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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Forced embrace of Islam familiar refrain

By Ted Byfield, by courtesy of the Calgary Sun online It was awfully decent of the media not to ask that kidnapped Fox News correspondent and his cameraman, forced by terrorists to embrace Islam as the price of being freed, whether or not they had been Christians.

Two weeks ago, Steve Centanni, 60, an American reporter, and New Zealander Olaf Wiig, 36, a photographer, were abducted by something calling itself the Holy Jihad Brigade.

They were released in Gaza City last week after converting to Islam on videotape and at gunpoint.

They said they had been tied hand and foot in an abandoned garage, and forced to lie face down on the floor.

They went through this "conversion" process on threat of execution.

Precisely what this consisted of was not reported. Presumably, they were required only to repeat the single-sentence creed of Islam: "There is one God, Allah, and Muhammad is his Prophet."

Now if these men were typical of their profession (and mine), there was little to be concerned about in this "conversion."

That is, they would not have been Christian, but secularist.

They would regard all religious "belief" as a matter of personal sentiment, subject to change when one's sentiments changed, and utterly speculative -- meaning, whether there's a God or there isn't is anybody's guess.

Fact and truth have nothing to do with it.

They would have reasoned: "If these wing-nuts want us to say something about Allah, or anybody else, then why the hell not? Say it, if it gets us out of here. Say anything they want us to say."

Given their outlook on life, can you blame them?

But if they were Christians, that's very different.

To proclaim Muhammad as "the Prophet of God" implicitly elevates Muhammad above Jesus Christ, and therefore constitutes a denial of Christ.

The New Testament is not at all reassuring about this. "If you deny me, I will deny you," says Jesus, referring to the final judgment -- something, he says, all of us will face.

So it was, as I say, exceedingly kind of the media, not to ask these two about their own religion.

Their not doing so, however, might not have been out of kindness. More probably, it never occurred to them to ask.

Which also tells us something about the religion of the reporters who covered the story of their release.

Am I suggesting, therefore, that these two men, if they had been Christian, have consigned themselves to hell by submitting to the terrorist demand?

No, because who does and does not go to hell is not for us to decide, said Jesus.

We're not to "judge" people. All we can do is quote the relevant Biblical evidence.

The name Centanni, of course, is almost certainly Italian, which is interesting because the last Italian that Muslim terrorists confronted with such an ultimatum responded in a somewhat different way.

Hooded, videotaped, and threatened with beheading, he tore the hood from his head, thrust back his shoulders, and declared: "Let me show you how an Italian dies."

Furious, the terrorists shot him dead on the spot, rather than behead him.

Why were they so angry?

Because he was showing them he had greater courage than they had, and they didn't like having their faces rubbed in that fact.

Most Christians are aware that in the first 300 years of their history, tens of thousands of us were presented with such ultimatums.

They were ordered to burn a pinch of incense to the "god" Caesar.

If they did it, they were instantly released.

If not, they were sent as slaves to the mines, effectively a death sentence. Women and boys were consigned to the brothels. Both men and women were often put to death by public torture.

So many refused and suffered so courageously, they eventually converted the whole empire to Christianity.

But many yielded and denied their faith.

In the end, the Church agreed to re-admit them as penitents.

But some Christians refused to re-admit them.

These became known as the Donatist heretics, and the Donatist church endured for more than 200 years.

So what would you do, Byfield, in such a circumstance?

How could I know?

But I'd be in no doubt whatever about what I should do. The gutless bastsrds should have taken the chance to show these assholes for allah that they were MEN, but NO they have to cave. They must had no faith to begin with or a poetaster's faith if it was so weak as to not sustain them in captivity.

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