The effort among some Christian churches to meet with Muslims and dialogue about faith is a betrayal of the basic foundations of Christianity, asserts a critic of the developing trend.
“Useful idiots,” is how Christian talk show host and Muslim analyst Ingrid Schlueter assessed the participants in a recent interfaith dialogue session between the Acts 29 Network-affiliated Harambee Church and MAPS, the Muslim Association of Puget Sound, a group that has connections to the Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR.
WND previously reported an expert on the advance of radical Islam in the United States says the Muslim Brotherhood is effectively employing a strategy of presenting “Islam lite” to organizations, including Christian churches.
The Muslim Brotherhood is the Sunni transnational movement founded in Egypt in 1928 that has spawned most of the major terrorist movements in the world, including al-Qaida and Hamas. It’s aim is to make Islamic law supreme over the world.
The recent church plant, a spinoff of Seattle’s Mars Hill megachurch, recently started a series of interfaith dialogue meetings with MAPS. Schlueter said there are complications.
“Harambee Church is pastored by Michael Gunn, who was a former pastor at Mars Hill Church. When I saw that they had actually worked with CAIR to sponsor this event I was shocked and really horrified,” Schlueter said. “I know something of the background of CAIR. It’s very clearly a group with terrorist ties, so much so that the government won’t even work with them as of last year. They were named as unindicted co-conspirators in the Hamas funding case the government was investigating.
“I just couldn’t believe that a church would actually serve as a propaganda base in effect for this Muslim group, what many call a Hamas front group in an evangelical church,” Schlueter said.
Listen to an interview with Ingrid Schlueter:
A source in Washington state who is close to the Acts 29 Network says another reason the series of interfaith dialogues is a cause for concern is the Acts 29 Network’s and Pastor Mark Driscoll’s connections with Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren. The best-selling author of pastor of the Lake Forest, Calif., megachurch also is involved in interfaith dialogue, Schlueter said.
Driscoll has participated in conferences at Warren’s Lake Forest, Calif., church and was listed as a speaker at Saddleback’s Radicalis conference for youth in February.
Driscoll’s assistant declined to forward WND messages to Driscoll’s voice mail and recommended WND fill out a request on the church website to obtain comment. But Driscoll has not replied.
“It was April 20 when Rick Warren was at a Los Angeles synagogue with a group of imams and the rabbi from Temple Sinai. They were having an interfaith dialogue there,” Schlueter said. “This is happening. Whether it’s Mark Driscoll’s Acts 29 churches or whether it’s Rick Warren, this is a growing trend and it disturbs me,” the Crosstalk host said.
She said an April 22 edition of Jewish Journal included a photograph of Warren in which he appeared to be wearing a Muslim prayer cap.
“When I see photos like this, I see the influence of Islam in the church has gone a lot further than we think,” Schlueter said.
A spokesman from Warren’s Texas-based publicity firm, A. Larry Ross Communications, said Warren was wearing an Ethiopian Jewish cap in the photo.
Observers said while that may be the case, it leaves a questionable impression.
A Massachusetts pastor who asked not to be identified said real interfaith dialogue means being who you are.
“In real interfaith dialogue, each person brings their distinctives to the dialogue. Warren’s donning of the Muslim cap in the synagogue is compromise,” the pastor said.
Schlueter says appearances are important.
“It still looks like a kufi or taqiya, the Muslim prayer cap. But it doesn’t matter if it’s a yarmulke or an Islamic prayer cap. The point is that because he’s sitting with a group of imams, a lot of people will think it’s a Muslim cap,” Schlueter said.
“When you do interfaith dialogue, you be who you are. So why didn’t he
participate as an evangelical Christian? Why did he compromise and wear something that will bring confusion?” Schlueter asked.
It was a year ago when Warren addressed the Islamic Society of North American convention, explaining he wanted to promote interfaith cooperation.
“I am not interested in interfaith dialogue but interfaith projects. As the two largest faiths on this planet – more than 1 billion Muslims and 2 billion Christians – as Muslims and Christians, we must believe in this. As more than half the world, we must do something to model what it is to live in peace, to live in harmony,” Warren said in his ISNA speech.
Not all Christian leaders are alarmed by the developments. Harambee Church associate pastor Michael Ly, who’s also the vice president of Peace Catalyst International, said the event was primarily to build relationships.
Ly said the event focused on discussing the two faith’s perspectives on who Jesus is, but its purpose wasn’t specifically aimed at evangelism.
Listen to an interview with Michael Ly:
“The event was to make more friends in the community and we have many neighbors who are our neighbors. There are as many as 75,000 to 100,000 Muslims in the Seattle-Puget Sound area. They’re our neighbors,” Ly said.
Ly said that CAIR officials didn’t actually speak at the event, but were instrumental in helping organize it.
He said Washington state CAIR chapter president Arsalan Bukhari introduced him to the MAPS Redmond leader, “but from that point on, wasn’t super heavily involved in organizing the event.”
“But Arsalan helped get the Qurans we used,” Ly said.
Calls and e-mails asking for comment on this story from Bukhari’s office have not been returned.
Ly said the event was successful, and he maintains that the dialogue session achieved its objectives and opens the door for future evangelism opportunities.
“There were a lot of new friendships made between Muslims and Christians who were at the event. We’re going to continue to have ongoing dialogues with the MAPS Muslim community as well as ongoing dialogues about Jesus and other parts of our respective faiths with other Muslim communities through the Seattle area,” Ly said.
Leaders of the Acts 29 Network and Warren aren’t alone in their satisfaction with the trend toward interfaith dialogue.
Former Michigan Rep. Mark Siljander recently published “A Deadly Misunderstanding: A Congressman’s Quest to Bridge the Muslim-Christian Divide.” He’s also the founder of the Virginia lobbying firm Global Strategies.
Siljander said the Harambee Church’s actions and others like it are a positive step.
“I’m very encouraged. As a believer myself, I’m very distraught over the strategy, not theology, applied by most Christians toward Islam. Outspoken Christians like Franklin Graham and others have caused tremendous and unnecessary gulfs between Christians and Muslims,” Siljander said.
Graham recently was banned by the military from appearing at a National Day of Prayer event at the Pentagon because of his criticism of Islam’s violence.
“Most Christians for the most part, the outspoken ones, will criticize Islam, their book and their prophet and say, ‘Let’s sit down and talk about Jesus.’ Needless to say, that doesn’t work,” Siljander said.
“In the book that’s been out 14 months now, I say that we discovered that if you sit down with not only a respectful attitude, with Muslims, their holy book, their prophet and the culture, and do so with the enthusiasm about the person of Jesus, we find that the Holy Spirit will take hold and bring the conversation where He wants it to take,” Siljander said.
Schlueter, however, calls such meetings simply propaganda tools for radical Islam.
“Evangelical Christians are not seeing the false concept first of all of the interfaith services, where we share our view about Jesus and then the Muslims share their view about Jesus, is completely alien to the example in Acts chapter two,” Schlueter said.
“The apostles got up and preached Christ crucified, the hope of the world. What we’re seeing now is ‘let’s sit down and talk about your view about of this and let’s watch how you pray with your prayer rug and we’ll show you how we pray as Christians and we’ll all go away and have some tea and cookies.’ That’s not evangelism,” she said.
“We’re not calling for hatred or intolerance or anything of that nature. But I do believe it is wrong for Christians to go knocking on the door of a local mosque or local CAIR office and say we’d like to have a Muslim official come to our church and we’ll sit and talk,” Schlueter said.
“What they’re doing is being useful idiots for propaganda purposes by CAIR with its terrorist ties and effort to promote Islam within the United States, the rule of Islam and the promotion of shariah law. If Christians are not going to be more discerning than that they are serving as useful idiots and promoting a doctrine that is counter to the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” she said.
Pamela Geller publishes Atlas Shrugs, which along with Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch, reports on developments of Islam in the West.
Geller said any CAIR involvement should be of concern for a Christian.
“CAIR is a Hamas front, an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas funding case. Hamas is a jihad terrorist group. Several former CAIR officials are now in prison for terrorist activities. The FBI won’t work with CAIR anymore, and is in fact investigating CAIR,” Geller explained.
Geller also makes the tie between CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood.
“The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has called CAIR the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S. CAIR’s ties with the Muslim Brotherhood were, in fact, entered in evidence in the Holy Land terror trial. The Muslim Brotherhood’s stated goal is one world living under Islamic law,” Geller said.
CAIR headquarters in Washington
“The Quran teaches that Christians are under Allah’s curse for teaching that Jesus is the Son of God. The Muslim call to prayer calls Muhammad a messenger of Allah, and Muhammad taught that Christianity was just a twisted version of Islam. So what were the leaders of Harambee church thinking? What do the leaders of the Harambee church think of the worldwide persecution, oppression and subjugation of Christians living in Muslim lands?” Geller asked.
“By working with Hamas-tied CAIR, and letting the Muslim call to prayer sound in their church, they’re showing their weakness and ignorance of the Islamic jihad program to conquer and subjugate Christians and other non-Muslims. They have submitted. They’re cutting their own throats, and aiding their own worst enemies,” Geller said.
They report the training manual for CAIR includes information about Jesus.
Among the materials CAIR distributes in its outreach efforts in the U.S. is the book “Jesus: Prophet of Islam” by Mohammad Ata-ur-Rehman and Muslim convert Ahmad Thomson. CAIR also launched a $60,000 advertising campaign on Florida buses with the message Jesus was a Muslim. The signs read: ‘ISLAM: The Way of Life of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad.”
One Islamic expert who formerly worked with the U.S. government on terror said Muslims even use the writings of disaffected Christian.
“Muslims are making use of Bart Ehrman’s commentaries on the New Testament, books that now deny the authority of the New Testament and portray Jesus as simply a man,” he said. “You will never hear a Muslim say that Jesus is the Son of God.”