Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Metropolitan Hilarion warns against PC Mania

Metropolitan Hilarion comes to the rescue with his characteristically sober and reserved, yet standing-firm-in-the-Truth insights. Much of what he warns about Europe can be applied to the United States; we are following in Europe's footsteps to a great extent. Excerpts below. Complete interview here.

Metropolitan Hilarion: Political correctness mania destroys Europe

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations, speaks at a time difficult for the Church about the tendency to reject traditional morality and Russia’s special way... in an interview to Olga Lipich of RIA Novosti news agency.

Q. Many believers see the ban against the wearing of an underwear cross at working hours in Great Britain as a vivid example of growing xenophobia in Europe in recent years. It is known that the British citizens who were sacked for demonstrating their religious symbols have appealed to the Strasbourg Court. What are the developments now, and what do you think about it?
A. ...The most important thing, it seems to me, is the very posing of the question whether an employer can prohibit his employees from wearing religious symbols, especially a cross. I think it points to a very serious moral decline and a conscious rejection of the country’s Christian roots on the part of British leaders.
I believe the only parallel that can be drawn here as it naturally comes to one’s mind is the Soviet Union in which this very thing, the wearing of crosses was forbidden and a cross could be torn away from one’s neck if noticed. I myself was a schoolboy; I wore a cross and I remember the teacher, having noticed the chain, took the cross out and tore it away… If Great Britain becomes like the Soviet Union in its ideological diktat characteristic of militant secularism, then it will not be the most beneficial comparison for a country which claims to be a democracy.
Q. What do you attribute such cases to, as they have been registered one after another in recent year?
A. I think in many countries in the West, in particular in Great Britain, a kind of political correctness mania has appeared to develop with a speed of manic psychosis. This political correctness lies in this: God forbid that out of all people we, Christians, or we as representatives of a particular Western country, should in any way offend Muslims, Jews or Hindu or representatives of other religions. And to prevent religious conflicts, they propose this solution: let us remove religion from public space altogether and remove religious symbols from the life of society. Then peace and love between confessions will presumably prevail.
But we know that the religious symbols of one confession in the most cases do not cause any irritation among the people of other confessions. On the contrary, they arouse sympathy. Actually, it is among atheists and people of secular worldview that religious symbols provoke irritation. It is not accidental that among fighters against crosses we see first of all militant atheists.
Q. Can one say that a lobby of high-ranking people has been formed in European countries, who ardently support the legalization of same-sex unions and euthanasia, seeking to lift as many as possible bans which have existed in society for centuries? Tentatively speaking, there is a certain conspiracy, not just anti-Christians, aimed against all traditional religions?
A. Of course, for these people Christianity, cross and other Christian symbols are like a red rag for a bull. It is not accidental that they are irritated by these symbols: Christianity has a very unambiguous attitude to all these problems.
We have repeatedly stated, though, that in a number of Christian churches, in particular in the Church of England, these traditional notions of moral values themselves are being obliterated today. The moral doctrine fixed in Holy Scriptures, in the New Testament, in the Gospels and apostolic epistles and patristic works is being replaced by new liberal standards which get incorporated in a particular Church’s teaching on morality, modifying these moral postulates to conform to the modern secular standards.
Q. What prospects do you see then? How probable is it that this process will grow into severe persecution against the Church in the next decades, not only in England but in Russia as well? Indeed, we can see the growth of anticlerical sentiments in our society, too. There is this much-talked-of action of young women in the Church of Christ the Saviour; there is this fuss around the Primate’s flat in the House on the Embankment; there are these letters written by Berezovsky to the Patriarch – all this has grown into one big campaign.
A. We should say straightforwardly that it is not anticlericalism but anti-church-minded people who arrange these campaigns in both our own and Western societies.
But if we still move back to the West, it seems to me that this process cannot continue endlessly, at least because it is suicidal for the whole Western society. It will lead either to the physical elimination of European nations or the leaders of these states will think about it and begin to reconsider their attitude.
Why am I saying about physical elimination? Because, for instance, this godless liberal ideology, which has prevailed in many Western countries today, delivers a blow not only to religions but first of all to such foundations of human existence as family and family values.
Indeed, what does homosexuality lead to? It leads to creating an increasing number of same-sex unions who claim to be marriages, while it goes without saying that such union do not produce posterity. The destruction of traditional family ideals leads to a considerable decrease in the number of extended families. An extended family in Western countries today, just as in Russia, is a great rarity. Extended are the families of Muslims, not Christians, even less, atheists.
That is to say, the population crisis that has spread through Western countries, has already led to a population decrease. And it will continue decreasing if these liberal standards continue lying in the basis of legislation, forming the public opinion propagated by the mass media.
If someday the powers that be realize that it is a suicidal way and begin to take measures to change the situation, then a reversal may begin. But if they do not realize this and insist all the way, then, I would say, the Western empire is to expect the fate of many great empires which used to exist and which died due to, first of all, a moral decay as was the case with the Roman Empire.
Q. We place a great responsibility on political leaders and legislators. What else can ordinary Christians in Europe do to save the native population of the continent from extinction? And how can the Russian Orthodox Church help?
A. First, we should keep unshakable the basic doctrine and basic moral teaching we have inherited from Christ Himself, the apostles and the early Church who have preserved them for centuries even at the price of martyrdom. I think the power of the Orthodox Church lies precisely in her ability not to yield to the trends of time, to preserve both her doctrine and moral teaching without changing them to please secular liberal standards.
It concerns however the Orthodox Church as, say, an organization. If we talk about concrete believers, we should state an obvious fact: not every parishioner lives according to the commandments of Christ. And not all who claim to be Orthodox Christians are parishioners of our churches who participate in the life of the Church and her Sacraments. And the most important thing is that not all Orthodox see the teaching of the Church as guidance for action in their everyday life.
When we learn to build our everyday life on lofty moral foundations preached by religious traditions, then we will be able to say that we take religion seriously.
Q. Your Eminence, you spoke about the meaning of life. Is there some universal meaning of life which you could reveal to everyone who comes to you with such a question?
A. It would be very difficult to formulate the universal meaning of life. Had it been possible, it would have been done long ago. But I think for us as Christians there is nothing higher than the meaning formulated and the task given by Jesus Christ: seek first the Kingdom of God and the rest will be given you.
It is not easy to explain to every person what the Kingdom of God is, because usually people, even believers, image the Kingdom of God as something accessible after death and something having no direct bearing on our life. Meanwhile, we as practicing Christians can say that the Kingdom of God may be present already in our life on earth, if we wish it.
In the Church, we come in touch with the Kingdom of God, which becomes a reality of our life through our devotional experience, through our participation in the sacraments, first of all, in the sacrament of the Eucharist (Communion), when we not merely communicate with God but get united with Him spiritually and physically.
This presence of the Kingdom of God, which we experience most fully in church, can and must penetrate our life. If we make this experience of participation in the Kingdom of God our priority, the rest is built around it, the rest comes with it. I can testify from experience of at least my own life. I can testify to it from the experience of many other people as well, whom I know, my friends, my parishioners, my mother, not to speak of people of the previous generations, the saints who could live up this commandment more fully than we do.
Q. And how is the commandment to seek the Kingdom of God expressed in a person’s behaviour, apart from his going to church? What is his inner feeling – the love of God, his neighbours, life or something else?
A. Again, there is no model of behaviour to be prescribed to a person for fulfilling this commandment. Each person finds for himself some specific ways of living this commandment if he really wants to live according to it.
For instance, St. Augustine is ascribed this remarkable utterance: ‘Love God and you could do whatever you wish!’. It means that if a person really loves God, he does not need all other commandments because he will fulfil them anyway by virtue of his love of God. If he loves God, it means he will love the neighbour. If he loves God, it means he will not commit cardinal sins or even sinful thoughts, etc.
If a person puts the Kingdom of God above all, all the rest will come with it. A search for the Kingdom of God and its truth as commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ becomes the leitmotif of his life, not only religious but also private, family life and professional life.
How is it manifested? If you are an Orthodox Christian, you create a strong family, love your wife and children and have as many children as the Lord gives you. You are protector and breadwinner of your family. In professional work, you are also guided by Christian moral norms. For instance, if you are a businessman, you do not steal, refuse to be corrupted, avoid immoral actions for the sake of personal profit; you wear a cross under your clothes, even if it is contrary to the official dress code.
I am not saying now whether you should wear a cross under your clothes or on the outside; it is a secondary matter. I am saying that a person should have the right to be guided by Christian spiritual and moral norms in all the aspects of his life.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

African Christians Ascend Golgotha

Christ is Risen! and Blessed Easter to our Western Christian brothers and sisters!

But this Western Easter, and as Orthodox celebrate Palm Sunday and the beginning of the Lord's Passion Week, let us offer prayers for our Christian brethren suffering throughout the world. In Africa, dire news is being reported:

Southern Sudanese Christians fear forced repatriation - Compass Direct News:
Christians from South Sudan who have until Easter Sunday (April 8) to try to become citizens of Sudan or be deported fear authorities will use the occasion to rid the country of Christianity, church leaders said.

More than 500,000 citizens of southern ethnic origin who have been living in Sudan for decades – some of them born there – will be considered foreigners after Sunday. Human rights organizations have called on Khartoum to grant them more time to either leave or apply for citizenship.

Christian leaders expressed concern that local media such as the daily Al Intibaha newspaper have been stoking hatred against predominantly Christian southern Sudanese, describing them as “cancer cells in the body of Sudan, the land of the Arab and Islam,” and calling on the government to deport them. 

Nigeria Bombing Kills At Least 38 (AP via WSJ):

LAGOS, Nigeria—A car bomb exploded along a busy roadway Sunday morning in a central Nigeria city, killing at least 38 people in the latest attack on a region beset by religious, ethnic and political violence, an official said.

The blast struck Kaduna, the capital of Kaduna state, leaving charred motorcycles and debris strewed across a major road in the city where many gather to eat at informal restaurants and buy black-market gasoline. Nearby hotels had their windows blown out of by the force of the powerful explosion, which engulfed a group of motorcycle taxmen.  At least 38 people were killed ...

And for further perspective on persecution of Christians worldwide, here are highlights with links for April (so far) from the Bulletin of Christian Persecution:

April 1, 2012

Turkey (h/t to JihadWatch)
Turkey's Greek Orthodox citizens living on the island of Gökçeada (Imbros) in the north Aegean cannot buy property on the island, the Taraf daily claimed on Sunday. The issue emerged when lawyer Erhan Gökçe complained in court about officials who put up difficulties before non-Muslims on the island who want to obtain property.

April 2, 2012

Egypt (h/t to Jihadwatch)
Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church has announced it is withdrawing from talks on a new constitution, saying Islamist domination of the drafting body has made its participation "pointless," Egypt's state news agency said.

April 4, 2012

An Egyptian court on Wednesday sentenced a 17-year-old Christian boy to three years in jail for publishing cartoons on his Facebook page that mocked Islam and the Prophet Mohammad, actions that sparked sectarian violence.

April 5, 2012

Tunsia (h/t to Raymond Ibrahim, translator)
The Christian Orthodox Church in Tunis, one of very few churches in the country of Tunisia, is being "abused" and receiving "threatening messages" from "Salafis." Church members are described as "living in a state of terror," so much so that the Russian ambassador in Tunis specifically requested the nation's Ministry of Interior to "protect the church."
The abuse has gotten to the point where "Salafis covered the cross of the church with garbage bags, telling the church members that they do not wish to see the vision of the Cross anywhere in the Islamic state of Tunisia."

April 6, 2012

Twelve Christians are to stand trial in Iran on Easter Sunday on charges including "crimes against the order", an activist assisting them with advocacy told BosNewsLife.

Christians from South Sudan who have until Easter Sunday (April 8) to try to become citizens of Sudan or be deported fear authorities will use the occasion to rid the country of Christianity, church leaders said.
Christian leaders expressed concern that local media such as the daily Al Intibaha newspaper have been stoking hatred against predominantly Christian southern Sudanese, describing them as "cancer cells in the body of Sudan, the land of the Arab and Islam," and calling on the government to deport them.

April 7, 2012

Iran (h/t to thereligionofpeace)
According to Iranian Christian news agency, Mohabat News, a two hundred year old historical graveyard in the Ghal'e-dokhtar area in Kerman province "has completely demolished".

Tunisia (h/t to JihadWatch)
Non-Muslim places of worship are being targeted by still-unidentified individuals. After the attacks perpetrated against the Orthodox church on Avenue Mohamed V, the Russian school located behind the church as well as the Christian cemetery of Montplasir in Tunis have been vandalized.
The walls of the school were smeared with fecal matter, as also a fresco of Saint Siberian [sic] located in the back courtyard of the Orthodox church, while the cemetery's crosses were destroyed.

April 8, 2012

Nigeria (h/t to thereligionofpeace)
At least 50 people were killed when explosives concealed in two cars went off near a church during Easter Sunday services in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna, eye-witnesses said. Shehu Sani, the President of Civil Rights Congress based in Kaduna, said two explosions took place at the Assemblies of God's Church near the centre of the city with a large Christian population and known as a major cultural and economic centre in Nigeria's north.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Three Stages of Jihad - Essential Video

While grabbing the link and text for the preceding post (Not a Hate Crime), I came across this very important educational video from David Wood of Answering Muslims. It's just shy of 25 minutes, but is absolutely essential viewing, and is quite witty, interspersing President Obama's didactic Cairo speech to lead us through the lesson. Share it with your friends and family.

Here is a link to the PDF brochure on Jihad David Wood discusses towards the end of the video.

Go here for more on Jihad at

Not a Hate Crime?

Perhaps you have read or seen news reports of the brutal murder of a Muslim woman in California. This shocking slaying was immediately reported as a hate crime, but now reports are revealing there is more to the story, and that it increasingly appears to be an honor killing. Here is a report from the website Answering Muslims, posted by the always trustworthy Christian apologist David Wood:

Police Records Cast Doubt on California "Hate Crime"

For years, the media have assured us that Americans are suffering from a mental disorder called "Islamophobia." Oddly enough, the only evidence they've ever been able to produce for this charge is that many Americans believe in freedom of speech, freedom of religion, women's rights, etc. (values not shared by Muhammad and his companions).

Recently, however, the media finally found the proof they've been waiting for. A Muslim woman named Shaima Alawadi was brutally murdered in her California home. A note was reportedly found beside her body, calling her a terrorist and telling her to go back to her country. Her family said that she had received a similar note a few weeks earlier. Clearly, Shaima was murdered by racist, Islamophobic bigots who spend their days reading articles at Jihad Watch and Atlas Shrugs (but who somehow manage to ignore Spencer and Geller's repeated calls for peaceful activism). 

Even before the facts were in, the media leapt at the chance to expose the bigotry and intolerance so prevalent in America. They assured us that Shaima was killed because she chose to wear the hijab, just as Trayvon Martin was killed for wearing a "hoodie." Women around the world have been posting pictures of themselves wearing the hijab, in a movement called "One Million Hijabs for Shaima." Muslims and non-Muslims have gathered at vigils to remember her.

But facts are beginning to emerge, and things aren't looking good for the media. Shaima was planning to divorce her husband and move to Texas. Her daughter Fatima was distraught over an impending arranged marriage with her cousin. As Fatima was being interviewed by police, she received a text message, which said: "The detective will find out tell them cnt talk."

Of course, it's always possible that further evidence will prove that Shaima was the victim of an anti-Muslim hate crime. In the meantime, the only "evidence" we have that this was perpetrated by "Islamophobes" was the note left by Shaima's body, which turned out to be a photocopy. All other evidence points in an entirely different direction.

EL CAJON — Search warrant records obtained Wednesday in the beating death of an Iraqi-American woman show a family in turmoil and cast doubt on the likelihood that her slaying was a hate crime.

Shaima Alawadi, a 32-year-old mother of five, was apparently planning to divorce her husband and move to Texas when she was killed, a family member told investigators, according to the court documents.

The records obtained at El Cajon Superior Court also reveal Alawadi’s 17-year-old daughter, Fatima Alhimidi, who called 911 to report the attack, was distraught over her pending arranged marriage to a cousin.

A search of Fatima’s cellphone records shows that while she was being interviewed by investigators hours after the attack, someone sent the teen a text message that read, “The detective will find out tell them (can’t) talk,” the affidavit states.

Fatima and her mother were the only ones at their El Cajon home on Skyview Street when the attack occurred about 11 a.m. on March 21.

Alawadi’s husband, Kassim Alhimidi, had reportedly left to take the couple’s other younger children to school, although police state in the March 27 affidavit that his whereabouts had not yet been confirmed. . . .

The sheriff’s crime lab determined a threatening handwritten note found near the victim was a copy, not the original, the records state. . . .

Some of the search warrant records remain sealed by a judge.

During a search of the home and the couple’s vehicles in the hours after the attack, police found court paperwork to file for divorce in Alawadi’s Ford Explorer. The packet was not filled out, but a form requesting a court fee waiver was filled out in handwriting with Alawadi’s name, address and phone number.

Majhed Alhasan, secretary for the Islamic Center of Lakeside and a close friend of the family, said Wednesday he had never heard that Alawadi had been thinking about a divorce and moving.

“This is the first time I’ve heard of it,” Alhasan said. “About a month ago, her mother, non-married sister and two non-married brothers moved to Texas.”

He said a married sister of Alawadi already was living in Houston.

Police also searched computers, cellphones and other devices. Among the evidence they were searching for was an earring matching a bloody one found near Alawadi. Family told investigators that she usually wore four earrings, according to the records.

Detectives were also seeking any other notes, a weapon similar to a tire iron and any forensic evidence.

Investigators also learned of a previous police contact with Fatima.

On Nov. 3, police found Fatima with a 21-year-old man after responding to a report of two people possibly having sex in a car, the documents state. Officers called her mother, who came to the location and picked up the girl. As they were driving away, Fatima said, “I love you, mom,” before jumping out of the vehicle onto Mollison Avenue at 35 mph.

She was taken to a hospital with several injuries, including a possible broken arm. She refused to talk to police at the hospital but reportedly told paramedics and hospital staff that she was being forced to marry her cousin and didn’t want to.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Saying Unpopular Truths

I recently had a challenging conversation with a friend, whose family is from the Middle East. This friend, we'll call him 'George' to protect his anonymity, and I veered off onto the subject of Islam, about which we agree in many respects. We were lamenting how difficult it seems to be for peaceful, good-hearted Muslims of conscience to rein in, stand against, or refute their violent supremacist co-religionists. George related the story of his family's village, where Muslims and Orthodox Christians lived in harmony for centuries, respecting and honoring one another's festivals and fasts, the Muslims protecting their Christian neighbors and looking out for them.

Fair enough, good to know, and thanks be to God.

But then George began lamenting about the violent jihadists, and how they are going completely against the peaceful tenets of Islam. In other words, George was affirming Islam to be a 'Religion of Peace' which has been hijacked by a 'Tiny Minority of Extremists'.

This is when I felt obliged to correct his impression, or to at least try to attenuate it somewhat.

George's position is that shared by most sincere people of good will and kind heart, many of whom, like George, have had direct experiences with kind and virtuous Muslims who treated them and their families with respect, dignity, affection. Because of these experiences, George and those with similar experiences and similarly sincere hearts extrapolate from the microcosm to the macro, from their family or village experience to making a blanket assessment of Islam as a whole. Thus, "Islam truly must be a 'Religion of Peace' because my Muslim neighbors are peaceful people." And if that is the case, then "the jihadists must not be true Muslims, and must be deceived, misguided extremists and not followers of true Islam at all."

Yet is this necessarily so? I don't think it is, and I tried to offer a few thoughts to George as to why.

First of all, I began with Muhammad and his example as being the "beautiful pattern of conduct" for Muslims. As some have put it, Muhammad is the "secret decoder ring" to the Koran, which is indecipherable without the Sunnah, or "Way" of the prophet. Muhammad's life (by Ibn Ishaq) combined with the hadith (traditions and saying by and about Muhammad, which number in the hundreds of volumes) inform the ulema, the collective of Islamic jurists, who apply Muhammad's example to literally every imaginable situation so as to clarify how a devout Muslim should live. Some actions are obligatory, some optional, some permissible, some prohibited. One might think that this is a virtuous exercise for a pious Muslim, wanting to follow the example of their prophet. And indeed, there are many virtuous aspects to Islamic moral code. One can find an Islamic manual for life in the book Way of the Traveler, published by Al Azhar University in Cairo Egypt, the foremost center of Islamic jurisprudence in the world. Yet much of the "moral" code put forth in this book would shock any sane person.

A moral code is only as good as its source. And according to the Islamic source texts themselves, Muhammad is a decidedly un-moral person to follow. Muhammad married his favorite bride Aisha when she was only six years old, and consummated the marriage (i.e., had sexual intercourse with her) when she was nine years old.  Muhammad was 53 at the time.   Think on that for a moment.

“The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death).” (Sahih Al Bukhari 7.62.88)

Muhammad had numerous wives, nine to eleven at one time according to Islamic source texts, as well as concubines captured during his many raids. He is described as having a schedule for regular conjugal visits, and sometimes had sex with all of his wives in one night, one after the other (Bukhari 1:5:268). Fr Zakaria Botros, using the Islamic source texts, tabulates the number of women Muhammad was intimate with, and comes up with a total of sixty six. Muhammad himself is reported as saying, "I never have enough of women" (from hadith Faid al-Qabir 3:371).

We also are told Muhammad was a ruthless warlord, who personally beheaded (according to the Life of Muhammad by Ibn Ishaq, a devout Muslim) 700-800 Jews after one battle.

Muhammad extolled deceit in dealing with his enemies. And most importantly for our consideration here, he commanded his followers to wage jihad until the world was brought under the rule of Allah and Islam dominated everywhere. This is the pattern of conduct Muslims are commanded in the Koran to follow. This Muhammad is who the jihadis are following. And this is the reason why so-called "moderate" Muslims have such a hard time. Their own texts are not on their side. There is no "moderate" Islam.

But perhaps Islam could be reformed?

My next point to George was to cite Dr Mark Durie and Islam scholar Raymond Ibrahim, who both solidly argue that the call for a "reformation" in Islam is a false hope. Those who assert that Islam is peaceful, and that it just needs to go through a reformation as did Western Christendom have lost sight of what the reformation was all about. Martin Luther and others sought to strip away the accretions and excesses of Roman Catholicism and return to the source texts, to the Gospels and the New Testament.

(*Note added 4/5/12 - Of course, as an Orhodox Christian, I would suggest that if one strips away the accretions and errors of Roman Catholicism, one arrives at the Orthodox Church, which is the New Testament, Apostolic Church.)

Yet when you apply the same principal to Islam, and return to the source texts (the Koran, the hadiths, the Sira) you get precisely what we see today in Salafism, Wahhabism, the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, etc. They ARE the Islamic reformation. Islam by its very nature as evinced by its source texts commands what these so called "extremist" groups are doing. They are following the dictates of the Koran and their prophet:

Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth [i.e. Islam] among the people of the Book [Jews and Christians], until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (Sura 9:29)

Kill the unbelievers wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush. (Sura 9:5)

I will cast terror into the hearts of those who have disbelieved, so strike them over the necks, and smite over all their fingers and toes. (Sura 8:12)

Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into the enemies of Allah and your enemies. (Sura 8:60)

So, when you meet those who disbelieve, smite at their necks till when you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly on them... Thus you are ordered by Allah to continue in carrying out jihad against the disbelievers till they embrace Islam. (Sura 47:4)

After getting to this point with George, I offered something of an olive branch.

How do we then understand the peaceful, generous, kind and virtuous actions of Muslims, especially when they are directed towards non-Muslims? This phenomenon is a result of a purely human, sincere heart — that is — of a warm and living human conscience which has not been subdued by the anti-human "meta-conscience" based on the Koran and Muhammad's example and commanded by the ulema. Put another way, a Muslim acting according to conscience will filter out disturbing passages from the Koran, and act according to conscience. Our conscience is a gift from God, an inner sense of knowing right from wrong. In fact, it is one of the traits which we bear within us by virtue of being created in the image and likeness of God. Thank God many Muslims do, in fact, live this way.

But here is a hard saying: Muslims who live according to their conscience are not living as true Muslims. This is the crucial fact.

Conversely, when a Muslim starts becoming more devout, desiring ever more to follow the Sunnah, the Way of the prophet, that Muslim is in danger of having his God-given conscience slowly supplanted by the "meta-conscience" of Islam. Imposed from without, the Islamic meta-conscience commands the Muslim to go precisely against his God-given conscience, as seen in this verse from the Koran:

Fighting [i.e., Jihad] is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not. (Sura 2:216)

In the case of a jihadist, the human conscience is all but dead, subdued by the Mohammedan uber-conscience. This is how jihadists can kill innocent civilians and children. True Islam is not a religion of peace, but something quite dark and disturbing.

These considerations are an affirmation of the human conscience, and of Christian anthropology, while identifying a very concerning question, namely, where 1.2 billion Muslims on the planet stand in the continuum between possessing a basically healthy human conscience, and having that conscience subverted and replaced by the Islamic meta-conscience.

As I have written in my book and elsewhere, the answer to this challenge is for us to grow ever deeper in our own Orthodox Christian Faith, so that we might be prepared to confess Jesus Christ and share the Gospel when the opportunity presents itself. The heroic Priest-Martyr Fr Daniil Sysoev converted some eighty Muslims to the Orthodox Christian Faith before he was killed by an Islamic extremist. He even reached several very extreme Wahhabis. This should give us great hope, that in the heart of a zealous but misguided Muslim, there may remain a pure desire to know the True God, which can be touched by the Truth of Jesus Christ.

Forgive me, George, for speaking so boldly, but it is the truth, spoken in love.