Dedicate yourselves to thankfulness. Colossians 3:15

Monday, August 30, 2010

Would this mosque be America's undoing?

Published in Cumberland Times-News Sunday, August 29, 2010.

"So how can a radical Muslim who pledges fidelity to the Koran and (spiritual, if not physical) death to Christians and Jews lay such an impassioned claim to the U.S. Constitution?"

Many believe the Ground Zero mosque symbolizes militant Islam and threatens to undo America’s Judeo-Christian tradition.

On Oct. 22, 2001, six weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Associated Press religion writer Rachel Zoll reported that Muslim organizations aim to redefine America’s heritage.

Zoll writes that a post-9/11 study commissioned by the American Jewish Committee shows Muslim organizations in America inflate their numbers, by more than double, to exceed six million.

Six million Jews live here, and by claiming more, Muslims “would buttress calls for a redefinition of America's heritage as 'Judeo-Christian-Muslim,'” ACJ Director David Harris tells Zoll, “a stated goal of some Muslim leaders.”

President Obama’s Aug. 13 mosque endorsement barely got air until Nihad Awad, director of the Washington lobby, Council on American-Islamic Relations (criminally implicated for Hamas support), called other national leaders “to speak out in defense of the freedom of religion…enshrined in our Constitution” (USAToday, Aug. 14).

Our unique Judeo-Christian Constitution establishes America as the world’s grand experiment in religious freedom. Muslim countries do not embrace this concept. So how can a radical Muslim who pledges fidelity to the Koran and (spiritual, if not physical) death to Christians and Jews lay such an impassioned claim to the U.S. Constitution?

Hypocrisy? Mockery? Deception? Would a scoundrel like Awad set out to transform America, in a covert 21st century Conquest? (Google “taqiyya.”)

If not, then he might consider a well-reasoned, common sense precedent in this matter.

In 1984, Carmelite nuns set up a convent in a former administration building at Auschwitz. In 1993, they moved, because Jewish sensibilities -- nearly half a century after the holocaust -- were offended.

The sisters had a legal right to stay, and they had a rightful mission: Praying for the souls who died there, among whom were Polish Franciscan priest St. Maximilian Kolbe (starved Aug. 14, 1941) and Polish Jewish convert and Carmelite nun St. Edith Stein (gassed Aug. 9, 1942).

One of the controversial Carmelites was an Auschwitz survivor. Among more than a million who perished at Auschwitz, 149 were Catholic religious (, May 24, 2004) and 600 were Catholic Jews (, Feb. 13, 1999).

Dr. Ady Steg, a French Jewish leader at the time, blasted Catholic officials: "[T]he Carmelites come to Auschwitz to exalt the triumph of the Church” (Los Angeles Times, June 22, 1987).

Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, the son of Polish Jewish immigrants to France, whose mother died at Auschwitz, and Polish Pope John Paul II, who narrowly escaped Nazi capture, empathized.

The nuns relocated to a convent built for them across the street. It houses an information center about the Jewish holocaust.

The nuns, though, did not set out to destroy the country from within. The Muslim Brotherhood, with whom Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf allegedly has ties, does.

In his Sept. 9, 2007 Dallas Morning News commentary, Rod Dreher quotes from an 18-page Muslim Brotherhood document, seized by the FBI:

“The process of settlement [of Islam in the United States] is…eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ their miserable house…so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all religions.”

Earlier credit goes to San Ramon Valley (Calif.) Herald reporter Lisa Gardiner for quoting CAIR founder Omar Ahmad on July 4, 1998: “The Koran…should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth.”

If Cordoba House is legitimate, then true moderate Muslims might say, “Move it.” But if those involved, like Awad and Abdul Rauf, intend this mosque to be the axis for America’s undoing, and for world domination by Islam, then we all should say, “No way.”

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Liberation theology politicizes Christianity

Published in Cumberland Times-News Tuesday, July 27, 2010.

"Jesus says our Father sent him to stir up the social order, to raise up
the poor and scatter the proud. But Jesus’ radical idea of revolution is a
spiritual wave of individual conversions. The savior’s poverty, and power, is a humble spirit."

Jesus teaches us that our personal relationship with him is the heart of our service to others (Lk. 10:38-42).

Today in America, perhaps emboldened by a President who champions their beliefs, liberation theologians -- and not just black adherents -- are ramping up efforts to remake Christianity into a politicized Christology.

Considering the movement’s genesis, it is unsurprising that President Obama has found friends at University of Notre Dame, where liberation theology founder Gustavo Gutierrez holds a prestigious professorship in the Kellogg Institute for International Studies.

Rev. Gutierrez’ bio at the Institute web site lists Latin America as his focus and “[t]he historical background and continuing theological relevance of the preferential option for the poor” as his current research topic. Gutierrez, a Peru native, is a Dominican priest.

Most associated with the Jesuits and 1960s insurgency in El Salvador, liberation theology hit a high pitch with assassination of San Salvador Archbishop Oscar Romero, killed March 24, 1980 because he publicly called Christian Salvadoran soldiers to obey God’s order and honor human dignity, and not follow government orders to oppress, abuse and kill countrymen.

A 12-year civil war ensued. Among 75,000 killed were six Jesuit priests, murdered in their home Nov. 16, 1989.

Fr. Jon Sobrino was not in the rectory that day. He continues to work and teach in El Salvador.

Two of Sobrino’s books published in 1999 are the subject of a Vatican notification to the faithful of March 14, 2007. Fr. Sobrino’s work with the poor is “admirable,” the Vatican writes, but he strays from church doctrine in his theological “presuppositions” that humanize Jesus Christ and neglect his divinity and “the salvific value of his Death.”

Fr. Sobrino’s material, rather than spiritual, view of Jesus and his teachings constructs the premise of liberation theology: That Jesus manifests social liberation from economic and political injustices imposed on the downtrodden by their oppressors -- not personal redemption from sins of immorality.

Along with Gutierrez and Leonardo Boff of Brazil (a former Franciscan priest twice admonished by Rome), and Juan Luis Segundo of Uruguay (a Jesuit priest, deceased in 1996), Sobrino was instrumental in formulating this humanistic view of social justice into a modern liturgy.

These liberation theology creators supposedly gained inspiration from the Vatican II document, Lumen Gentium: “the Church encompasses with love all who are afflicted with human suffering and in the poor…sees the image of (Jesus). It does all it can to relieve their need and in them it strives to serve Christ” (Chapter 1, paragraph 8).

Consider Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Like Fr. Gutierrez and the others, she lived among the world’s poorest outcasts and devoted her life to improving their condition. Unlike the priests, however, she embraced Jesus’ spiritual poverty, his acceptance of suffering and surrender to God’s will, and his divine power to show us the way to heaven.

Jesus says our Father sent him to stir up the social order, to raise up the poor and scatter the proud. But Jesus’ radical idea of revolution is a spiritual wave of individual conversions. The savior’s poverty, and power, is a humble spirit.

Salvation history, Jesus teaches, is God’s domain, not man’s. Our monumental spiritual task in our puny human existence is to transcend injustices with charity and forgiveness.

Largely diminished in Latin America after Rome’s 1984 rebuke of Marxist (and underlying atheist) concepts, liberation theology remains a current among liberal Catholics and a prominent force in American black churches.

Among notable U.S. liberation theologians is Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose 1990 sermon “The Audacity to Hope” inspired the beliefs of longtime Trinity United Church of Christ member Barack Obama.