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.