The Treaty of Tripoli

According to historian Susan Jacoby, when President Obama told a group of Muslims that “we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation.” he was alluding to the Treaty of Tripoli of 1797, which brought an end to the conflict with the Barbary coast pirates. Passed by the Senate without controversy and signed by President John Adams, the treaty makes this statement:

“As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion–as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen (Muslims)–and as the said states have never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religions opinions shall over produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

Replacing the New Testament reading with the Quran

Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester, who has been elected bishop of Northern Michigan by the Episcopal Church replaced the New Testament reading for one of the Sundays in Epiphany with a passage from the Quran. The liturgy folder, which you can download from the link if you don’t believe it, keeps the regular responses:

Reader: Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.

Assembly: Thanks be to God.

(Note to Steve from Toronto: I don’t mean to pick on Anglicans! I agree on their many contributions to historic Christianity. It just makes it hurt the more when I see things like this.)

UN says you can’t defame religion (especially Islam)

Mollie Hemingway at GetReligion reports on how the agency responsible for promoting human rights at the United Nations has passed a resolution similar to laws in many nations–including Canada–that forbid the defamation of religion. Especially Islam:

Last week, the UN Human Rights Council approved a resolution that calls on nation states to limit criticism of religions in general and Islam in particular. Proposed by Pakistan on behalf of other Islamic countries, the resolution passed with the votes of 23 countries on the 47-member council. According to Freedom House, many of the sponsors and supporters of the measure have some of the poorest records of respecting freedom of speech and religion in the world.

Critics of the resolution, mostly from Western countries or liberal activists in Muslim countries, say that the resolution is dangerous because it calls for laws that declare topics off limit for discussion, leading to intolerance of any view that some Muslims may find offensive. Some UN members pointed out that the idea that a given religion has rights against defamation is an idea at odds with freedom. They say that all beliefs must be open to debate, discussion and criticism and that rights against defamation belong solely to individuals.

Would we Christians find a law like that handy, if we could get it to apply to us? Or would we stand for free speech no matter what?

Muslim-Christian priest defrocked

Updating what we have posted about earlier, the female priest of the Episcopal Church who converted to Islam has been removed from her office.

Bishop Geralyn Wolf of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island deposed Ann Holmes Redding, citing abandonment of Communion of The Episcopal Church.

Although Wolf has described Redding as a “woman of utmost integrity,” the bishop said she “believes that a priest of the Church cannot be both a Christian and a Muslim,” according to a statement by the Rhode Island diocese.

So, good. The American Episcopal Church is showing there is a limit to its syncretism. But Anthony Sacramone asks, why expel a Muslim and not a total unbeliever like retired Bishop John Shelby Spong? But I’ll give credit.

Obama’s War

President Obama has announced his plans to escalate the war in Afghanistan.

President Obama introduced his new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan yesterday with a threat assessment familiar from the Bush administration. “The terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks,” he said, are continuing to devise plots designed to “kill as many of our people as they possibly can.”

Elements of the Obama plan to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat” al-Qaeda in Pakistan and vanquish its Taliban allies in Afghanistan also struck notes from the past. More U.S. troops, civilian officials and money will be needed, he said. Allies will be asked for additional help, and local forces will be trained to eventually take over the fight. Benchmarks will be set to measure progress.

But Obama sought to separate his approach from what he has described as years of unfocused, failed policy while President George W. Bush directed his attention and U.S. resources toward Iraq. Obama pledged to tighten U.S. focus on Pakistan and build a better “partnership” with its government and military. Beyond stepping up the ground fight against the Taliban, he said, he plans to target far more resources toward a narrower set of Afghan problems: government incompetence, opium cultivation and heroin trafficking, and a poorly equipped and trained army.

Bush spoke regularly of establishing a “flourishing democracy” in Afghanistan. But Obama, flanked during a White House speech by his top national security Cabinet members and advisers, made clear that his primary objective is to create a country stable and strong enough to prevent al-Qaeda from reoccupying Afghan territory.

The Post second-page headline from the Washington Post, linked here, says that the escalation means “Obama Break with Bush” on strategies for dealing with Al-Qaida and the Taliban, but the only differences I can see are throwing out the concern with democracy (meaning that we will support another dictator if he will keep his people under control), sending 21,000 additional troops (a Bush-style surge), and getting more deeply involved with Pakistan (that Islamic hornet’s nest with the nuclear weapons). Afghanistan and especially Pakistan seem like potentially a bigger morass than Iraq.

Question for Obama supporters: Are you OK with this?

Arson jihad

As Australia reels from devastating brush fires–with the death toll going over 180–an Australian paper reports that Islamic terrorists are recognizing what an easy form of terrorism it would be to set fires. From Islam group urges forest fire jihad |

AUSTRALIA has been singled out as a target for “forest jihad” by a group of Islamic extremists urging Muslims to deliberately light bushfires as a weapon of terror.

US intelligence channels earlier this year identified a website calling on Muslims in Australia, the US, Europe and Russia to “start forest fires”, claiming “scholars have justified chopping down and burning the infidels’ forests when they do the same to our lands”.

The website, posted by a group called the Al-Ikhlas Islamic Network, argues in Arabic that lighting fires is an effective form of terrorism justified in Islamic law under the “eye for an eye” doctrine.

The posting – which instructs jihadis to remember “forest jihad” in summer months – says fires cause economic damage and pollution, tie up security agencies and can take months to extinguish so that “this terror will haunt them for an extended period of time”.

Brushfires are a natural occurrence in Australia, but arson is suspected in at least some of the fires. Read this . At least two arsonists have been caught re-setting fires after they had been gotten under control. Those arsonists, one of whom is a teenager, do not seem to be jihadists.

How easy it is to wreak havoc! How vulnerable we are!