Trump’s Islam speech takes religion seriously

Trump's trip

President Trump gave a speech on Islam to 55 Muslim leaders on his trip to Saudi Arabia.  And I think he handled this difficult assignment quite well.

He actually treated Islam like a religion.  He addressed his audience in religious terms that Muslims would understand.

Instead of condescending platitudes informing Muslims that their religion is actually a religion of peace, he talked about God’s judgment.

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Indonesia convicts Christian governor of blasphemy

388px-Wakil_Gubernur_DKI_Basuki_TPA court in Indonesia has found the governor of Jakarta, a Christian, guilty of blasphemy and sentenced him to two years in prison.

His crime?  He said in an election campaign that his opponents were deceiving people by saying that the Q’uran teaches that Muslims should not be led by non-Muslims.

This apparent questioning of the Q’uran sparked riots and an indictment against him.  The court drew on the statements of an Islamist radical as an expert witness.

The conviction is evidence that radical Muslims are becoming more and more influential in Indonesia, which has a large Christian minority (including some six million Lutherans).

 

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Open communion that includes Muslims

2295355354_e65354babd_zIn Atlanta during Holy Week, the entire diocese of the Episcopal Church held a Mass in which the clergy renewed their ordination vows.  This was also an interfaith service.

The Scripture readings included a text from the Quran.  A Muslim woman gave the sermon.  Then, during the Eucharist, the Bishop communed her.

He later explained that his diocese practices “open communion.”  (Even for the unbaptized?  For non-Christians?)

The Muslim woman received the Host.  But, as a good Muslim, she declined the Wine.

At least someone in the service was faithful to her religion.

 

Illustration: Interfaith Banner, photograph by Sean, Flickr, Creative Commons License
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Student suspended for disagreeing with Muslim professor

male-213729_640Muslims believe that Jesus was not really crucified.  According to the Qur’an, 

That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah“;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-
Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power.  (Qur’an, sura 4 (An-Nisa) ayat 157-158)

This is taken to mean either that Allah substituted someone else for Jesus, making the other person look like the “prophet,” or that he created an illusion so that a spirit-shape only appeared to be Jesus, which was the teaching of some Gnostics.  In any event, Muslims believe that Jesus, while He existed and was a great prophet, did not really die on the Cross, but that He was rather taken up into Heaven.

At Rollins College, a Muslim professor, in light of his religious commitment, claimed outright that Jesus’s crucifixion was a hoax.  A Christian student took issue with that and argued otherwise.  Whereupon he failed the class and got suspended from school.

Let me offer some perspective based on my four decades as a professor:  In a secular school, professors may talk about religion, including their own, as long as it is relevant to the course and as long as they do so objectively, without imposing their religious views on their students.  In discussing Milton, even when I was teaching in a secular college, I could talk about the Christian concepts of creation, fall, and redemption.  “This is what Milton believed.  You need to know this to understand Paradise Lost.”

The professor here could say, “We Muslims don’t believe that Jesus died on the cross.”  That would be interesting and could prompt some illuminating discussion.  But in claiming outright that Jesus’s death was a “hoax” and then punishing a student for disagreeing, in accord with his own Christian religion, the professor was clearly “imposing” his religious beliefs on the class.  Professors aren’t supposed to do that.

But what about issues of diversity?  Wasn’t the student being insensitive to the professor’s religious beliefs?  Cultural diversity, sensitivity, tolerance, etc., are supposed to manifest themselves in the way faculty members treat students!  Not the way students treat faculty!

Faculty members have the power here.  It’s their job to treat their students appropriately, including showing respect for their religious sensibilities.

I don’t know the whole story.  Maybe the student was disruptive, disrespectful, and breaking other campus rules.  But treating Muslims equally means holding Muslim professors to the same standards as Christian professors in the way they handle their religious beliefs in their classes. [Read more…]

Judge blocks Trump’s new travel ban

Derrick_K._WatsonPresident Trump’s new travel ban, revised to eliminate the legal difficulties that a judge found in his first order, has also been thrown out by a federal judge.

A Hawaii federal court blocked the ban, which was to go in effect today.

The judge said that Trump’s campaign comments about Muslims show that the restrictions on travel or immigration from six terrorist-infected countries have the true purpose of discriminating against a religion.

But if the target is Muslims, why aren’t Muslims from the rest of the world blocked?  Why just those six countries?

It seems strange to me that a judge insists on interpreting a policy according to  campaign rhetoric.  This, even after the policy was revised to remove the apparent connection.  What if the president had a complete change of heart about things he said in the heat of the campaign?  Would his policies still be interpreted according to what he said back then?  I just don’t understand how legally the effusions of a campaign speech can have the force of law in determining the meaning of a statute.

Photo of Judge Derrick K. Watson, by United States District Court for the District of Hawaii [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Converts to “religion of freedom” are boosting church attendance in Europe

refugees-A-INThe Muslim immigrants converting to Christianity are having a noticeable effect on church growth and church attendance in Europe.  (See this, this, and this.)

For the last few decades, churches have been almost empty on Sunday mornings. But congregations that have evangelized Muslims are coming back to life.  For example, theTrinity Lutheran Church in Berlin, which we have blogged about, used to have 150 parishioners.  Now they have 700.

The phenomenon has spread to England.  One Anglican bishop says that one out of four of the confirmations he performs are for Muslims converting to Christianity.

Two stories from British sources after the jump.  They give some inspiring testimonies about how some of these immigrants came to Christ.  A common theme:  the realization that Christianity is “the religion of freedom.”

I suppose there is a connection between the freedom of religion and the religion of freedom! [Read more…]