Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Pisteutics: Conversion: Death a 'clash of civilizations' proof, right to convert & proselytize a human basic

Abdul Rahman, the Afghan convert to Christ turned over to Sharia judges who themselves have little leeway (given their juridic sources), and perhaps have even less courage to break with the Muslim rule requiring the death penalty for turning one's back on Mohammed's "revelation," cannot deter the USA, Canada, and our other NATO allies from pursuing the total defeat of the Taliban and Al-Quaeda in that country. At the same time, however, the irony of fiting to preserve the beginning of Afghan democracy when the country's extensive Sharia-bondage leads a family to turn one of its own members over to authorities to face the death penalty for converting away from the family's Islamic faith, cannot be lost on any of us. Remember, there are Christians among the Canucks and Yanks and other coalition forces. There are atheists too among our combined forces there, we may presume. No one escapes from the irony, especially Mr Rahman, a fellow believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Afghanistan has a way out, as I understand the matter. Its legislature can pass a civil law which stays/stops all Sharia trials for apostacy from the state religion and conversion to another–while asserting the inviolable right to convert, to proselytize under certain conditions without penalty, and to be free of coercion, either to remain adherent to or to become nonadherent to one's original religion–precisely in order to adopt another, including even a secularist one (anti-religion ideologies which thereby become religions of their own).

There's no way thru the present situation without inflaming a significant part of the Afghan and worldwide Islamic population. And already people of many religions, certainly Christians in North America are inflamed and are tempted to swing into Islamophobia of a worse kind than already prevails.

Our first duty, I think, is to pray for Brother Abdul, that the Lord may show himself in a very close way to this witness for the faith, and strengthen him for the ordeal (including the inevitable publicity now), and the possiblity of a trial in which Sharia itself will be on trial. And our second duty in North America is to write, email, fax and visit our legislators and to participate in mass demonstrations if they're called on this continent, demos on Mr Rahman's behalf (all those of us able to participate). Most important: we must let Prime Minister Harper and Foreign Minister MacKay in Canada, and President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice know that only a forthright affirmation of the right to convert and, under certain conditions, to prozelytize is acceptable. Otherwise, there is no end to the clash of civilizations between the West and Islam; in such an instance we should prepare for a Hundred-Years War.

Maverick rightwing Christian blogger LaShawn Barber has fumed furiously on this subject matter, and has drawn an inpour of sometimes furious but always supportive responses. Hat Tip to her and to Christopher Taylor for his comment on LaShawn's blog, regarding the legal situation in Afghanistan:

This case is actually a test, to see if the legislature is willing to pass a law protecting people who believe in faiths other than Islam. The constitution of Afghanistan recognizes Islam as the official state religion (dated I know, but at least it’s a step forward from what was before). It states explicitly, from what I understand (I don’t read their languages) that Islamic Law is followed unless there are state laws that say differently.

So Afghanistan has a choice: pass a law protecting people’s freedom of religion, or slide slowly and brutally back into the 14th century. The choice is theirs, thanks to the coalition led by President Bush. Let us pray and hope that they choose wisely. [Comment #42]

Sad to say, I think a lot of Christians are going to get this matter terribly wrong–more railing aganst Islam and Sharia, and Afghanistan and its government, and President Bush and Prime Minister Harper (the latter Western leaders for urging us to support our troops there rather than bringing them home with a snap of the fingers. Prayer, patience, diplomacy, and pursuit of the War against Terrorism on all fronts against all obstacles is our best counsel at this very critical moment, meanwhile showing also our respect for everything good in Muslim life and culture. - Politicarp

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