Last week I wrote an article on my blog titled “Candy-Assed Christians.” Fox News kindly republished it, albeit with the somewhat less exciting (and less jarring) title “Evangelicals Need to Stop Being Wimps.” The column was a clarion call for Christians, Christian men most of all:
“The term [Candy-assed] fits the kind of Christianity that has infected the Church and sapped it of its vitality and strength. The expression might offend the sensibilities of some of my readers to which I can only say, it might fit you. I urge you instead to be offended by the way our God’s name is blasphemed in our country every day; by the 54 million children murdered in the holocaust of abortion since 1973; by the sordid sexual agenda that is eroding the very fabric of Western civilization; by the fact that Christians are dying for their faith, largely at the hands of Muslims, at a rate of 100,000 per year; and, most of all, by the reality that these things are being ignored, trivialized, or celebrated.”
I implored Christians to remember their commission to be salt and light, agents of change and instruments of good, and to mobilize, taking with them into the world The Good News.
The article was well received and was widely circulated on social media:
@Zoo9guy tweeted me:
“How the heck have I never heard of you?? Loved your op-ed on @Fox News #URNotCandyAssed”
I don’t know, Zoo9guy. Apparently, my habitat is in a corner of the cultural zoo that you haven’t visited until now. Feed me.
Kristina @BivsNY said:
“Breath of fresh air!”
I like this characterization, Kristina. Thank you. My wife tells me that every day when I come home.
“Amen! I just read your article. And again, I say, Amen! I don’t believe God likes what I call ‘Mr. Rogers’ Christians.”
I suspect God did like Mr. Rogers who was, after all, ordained in the Presbyterian Church in the United States. But I get your point, Mike. Captain Kangaroo was in the Marine Corps, and God surely loves Marines more than PCUSA ministers.
Awala sent this to our website:
“[I] am a Nigerian, I want to greatly appreciate you for all you are doing for our Faith.”
That is because you, Awala, are from a country that is at the heart of the slaughter of which I spoke. You know what is happening to Christians there. Jwan Zhumbes, who is the Anglican Bishop of Bukuru, Nigeria, recently told me of burying his parishioners in a mass grave after they were murdered by the Boko Haram.
And this leads me to Khadija, a Muslim reader, who sent this to me:
“I recently read an editorial you wrote on Fox News about your take on Evangelical Christians. I am a Muslim and can clearly see through your rallying call that Christians are dying at Muslim hands at a rate of 100,000 a year as nothing but pure lies. The Islam I know teaches that to kill one human is like killing all of humanity. It’s a sick, evil thing to advocate violence and hatred toward Muslims or anyone for that matter. Please, if you’re a sincere believer in God and an afterlife, for your own eternal welfare, just stop.”
I take Khadija’s objection to be sincere. But sincerity does not trump truth. After all, one can be sincerely wrong. And that is the case with Khadija’s objection and her (mis)use of the Quran.
Firstly, I did not invent the story of Christian annihilation by Muslims. Writing for Spectator (UK), John L. Allen calls the global persecution of Christians “the unreported catastrophe of our time.” Allen cites the Society for Human Rights and Pew Forum to support his argument. “The carnage is occurring on such a vast scale that it represents not only the most dramatic Christian story of our time,” says Allen, “but arguably the premier human rights challenge of this era as well.”
According to the Global Terrorism Index, there has been a fivefold increase in fatalities from terrorist acts since 9/11. Four groups are responsible for most of these. All of them are Islamic.
As for the Quran, these groups seem to know it and its interpretation better than Khadija. In her email, she quotes Surah 5:32:
“We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land—it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one—it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.”
President Obama loved this verse, too. And why not? It sounds so good. Only it doesn’t mean what he and Khadija think it means. Here Allah is not saying that this rule applies to Muslims. It is referring to the Jewish people and their own rabbinic laws. Regardless, Khadija should have kept reading. The next verse removes any ambiguity. Surah 5:33 says:
“Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment …”
This passage authorizes violence against non-Muslims. It is why Iranian writer Amir Taheri says, “There can be no peace between Islam and whatever is not Islam.” Historian Andrew Hussey says that Islam resembles “a ruthlessly efficient war-machine rather than a religion.” This description fits both its history and the current geopolitical situation. So, no, I did not mischaracterize Islam and I certainly did not “advocate violence and hatred toward Muslims.”
On the contrary, I called on Christians to fulfill their duty to defend the weak, and here that means the unborn and persecuted peoples all over the world. For two millennia, the Christian faith has served as a bulwark against barbarism, and it must become that once again.
Finally, to Khadija I say this: I am a sincere believer in God and I do believe in an afterlife, and it is for my own eternal welfare—and yours—that I cannot stop.
Larry Alex Taunton is a cultural commentator, freelance writer, and the author of The Faith of Christopher Hitchens and The Grace Effect. You can follow him at larryalextaunton.com or on Twitter @larrytaunton.