A slightly edited version of this essay was first published at RaymondIbrahim.com
|Constantine's vision of the Cross|
This year marks the 1700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan in 313 A.D., the historic guarantee of religious liberty to Christians by the Roman Empire.
Orthodox Christian hierarchs, including Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow and All Russia, and others, recently gathered in Nis, Serbia — the birthplace of Constantine the Great — to honor Constantine’s key role in forming the Edict’s stance of tolerance towards Christians, who had been persecuted for centuries for not honoring the Roman gods.
The Edict was of explicitly universal significance in the Empire, as it was agreed upon by both Constantine (who controlled the West) and Licinius (in the East) upon their meeting in Milan in February, 313. Constantine was already more than favorably disposed towards the Christian Faith; the Edict therefore was a key step in his role as advocate and protector of the Church. By 380 A.D. Christianity had become the official state religion of the Roman Empire under Theodosius I.
The Edict protected Christians’ rights to worship freely, organize, and to build churches, and it provided for the return of confiscated property to Christians. If the wording of these rights sounds familiar somehow, it may be because we see their explicit reversal under Islam, via the harsh and demeaning terms of the Conditions of Omar and the dhimma contract of ‘protection’, which forbids Christians from publicly displaying signs of their faith or worshipping openly, from building new churches or repairing existing ones, and requires payment of the crippling jizya tax, together with an assortment of other demeaning restrictions designed to sap the will and vibrancy of the Christian populace under Islamic rule.
Islam, beginning with Muhammad and the Koran, and further codified by the caliph Omar, offers three choices to conquered Christians: reject Christ and convert to Islam; if not that, accept second class status under Islamic rule and pay the jizya tax; if they refuse even that then it is death. Per the Koran and key hadiths about Muhammad:
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. (Koran 9:29)
Muhammad said, “I have been commanded to fight people until they testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and perform the prayer, and pay zakat. If they say it, they have saved their blood and possessions from me, except for the rights of Islam over them. And their final reckoning is with Allah.” (Bukhari, 1:2:25, also Sahih Muslim, Book of Faith, 1:10:29-35)
Islam’s demeaning treatment of conquered Christians thus abrogates the Edict of Milan, and specifically reverses and denies the rights conferred by that landmark Roman ruling.
Wherever Islam conquered by the sword — from the Christianized Levant, North Africa and the Iberian peninsula in the seventh century, to Constantinople, the Balkans, and Central Asia in the Ottoman period — this repeal of the Edict of Milan was forcefully applied. It was only in the nineteenth century with the rise of the Great European Powers that Islam’s dominance was blunted and eventually dismantled. The Ottoman Empire was eventually forced by Britain, France and Russia to legally grant equal rights to Christians in the Balkans (though this was applied inconsistently at best, and did nothing to prevent Muslim Turks from committing genocide against 4 million Christians from 1894 to 1923).
In his book, Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War Against Christians, Raymond Ibrahim details how, beginning in the mid-nineteenth century and extending for over a hundred years, Western dominance had succeeded in restoring some measure of rights to Christians in Islamic territories. Now, with the violent rise of Islamist movements like the Muslim Brotherhood, Wahhabism, Salafism, Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab and the rest of their grisly gamut, we are seeing played out before our eyes the very extermination of Christians from their ancestral homelands.
While U.S. administrations have, for decades now, wrongheadedly sided with Muslim extremists to achieve various foreign policy goals, it is only under President Barack Hussein Obama that an explicitly pro-Islamist policy has been enacted. From Obama’s open support of the Muslim Brotherhood early in his first term, to his inclusion in his administration of Brotherhood-linked officials, to his direct support of Al Qaeda-linked factions in Libya and Syria, he has accomplished a polar shift in American foreign policy away from forces which embrace human rights, pluralism, and religious liberty — liberal Western concepts which derive straight from Christian principles of tolerance, love of neighbor, and care for the downtrodden — and towards what can only be described as forces of evil, persecution and bloodlust.
In one of the most damning examples of this new American alliance with darkness, Secretary of State John Kerry recently warned Nigeria’s government against infringing on the human rights of the murderous Boko Haram Islamist group, which continues to slaughter thousands of Christians, destroying their homes, churches and villages. Similarly, the Obama administration ignores Muslim Brotherhood persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt, and Al Qaeda’s slaughter of Christians in Syria, siding instead with the Islamist persecutors.
Moving far beyond the opportunistic, temporary alliances of past U.S. administrations with Muslim extremists, Obama grounds his support of the Islamists on appeals to their fundamental rights. But unlike the liberal Western notion of human rights (“my rights end where another’s begins”), the Islamist’s rights always supersede the rights of non-Muslims everywhere, and that is indeed their stated objective. Whether Muslim Brotherhood, Wahhabi, Salafi, or Al Qaeda, their goal is always the institution of an Islamic state or caliphate, under which the sharia would rule, the Conditions of Omar would be applied to Christians, and the last vestiges of the Edict of Milan would finally be swept away. Obama’s support for these groups is support for their objectives.
To traditional Christians, Obama’s support for same-sex marriage and abortion, his lawfare and legislative assault on Christian churches, organizations, businesses, and individuals, coupled with the cult of personality which surrounds him like an aura (children do pray to him, after all), clearly makes him an antichrist figure. But in the geopolitical realm, there should be an ominous realization dawning upon all observers with a long view of history:
Obama is the anti-Constantine, whose chief goal seems to be the final and complete repudiation and abrogation of the Edict of Milan.
Put another way, Christian tradition holds that Constantine saw a vision of the Cross in the sky, with the words, “In this sign conquer.” Obama, on the other hand, looks at the Cross and hears a command: “Conquer this sign.”
Not convinced? In April 2009, the White House had Georgetown University, a Roman Catholic institution, cover the Cross and the ‘IHS’ monogram of Jesus Christ before Obama’s speech there. By his words and policies before and since that highly symbolic event, Obama has proven that he seeks to do far more than merely cover up the Cross. He seeks to conquer it.
Obama is the anti-Constantine.