Fwd: Missionary Zealots' New War on Iraq
- What do people think about this???
>User-Agent: Microsoft-Entourage/10.1.1.2418Kristen Cheney
>Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2003 09:37:37 -0700
>Subject: Missionary Zealots
>From: "Conal Guan-Yow Ho (=?ISO-2022-JP?B?GyRCMj80JzEmGyhK?=)"
>X-UCSC-CATS-MailScanner: Found to be clean
>Have we not learnt anything from history? So here now certain Christian
>groups are bent on converting Iraqi Muslims to Christians. Quel horreur!
>(from The Globe & Mail, Canada's national daily)
>U.S. missionaries plan 'spiritual warfare' when fighting ends
>By DOUG SAUNDERS
>Wednesday, April 9, 2003 - Page A7
>Washington is trying to portray its battle as one of liberation, not
>conquest, but Iraq is about to be invaded by thousands of U.S. evangelical
>missionaries who say they are bent on a "spiritual warfare" campaign to
>convert the country's Muslims to Christianity.
>Among the largest aid groups preparing to provide humanitarian aid to Iraqis
>are a number of Christian charities based in the southern United States that
>make no secret of their desire to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and win
>over Muslim souls.
>The largest of these is the Southern Baptist Convention, an ardent supporter
>of the war as an opportunity to bring Christianity to the Middle East. It
>says it has 25,000 trained evangelists ready to enter Iraq.
>"That would [mean] a heart change would go on in that part of the world,"
>Mark Liederbach of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary said in a
>recent speech to the SBC. "That's what we need to be praying for. That's how
>a Christian wages spiritual warfare."
>Such words have caused deep alarm among military and diplomatic authorities.
>Although Christian aid organizations have worked comfortably alongside
>secular groups in other conflicts, Muslims around the world are already
>suspicious of U.S. motives in Iraq, and the worry is that missionaries could
>reinforce the widespread popular belief that the war is really a "clash of
>civilizations" between Christians and Muslims.
>Muslim groups say they believe the presence of evangelists is a sign that
>President George W. Bush is trying to impose his own evangelical
>Christianity on Muslims. It does not help that Mr. Bush became a born-again
>Christian with the assistance of Billy Graham, the founder of the SBC.
>"This is creating a real serious problem of perception: Here we have an army
>invading Iraq, followed by a bunch of people who want to convert everyone to
>Christianity," said Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on Islamic-American
>Relations. "How's that going to look in the Muslim world? And how's it going
>to look that this guy says Muslims are evil and he's the guy who works with
>Mr. Hooper was referring to Mr. Graham's son, Franklin, who runs the SBC.
>The younger Mr. Graham, who delivered the invocation at Mr. Bush's
>inauguration in 2001, has repeatedly gone on the record describing Islam as
>Mr. Graham has recently been more tolerant of Islam, but he has made it
>clear that the conversion of Muslims to Christianity is a goal for his
>"I believe as we work, God will always give us opportunities to tell others
>about His Son," he told the religious newsletter BeliefNet last week. "We
>are there to reach out to love them and to save them, and as a Christian, I
>do this in the name of Jesus Christ."
>In response to criticism, many Christian aid groups, including Mr. Graham's,
>have toned down the religious messages.
>In one major project, Baptist families have been asked to put together "gift
>of love" food boxes designed to provide a month's worth of basic nourishment
>to a family of five. "Please do not place any additional items/literature
>inside the box," the families are told.
>While many evangelical aid workers are motivated by humanitarian desires,
>their mission statement makes it clear that they are required to attempt
>conversions: "It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win
>the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle,
>and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ."
Doctoral Candidate in Anthropology
University of California at Santa Cruz
Social Sciences I Faculty Services
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064