By Brig Samson S Sharaf
Nothing could have hurt the interests and interfaith bridges of the minority Christians in Muslim majority countries more than this new guise of a Drone. It is ironic that a country built on the humanitarian values accrued from the American Civil War has plummeted to a low which does not respect human life, beliefs and values so long as it is invisible to its domestic audience; to the contrary, a country that fails to reign its own radicals in the name of human rights.
USA represents a country on a high on global domination be it policy, military strategy, economics, society and religion. It is this ultimate objective that puts its diversity together and helps selective exploitation to meet these ends. US could not care less if churches in the Muslim Crescent are burnt, ransacked; or foreigners killed in Afghanistan as reaction to a heinous crime committed by Terry Jones; leading a small cult rather than representing a religion that professes love and peace as its main teachings.
The power juggernaut that it has become, US global policy of dominance has resulted in making all corners of the world restive. The US that was, has since departed from its policy of pluralism and egalitarianism to liberalism that exploits its own interests. It is a pity that a country that once stood and fought a civil war for the human dignity and that is built around diversity, is now responsible to kindle hatred built around apathy of other denominations/religions particularly Catholicism, Protestantism and Islam.
Like the main US power houses that behold power and influence, its evolving religious values also represent these aspirations in tandem. Unlike the European Nationalism of the 19th/20th Century, the Nation-State of USA has since been overtaken by its jingo-liberalism wherein a coterie of very strong individuals and corporate exercise the ultimate in policy making. Consequently, this liberalism has also encouraged to minimise the hold that the mainstream Catholic and Protestant Churches have over the society thereby encouraging the mushrooming of nuclear churches that abhor Canonical Laws and charter their own interpretations and prophesies. By default or otherwise, USA implements its policy on two opposites i.e. the strength of diversity within and a knack to stir a hornet’s nest abroad to keep the world destabilised.
A large portion of the growing evangelical churches in USA centre on individuals with cultish outlook; the Modernist evangelicals, a small minority with low levels of church attendance, and much more diversity in their beliefs intensified by the rise of the electronic media to claim instant notoriety. Despite the fact that this mushrooming appears a reaction to the exclusion of religion in state policy drifting towards secularism, much of the foreign policy and global dominance policy of the past 50 years alludes to the support the state gets from this lobby. These religionists believe that that America is indeed a millennial nation and perceive it as the harbinger of the perfect 1,000-year reign of God. For them the 21st Century is the beginning and coincides with the US global ambitions. Unfortunately, this penchant is incendiary than creative; that make these hate spewing and cultish denominations like the Dove World Outreach Centre a cause of public and international concern.
As Dr. Frank K. Flinn writes that this millennialism has contributed untold variety to the lively experiment of religion in America. Without a doubt, American preachers continue to espouse a healthy-minded apocalyptic faith with a paranoid style in politics. In his opinion, it is most distressing that the present day apocalypticism has the ever-increasing tendency to materialize the dense and symbolic language of the Bible as minions of the beast. Most often they refer to the Catholic Church and its papacy as the whore of Babylon or to defy the Bible by allowing Hollywood to produce films like ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ and the ‘Da Vinci Code’, blasphemous and banned in Pakistan.
What Dr. Frank has not written, is the tailspin this millennialism could land the world in, with regards to Islam and the strong faith Christians that coexists within it for centuries. US evangelist keen to spread their ideology and to destroy Babylon to which the whore belongs, ignore the fact that Iraq was one country where Christians and Muslims had peacefully coexisted on the basis of equality for hundreds of years. After the US invasion, over 400,000 Christians have already left while many more live in perpetual fear. Much like the countryside Iraq, the interfaith bridges and harmony between Muslims and Christians has been destroyed in. Terry Jones now expands this threat to Christians from Ethiopia to the Straits of Malacca putting this Interfaith Bridge to extreme testing. USA could care less for indigenous Christians, if this destabilisation serves to promote UN sanctioned military interventions in the region for global domination of resources.
Cults and millennial movements have from time to time caused shocking events such as mass suicides. James Warren known as Jim Jones, the founder and leader of the Peoples Temple was responsible for the mass suicide on November 18, 1978 of more than 900 Americans that included a Congressman. In 1997, 39 members of the “Heaven’s Gate” organization committed suicide together in an event designed to coincide with the arrival of the Hale- Bopp comet. Unnoticed, many such cults discriminate and harass Muslims, Jews and Christians seen as the anti Christ all over USA. With the availability of the electronic media, they have global reach spewing venom and hate in traditionally tolerant societies.
On its part the mainstream Christian Churches have acted in unison within themselves and their Muslim brothers to condemn the incident.
The Vatican reacted by saying that terrorism cannot be counteracted by an outrageous and grave gesture against a book considered sacred by a religious community and that very religion has the right to respect and protection. "Everything he is doing here is a violation of the Gospel," declared Rev. Ed Rowe of Detroit's Central United Methodist Church USA while Rev. Charles Williams, Sr. of King Solomon Church USA said that too many barriers had been torn down, and that we love Muslims, we love Jews. We love all God-fearing people. Jones own daughter claimed the church abused its members. She told the Gainesville Sun in 2009 that she spoke out "with the hope of helping others leave what she calls a 'cult' that 'forced us with oppression to be obedient.”
Christian Church Leaders all over Pakistan joined their Muslim Brothers in condemning this high blasphemous act through rallies, press conferences and media appearance. They declared that self styled preachers and cults like Terry Jones were neither Christians nor represented the Catholic values of love and respect.
It is time that the USA and its States enact and implement laws to control these religious cults and showmen. We Pakistanis of Christian faith denounce the blasphemous and incendiary act of Terry Jones and demand of the US legislators and UN Security council to take cognizance of it in the best interests of all faiths and declare such acts equivalent to crimes against humanity.