Islam losing ground to Christianity?

Christianity may be declining in the West and Islam is surging, but in the world as a whole, it’s a different story.  So says Ryan Mauro:

It’s true that Islam (as well as atheism and universalism) is growing in the West, mostly because of high birth rates among Muslims and immigration, but the exploding growth of evangelical Christianity around the world through conversion is unreported. The analysis is distorted because of the lack of reporting from places like Africa, where nearly half of the population is estimated to be Christian. In other places like China, news of such trends is suppressed, leaving few to know that some estimates put the Christian population there at up to 111 million. There may be more members in the underground evangelical movement there than in the 75-million strong Chinese Communist Party. It’s been reported that 10,000 Chinese convert to Christianity per day. That number may be a stretch, but if current trends hold, predictions that China will become the country with the largest number of Christians by the middle of the century could come true.

The image in one’s mind of a Christian is usually of an American or European. The decline of Christianity in the West gives the impression that the religion is collapsing when it is really transforming. In Dinesh D’Souza’s What’s So Great About Christianity, he writes that in 1900, over 80 percent of Christians lived in Europe and the U.S. Now, two out of three evangelicals live in Asia, Africa, and South America. South Korea now holds the title as the second-place country in sending out missionaries, despite the fact that the number one country, the U.S., has over six times as many people.

Another fact to consider is that while the number of Christians overall is declining in the West, the number of evangelicals is rising. There are less of those “Sunday Christians” who do the church routine and don’t make having a relationship with God part of their very being. They are falling away from church as it becomes more socially acceptable to do so and are turning to agnosticism, atheism, and a universalism that believes all religions are one and the same. Christianity is changing into a smaller but more devout and active force.

It is much harder to detect “Friday Muslims” in the Islamic world than it is “Sunday Christians” in the West because of the societal repercussions and the suppression of other religions. Those questioning their faith are likely to keep it private and still go to mosque even if they party on the weekends. The dismal state of the Islamic world economically and politically and the savagery of extremism is turning many Muslims away. For example, I’ve been surprised at how many Iranians I’ve communicated with are atheists or aren’t devout Muslims. There is a clandestine movement to acquire Bibles and practice Christianity in private homes, as up to 1 million are said to have turned to Christianity in the past five years.

This is a problem that raises significant concern in the Muslim world, but the West misses it. In April 2008, Andrew Walden wrote a top-notch piece here at Pajamas Media about this phenomenon. One top Islamic scholar in Libya says that 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity every day and Walden writes that evangelist Wolfgang Simpson says that “more Muslims have come to Christ in the last two decades than in all of history.” He writes that the mufti of the Malaysian state of Perak says that about 250,000 Muslims in his country have filed to officially leave Islam, including 100,000 that have converted to Christianity. The mufti warned that this number doesn’t include those who are non-practicing Muslims.

It is undeniable that Islam is growing in the West, but there are signs that the number of Muslims that don’t diligently practice the faith is increasing just as is the case with Christianity. In February 2005, the Sunday Times wrote that “one estimate suggests that as many as 15 per cent of Muslims in Western societies have lost their faith.” A Pew poll in July 2007 found that Muslim-Americans are in third place in how many describe religion as playing a “very important” role in their lives, with 72 percent affirming the statement as compared to 79 percent of white evangelicals and 85 percent of black Protestants. Most interestingly, only 50 percent of Muslim-Americans take their holy book, the Koran, literally, whereas 66 percent of white evangelicals and 68 percent of black Protestants take the Bible literally.

via Pajamas Media » Is Islam Really the Second-Fastest Growing Religion?.

The Islamic center at Ground Zero

It looks like the Islamic cultural center being proposed for construction near the site where the World Trade Center stood before 9/11 will be built:

Plans to build an Islamic cultural center near the World Trade Center site moved forward after New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to allow the demolition of a building that would be replaced by a mosque.

The panel denied landmark status to a long-vacant 152-year- old lower Manhattan building on Park Place, formerly a Burlington Coat Factory department store. The unanimous vote cleared a hurdle for the site to be torn down and the mosque, recreation and cultural center to be built.

The proposed mosque has drawn opposition from former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who have called its proposed presence near the site of the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history inappropriate. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn have supported the project.

“To cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists,” Bloomberg said at a news conference today on Governors Island in New York Harbor, within view of the Statue of Liberty, where he was joined by Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy. “No neighborhood in our city is off limits to God’s love and mercy.”

The Cordoba Initiative, the project’s sponsor, describes itself as a pluralistic organization seeking better relations between the Islamic community and other faiths. Plans for the center include a 500-seat auditorium, swimming pool, restaurants, bookstores and space for art exhibitions, according to the organization’s website.

via Ground Zero Mosque Plans Move Forward After Key Vote – Bloomberg.

We do have freedom of religion in this country, so I see no legal basis for preventing this construction.  But this is not just a mosque.  Swimming pool?  restaurants?  And I’d like more information about the Cordoba Initiative.  Is this a Muslim group that claims Islamic sovereignty over Spain?  If so, they are likely radicals.  And is there any doubt that radical Muslims will use this monument as an occasion for triumphalism? But, again, religious freedom has to mean freedom for Muslims and everyone else as well as for Christians.

We can complain about something without thinking that the state should prevent it (a principle that has other applications). [Like what?]

Temporary marriage

We have blogged earlier about the phenomenon of “temporary marriage” in Shi’ite Islam, which sanctions sexual immorality by allowing a man to “marry” a woman and then “divorce” her after a one-night stand.  Now a mosque in Iran is, in effect, setting up a prostitution ring, including in its offerings children as young as twelve.  Here is the official announcement:

In order to elevate the spiritual atmosphere, create proper psychological conditions and tranquility of mind, the Province of the Quds’eh-Razavi of Khorassan has created centers for temporary marriage (just next door to the shrine) for those brothers who are on pilgrimage to the shrine of our eighth Imam, Imam Reza, and who are far away from their spouses.

To that end, we call on all our sisters who are virgins, who are between the ages of 12 and 35 to cooperate with us. Each of our sisters who signs up will be bound by a two-year contract with the province of the Quds’eh-Razavi of Khorassan and will be required to spend at least 25 days of each month temporarily married to those brothers who are on pilgrimage. The period of the contract will be considered as a part of the employment experience of the applicant. The period of each temporary marriage can be anywhere between 5 hours to 10 days. The prices are as follows:

· 5 hour temporary marriage — 50,000 Tomans ($50 US)

· One day temporary marriage — 75,000 Tomans ($75 US)

· Two day temporary marriage — 100,000 Tomans ($100 US)

· Three day temporary marriage — 150,000 Tomans ($150 US)

· Between 4 and 10 day temporary marriage — 300,000 Tomans ($300 US)

Our sisters who are virgins will receive a bonus of 100,000 Tomans ($100 US) for the removal of their hymen.

After the expiration of the two-year contract, should our sisters still be under 35 years of age and should they be so inclined, they can be added to the waiting list of those who are seeking long-term temporary marriage. The employed sisters are obligated to donate 5% of their earnings to the Shrine of Imam Reza. We ask that all the sisters who are interested in applying, to furnish two full-length photographs (fully hijabed and properly veiled), their academic diplomas, proof of their virginity and a certificate of good physical and psychological health which they can obtain through the health and human services of the township of their residence. Please forward all compiled material and send to the below address by the 31st of the month of Ordibehesht, 1389 (May 21st, 2010).

Attention: For sisters who are below 14 years of age, a written consent from their fathers or male guardian is required.

via Pajamas Media » Pimp Your Mosque!.

Again we see how legalism begets loop-hole hunting and immorality, while maintaining self-righteousness.

NOTE: I should clarify, as a Muslim commenter points out, that only Shi’ite Muslims practice “temporary marriage.” Sunni Muslims, who make up 90% of the faith, strongly reject this. It’s one of the reasons they are so opposed to the Shi’ites.

Egypt orders Coptic Christians to allow divorce

The Egyptian government has ruled that Coptic Christians must change their doctrine about divorce and remarriage, putting them more in line with Islam:

It is not enough that the Egyptian government facilitates persecution of the Copts, Egypt’s indigenous Christian minority. Now the government is interfering directly with the church’s autonomy concerning doctrine. According to the Assyrian International News Agency:

The head of the Coptic Church in Egypt has rejected a court ruling that orders the church to allow divorced Copts to remarry in the church. In a press conference held on Tuesday June 8, Pope Shenouda [III], reading from the statement issued by the Holy Synod’s 91 Bishops, including himself, said: “The Coptic Church respects the law, but does not accept rulings which are against the Bible and against its religious freedom which is guaranteed by the Constitution.” He went on to say “the recent ruling is not acceptable to our conscience, and we cannot implement it.” He also said that marriage is a holy sacrament of a purely religious nature and not merely an “administrative act.”

Though little reported in the West, this issue is rapidly boiling over. There is even talk that, if he does not submit to the court’s ruling, the pope will (once again) be imprisoned. What is behind such unprecedented governmental interference with the Coptic Church’s autonomy?

Reading Egypt’s national newspaper, Al Ahram, one gets the impression that, by trying to make divorce and remarriage easier for Copts, the Egyptian government is attempting to “liberalize” Coptic society — only to be challenged by an antiquated pope not open to “reform.” It quotes one Copt saying that the “pope’s limiting divorce and remarriage to cases of adultery is unfair. It is against human nature.” Even the manager of the Centre for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance claims that his position “exposes Pope Shenouda’s desire to impose his will over the Christian community” (a curious statement, considering that some 10,000 Copts recently demonstrated in support of the pope, and that the Catholic and Orthodox churches — which guide some 1.5 billion Christians — hold similar views on divorce and remarriage).

At any rate, lest the reader truly think that the Egyptian government is becoming more “liberal,” there are a few important facts to remember:

First, according to the Second Article of the Egyptian Constitution, Sharia law — one of, if not the most draconian law codes to survive the Medieval period — is “the principal source of legislation.” This means that any number of measures contrary to basic human rights are either explicitly or implicitly supported by the Egyptian government, including polygamy, the obstruction of churches, and institutionalized discrimination against non-Muslims and females in general. Put differently, Sharia law can be liberal — but only to male Muslims, who (speaking of marriage and divorce) can have up to four wives, and divorce them by simply uttering “I divorce you” thrice (even via “text messaging”).

via Pajamas Media » Unprecedented: Egyptian Government Suppresses Christian Doctrine.

May Israel defend itself at all?

A disturbing column by Charles Krauthhammer on the global response to Israel’s blockade of Gaza:

Oh, but weren’t the Gaza-bound ships on a mission of humanitarian relief? No. Otherwise they would have accepted Israel’s offer to bring their supplies to an Israeli port, be inspected for military materiel and have the rest trucked by Israel into Gaza — as every week 10,000 tons of food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies are sent by Israel to Gaza.

Why was the offer refused? Because, as organizer Greta Berlin admitted, the flotilla was not about humanitarian relief but about breaking the blockade, i.e., ending Israel’s inspection regime, which would mean unlimited shipping into Gaza and thus the unlimited arming of Hamas.

Israel has already twice intercepted ships laden with Iranian arms destined for Hezbollah and Gaza. What country would allow that?

But even more important, why did Israel even have to resort to blockade? Because, blockade is Israel’s fallback as the world systematically de-legitimizes its traditional ways of defending itself — forward and active defense.

(1) Forward defense: As a small, densely populated country surrounded by hostile states, Israel had, for its first half-century, adopted forward defense — fighting wars on enemy territory (such as the Sinai and Golan Heights) rather than its own.

Where possible (Sinai, for example) Israel has traded territory for peace. But where peace offers were refused, Israel retained the territory as a protective buffer zone. Thus Israel retained a small strip of southern Lebanon to protect the villages of northern Israel. And it took many losses in Gaza, rather than expose Israeli border towns to Palestinian terror attacks. It is for the same reason America wages a grinding war in Afghanistan: You fight them there, so you don’t have to fight them here.

But under overwhelming outside pressure, Israel gave it up. The Israelis were told the occupations were not just illegal but at the root of the anti-Israel insurgencies — and therefore withdrawal, by removing the cause, would bring peace.

Land for peace. Remember? Well, during the past decade, Israel gave the land — evacuating South Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005. What did it get? An intensification of belligerency, heavy militarization of the enemy side, multiple kidnappings, cross-border attacks and, from Gaza, years of unrelenting rocket attack.

(2) Active defense: Israel then had to switch to active defense — military action to disrupt, dismantle and defeat (to borrow President Obama’s description of our campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaeda) the newly armed terrorist mini-states established in southern Lebanon and Gaza after Israel withdrew.

The result? The Lebanon war of 2006 and Gaza operation of 2008-09. They were met with yet another avalanche of opprobrium and calumny by the same international community that had demanded the land-for-peace Israeli withdrawals in the first place. Worse, the U.N. Goldstone report, which essentially criminalized Israel’s defensive operation in Gaza while whitewashing the casus belli — the preceding and unprovoked Hamas rocket war — effectively de-legitimized any active Israeli defense against its self-declared terror enemies.

(3) Passive defense: Without forward or active defense, Israel is left with but the most passive and benign of all defenses — a blockade to simply prevent enemy rearmament. Yet, as we speak, this too is headed for international de-legitimation. Even the United States is now moving toward having it abolished.

But, if none of these is permissible, what’s left?

Ah, but that’s the point. It’s the point understood by the blockade-busting flotilla of useful idiots and terror sympathizers, by the Turkish front organization that funded it, by the automatic anti-Israel Third World chorus at the United Nations, and by the supine Europeans who’ve had quite enough of the Jewish problem.

What’s left? Nothing. The whole point of this relentless international campaign is to deprive Israel of any legitimate form of self-defense. Why, just last week, the Obama administration joined the jackals, and reversed four decades of U.S. practice, by signing onto a consensus document that singles out Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons — thus de-legitimizing Israel’s very last line of defense: deterrence.

The world is tired of these troublesome Jews, 6 million — that number again — hard by the Mediterranean, refusing every invitation to national suicide. For which they are relentlessly demonized, ghettoized and constrained from defending themselves, even as the more committed anti-Zionists — Iranian in particular — openly prepare a more final solution.

via Krauthammer: Those troublesome Jews.

The leftist/Islamist alliance

Dennis Mitzner tries to explain the odd alliance between the hard-core left and Islamic jihadists (evident especially in Europe), despite the latter’s attitude towards women, homosexuality, etc., etc.  An excerpt:

Since the left views Muslims as part of their struggle against Western hegemony, they are given a pass on their religiosity. Islam does not threaten the left in the same fashion as Judaism and Christianity. They look at Christians and Jews and see wealth; they look at Muslims and see poverty. It is common knowledge that the left is comprised of Marxists or Marxist-sympathizers, so viewing the world through a prism of one’s economic status is perfectly logical. . . .

Perhaps it is the Marxism that draws the political left to the Islamists and the usefulness of the political left that draws Islamists to the Marxists. However, there must be something deeper behind their collective fury. Maybe it’s anti-Semitism or maybe it’s something else.Clarity is what is needed in order to analyze their respective motives. Both the left and the Islamists see the two religions that produced the Western liberal order, Judaism and Christianity, as malicious influences on the world.

via Pajamas Media » European Progressives, Islamists: More Alike Than We Think?.