of people who hate everything outside their backward culture to come inmass into the USA. The religious and secular leaders of this country who have allowed or even encouraged this have forgoten the wisdom of this saying: Never underestimate the power of stupidity in large groups. Historically, Muslims have behaved like robots because their religion, like Calvinism, preaches against the idea of free will. Everything is up to Allah, everything is decreed by Allah. If people don't believe in free will, how can they take responsibility for their actions and develop a strong sense of right and wrong in their souls? They can't! Also, the historical interpetation of the Quran prevents free inquiry and critical thought from developing in the Islamic culture. Allowing mass immigration of a group who are prevented by their religion and culture from thinking critically will have serious ramifications for the future of our country. Since all adults, unless convicted of a crime, have the right to vote, do you think that these folks could vote in a manner that could benefit the rest of us? Nope, they would vote in mass against all of our polictical and religious traditions that we have in this country. They'll riot, just as they do in France and other parts of the West when they can't get their own way. So, lets get wise and give them the boot before this sort of thing comes to pass.

Jeff:

Encyclicals are not, as you know, ex cathedra pronouncements on faith or morals. They give advice and guidance, or express an opinion about temporal matters. Such advice etc., is influenced by the intellectual climate of the day.

It is most unlikely that the counsel in either Immortale Dei or Mirari Vos would be addressed to a modern Catholic audience. These are nineteenth century documents conditioned by social and political assumptions which are no longer widely shared. What used to be wise and prudent perceptions are now contested and controversial. The spirit of the age is different now.

As Kenneth Minogue observed, "We are living in the Epoch of Liberalism. Whatever aspect of modern society you choose to examine, whether education, politics, law, religion, history, the media, the arts, etc., it will be thoroughly infiltrated and even dominated by liberal opinion. Liberal opinions and rhetoric are both the highest common factor and the lowest common multiple of public discourse. Without liberal currency it is almost impossible to buy into the circulation of ideas at the present time."

Not even the college of cardinals or the pope himself are impervious to the siren songs of the hour.

Alex:

How does one deal with living in the "Epoch of Liberalism"?
Is this an instance where the Church ought to remove themselves
from culture, create a sub-culture or try and recover the cultural
landscape? How can future pops safeguard themselvse against the
culture's siren songs?

P.S. I second the deleting of comments by Manhood and T. Hanski.
They are derailing an otherwise good thread.

I deleted one of them and issued a warning. I urge everyone not to feed a troll. I think (hope) it can be considered water under the bridge at this point.

Lydia

Water under the Troll's bridge...was that a deliberate pun?

Graham

Sad to say, Graham, I fear most people are unfamiliar with "The Three Billy Goats Gruff." I have to admit it was unintentional.

Hope this is on-topic. Real-world problem. I just graded three quizzes from three people who sat next to each other and they are identical up to and including the exact same off-the-wall computational techniques with same wrong answers on all five problems, word-for-word. It is clear to me that they cheated. They are all Islamic students. If I take them to academic misconduct and they are suspended will they be beaten by their husbands? One quiz is dropped, so they will get a zero for this one, but it seems that Christian charity and righteousness are at odds because even though they cheated, their husbands could make the punishment worse than the crime. How does Christian dharity work in this case? The possibility of violence means I can't do my job. I may give them a zero and a private lecture, but I don't know what is best. I did not catch them in the act. The quizzes are circumstantial, but very strong evidence. Any suggestion? Ignore if too off-topic.

The Chicken

MC, I assume this is a first offense? I'd give the zero, talk to them privately, warn them not to sit next to each other when taking exams/quizzes in future and let it go -- with prayer that they take the hint. If they don't, then it seems to me it is not your responsibility to be concerned with their private lives; you don't actually know what they are like. It might make no difference at all for them at home, and by doing nothing you will have taught them they can get away with cheating just because they are women or Muslim or whatever reason they think you have done so. (This is what I do with a first offense on in-class cheating in any case, just so you know.)

Lydia

Perhaps Disney will make it into a Movie?

The story that is, not the pun...

Graham

Lydia

Partly because I'm a cussed character who like playing devil's advocate, and partly because I genuinely don't agree with much of Jeff Culbreath's articles, I jotted down the following. I hope you don't mind (and I know that you disagree with Mr Culbreath on some points).

1) I hope that the concerns that you have expressed on this thread are read by anyone responding to the proposals in "Disinviting Islam". These are rational concerns, motivated by compassion for one's neighbour. Western democracy faces a terrible and unprecedented problem - an enemy without a conscience is embedded in our society. I don't claim to have any answers.
(I am also sick of seeing you and your co-writers demonised.)

However, I'm not convinced by "Disinviting Islam". Although I'd like to read over a lot of old notes before I'd defend my response in detail, my initial reaction is negative. Basically, I'm concerned that "Islam" is an unhelpful reference class.

2) As a British "Old Labour" type, I was reading Ziauddin Sardar long before the war on terror. He was critiquing Muslim terrorists and imperialists as a Muslim long before 9/11. The work of the quilliam foundation, and Ed Husain in particular, points to an articulate Muslim community that seems at peace with a secular society. They point out that they are merely returning to the "quietist" tradition that they were brought up with.
3) Husain had had been taught by his father that Islam and politics don't mix. And in fact there does seem to be a quietist tradition in Islam, especially in communities influenced by Sufi teaching. Whether or not this quietist tradition is true to Muhammad's original teachings is of interest to the apologist. But it does not seem relevant to public policy. Perhaps secularised or quietist Muslims have it all wrong. Perhaps they've sold out. From the perspective of public policy - who cares? When it comes to public policy, the only question that seems relevant is "can we do business?" (which demands that we both behave in a way that allows us to do business).
4) Whether or not Islam's history, or Muhammad's teaching on jihad creates a narrative that will inevitably to violent conflict seems to be the key question. Answering it will depend on examining conflicts between Muslim and non-Muslim nations, and asking whether or not similar conflicts would have taken place anyway, even in the absence of Islam. (For example, we may not have had the Crusades. But we may well have had conflict between European and Asian societies in any case.)
We would also need to pay close attention to the many ways that Muslim's have interpreted and interpret the Quran, the Hadith and the rulings of the juristic schools. We cannot assume that these sources will be interpreted in a way that we find rational. (Islamic hermeneutics seems very odd - perhaps because they don't treat the Quran as an historic text?)
So to argue convincingly that Islamic communities are essentially violent and imperialist, and will probably revert to type, would demand that we immerse ourselves in a wide range of primary sources, and familiarise ourselves with the secondary sources. It's a bold historical thesis on the table, to say the very least.
4)For example, when Muslim's conquered India they re-interpreted "the people of the book" to include Hindus. But this is not at all what the term meant - apparently it should have excluded Hindus altogether on any reasonable reading.
My point here has nothing to do with Islam and tolerance - yes, "they" were invading India, yes "they" were merely granting "dhimmi" status. But here is one example of Islam re-inventing a key teaching in the face of a hard political reality. Phillip Jenkins, for example, argues that most Muslim communities in Europe will be forced to adapt to many Western norms. And I can't see why this couldn't happen.
5) Also, it does seem that if you want to profile effectively you will need to focus on factors like ethnicity , age, and education as well as religious affiliation. Terms like "liberal/moderate" are not helpful to anyone except Western journalists. Yet "Islam/Muslim" catches too many groups that are not a danger (The quilliam Foundation, for example, might be a little platitudinous and boring - but we can forgive them for that surely?)
6) Islam also fails to capture an anti-Westernism, or Occidentalism, that motivates Islamic terrorists. It also conflates too many problems into too neat a category. I might be horrified by Muhammad Iqbal's vision of an Islamic Democracy. But he was not motivated to launch an attack on the "godless". Something else is at work in Al Quaeda. My reading of the situation is based on Buruma and Margalit's "Occidentalism" and Meic Pearse's "Why the Rest Hates the West" and "The Gods of War". 7) 'Disinviting Islam' will reinforce this particular view of America abroad, and this is a very dangerous path to take. America has not the man power to impose it's will by military means (the technological advantages that evened the odds against communist powers man power mean very little in low intensity warfare). And America's financial clout seems to be on the wane.
8) I wonder what happens when the proposals in part II are not taken up by America's 7 million Muslims. When students try to re-enter the class room or refuse to return home; when publishers refuse to translate pamphlets from Arabic into English; when employees continue to take breaks for prayer; and when public employees refuse to take oaths.
To be honest, I had to blink twice, and check that the word realistic was being used to describe these proposals. But there it is in black and white. Realistic in what sense? Which party is going to put these proposals on their manifesto? Realistically, how would America's European and Arab allies react? Realistically, can America afford to lose these allies?
9) I also wonder what effect this would have on persecuted Christian communities in Islamic countries. Realistically, we know that radicals abroad will portray this as a prelude to a Holocaust. Of course it's nothing of the kind. But that is how it will be presented. It is obvious what would follow if laws like these were passed.


That's not terribly coherent response on my part, and no offence is intended. I think that your concerns are entirely rational and moral. I'm not sure that Mr Culbreath's response is just and practical, but I imagine that he's given this much more thought than I have, and that his aim is to be just. I hope that I've provided one or two points worth mulling over, if only by accident.

Graham

Carlos asks: "How does one deal with living in the "Epoch of Liberalism"? Is this an instance where the Church ought to remove themselvesIs this an instance where the Church ought to remove themselvesfrom culture, create a sub-culture or try and recover the cultural landscape?"

I don't think any religious, social, or political institution can "remove themselves from culture". Among other things, a culture consists of an intellectual consensus that conditions the behaviour of almost everyone on the inside. The church might fight a rearguard action against some of the more egregious aspects of modern decadence etc. But as George Orwell noted, a dissenting party seems bound to lose because at any given moment there is a dominant orthodoxy of ideas which it's assumed all right-thinking people will accept without question. Dissenters from the liberal consensus risk becoming social pariahs.

These considerations, among others, lead me to conclude that although Lydia and Jeff make a very creditable case for them, these proposals will not fly. Indeed they cannot fly because they are maverick proposals that will not be endorsed by so-called right-thinking people in the institutions that shape the cultural landscape.

Alex, I don't know if you're Catholic, but an encyclical is a very high level magisterial document and its underlying theological principles are not to be questioned, even though their applications may change depending on circumstance. So, although banning books (to give an easy example) might be imprudent and counter-productive in some modern contexts, no Catholic can say that men have an absolute right to print whatever they want to print or read whatever they want to read, or that it is always immoral for governments to interfere with "freedom of speech" or "freedom of the press". Another example is that of the just war. Catholic states have sometimes found themselves at war with each other, causing great scandal, but the Church generally leaves these prudential decisions to princes, their consciences, and their confessors.

Also, it can happen that the Church hierarchy itself is wrong in its applications and judgments. The Church acknowledges this today and declares that certain past practices (e.g., the use of torture), once tolerated and even encouraged by some churchmen, were at least grave prudential errors in light of divine revelation. Likewise, due to the ubiquity of modernist thought in society, it is probable that some practices tolerated in the Church today (e.g., liturgical nuttiness), though widespread, are not sound applications of Catholic doctrine. So we have to distinguish between doctrine and its application.

I am confident that the measures recommended in Part-II do not violate Catholic doctrine in any sense, and even further, that they are much more consistent with Catholic doctrine than current practices. It's impossible for me to imagine any politician or official being excommunicated or disciplined for advocating these. Today, for example, although most bishops in the West frown on things like capital punishment or restrictive immigration policies, and even try to make a theological case for their views, Catholics are still free to disagree and no one is punished for dissenting from the mainstream view. Ostracized and harassed, perhaps, but not canonically censured or disciplined.

However, you are correct in that many good Catholics will listen first to the hierarchy on these matters. I have admitted that, in the current climate, these are long-shot proposals. I myself have sometimes resisted certain good ideas, only coming around to them after the answer becomes obvious and enough time has passed to erode my proud intransigence. Such is human nature. But things can also change quickly. Sometimes it takes the experience of stone-cold reality rather than arguments.

On reflection, it appears to me that the proposed restriction on immigration is an inadequate and possibly counterproductive measure.

We know that those Muslims already resident here, or many of them, have but tenuous ties of loyalty to the United States and strong tendencies to sanction violent actions. They also have astigmatic perceptions of American values. Hence were immigration to be restricted, it might well be that the in their benighted way yet more Muslims would determine that terrorist activities are justified.

Further, we also know that Muslims already resident here are disproportionately inclined to commit terrorist acts.

Finally, we also know that they are disproportionately inclined to commit crimes such as so-called honor killings, genital mutilation, and other requirements of their faith.

Hence it would seem half measures--restrictions on new entrants--would do more harm than good. It would be much more effective and appropriate to the worthlessness of the Islamic faith and the perniciousness of its doctrines to deport all resident Muslims.

"A modest proposal"? Is that the 'joke'?

Jeff:

You are correct of course in saying that an encyclical will not modify any fundamental theological principles. But in communicating Catholic teaching on transient social developments or even "permanent" scientific understandings, an encyclical will be influenced by secular opinion. Catholicism is not insensible to the current liberal consensus. How else can we explain the notorious liberalism of the Catholic hierarchy?

To take an extreme case : I cannot imagine an encyclical that, even by implication, would endorse the forcible repatriation of Muslims from the US (or any other nominally Christian society.) To take a middle case: I cannot imagine an encyclical that would criticize some inconvenient Muslim imposition such as demanding "prayer breaks" while at work etc.

I think your confidence in the measures in Part II as being more consistent with Catholic doctrine than current practices, is consistent with a romantic or perhaps an nostalgic view of Catholicism. This is an observation and not a criticism. Many Catholics are troubled by the church's compromises with "modernity" and long for a return to the assurance of counter-Reformation attitudes.

I would describe myself as a disaffected Catholic who has been drifting for a long time. This isn't the place to go into the reasons why I've cast off, but since you allude to it, "liturgical nuttiness" is one of them.

Michael Bauman:Christian charity does not prevent you from protecting your family, your community, your church, and your country from moral erosion, and perhaps even slaughter, at the hands of anti-Christian forces. It requires it.

Indeed it does.

As Mrs McGrew says, “Our first duty of love is love for God.” As she goes on (while in not quite these terms), our *second* duty of love is to love our own: our own family, our own neighbors, our own people, our own nation and culture.

To love the alien at the expense of one’s own is as immoral as to shirk one’s direct duty to God; it is as immoral as to buy an X-Box for the neighbor while allowing one’s own children to go hungry. It’s just another way to engage in moral preening -- it’s a way of boasting to be more righteous than God himself.

Alex, I think that you are mostly right in what you describe as the current liberal Catholic hierarchy's bent on immigration policy: they are not likely to accept Jeff's suggestions at all. That would be because they are strongly inclined toward irrational and un-Catholic ideas on our obligations to the potential immigrant, and to the illegal immigrant here in our midst. Their incoherence is easily shown when they put more than 4 sentences together on the subject.

But the Catholic in the pew shows a modicum of steadfastness for common sense that cannot be explained by the liberal hierarchy: the majority that still supports the death penalty in limited cases is an example, even after 30 years of outright polemical warfare against this perfectly sound Catholic traditional view. (Such majority is no longer the case with the Catholic not in the pew. Interestingly, the hierarchy's polemics seems to have had a greater effect on those who don't go to church regularly than on those who do - I wonder if anyone has pointed this out to them). I have little doubt that on immigration policy as well, the Catholics in the pew will be, by a margin of at least 20 percentage points, more sensible and more in tune with Catholic principles than the liberal bishops.

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