Increasingly, the world is engaged in choosing sides. I see it in the harsh tone of today's political and religious dialog (a charitable description), the sharper and more biting commentary in print and on the Internet, and the letters I get from readers about my own column.
I am not alone in feeling this – many of you have echoed the same observation following the Bush vs. Gore presidential election of 2000. Time, it seemed, stood still as we focused on butterfly ballots, counting the military vote and legal shenanigans. It almost seemed that God was sifting the evidence.
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This view is borne out by the media obsession with George W. Bush, his Christian faith, and the way in which it informs his views of the world and affects his decisions. Yet every president during my lifetime has claimed to be Christian and attended church. Even Bill Clinton visited church between sessions with Monica in the Oval Office. Why the big deal about religion, and why now?
In a post 9-11 column, I wondered aloud how the U.S. response to the twin towers and Pentagon bombings might have been different, had Al Gore been elected president. Judging by the vehement anti-war response, and Democratic leadership criticism of Bush's terrorism response – first over Afghanistan and now Iraq – we can suggest that a "Gore as president" response would have been dramatically different. Yet during the election, Al Gore made no secret of his Christian faith. Would his post 9-11 policies have met with the same media criticism? One wonders.
Time Magazine, it appears, has decided to get to the bottom of all this "faith in action" stuff. They have announced to their bureau chiefs that a major story on Christian missionaries working in Muslim countries is under way. The memo, obtained by WorldNetDaily, outlines Time's editorial approach: "At the very instant when American relations with Muslim states is most sensitive, a group of Americans with a rather different set of goals has been flocking to the region, engaging Christian evangelization, which many Muslim-majority states have ruled illegal."
In an era when most mainline media outlets have abandoned reporting the news in favor of channeling public opinion in the hope of directing events, Time's approach stands out as particularly insidious. The tone of their memo indicates that senior editorial staff have made the decision that American-Islamic relations will be best served by getting Christian missionaries out of Muslim countries. Toward that end, Time intends to "feature" Evangelical Christian missionaries working in hostile, totalitarian Islamic regimes. The net effect will be to force them to leave those countries, or stay and pay with their lives.
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"We will touch on all kinds of missionary work in Muslim countries ..." write Time's editors, "But we will eventually narrow our focus to a more radical crew of proselytizers ..." They go on to ask, "Do the missionaries feel that their goals are consistent with those of the U.S. The State Department must occasionally bail out missionaries. During the Gulf War, Gen. Schwarzkopf was furious with Christians who tried to smuggle Bibles into Saudi Arabia. Things are tenser than ever since 9-11 and because of Iraq. Is it appropriate for Christians to be further complicating the issue?"
Ah, there we have it: the bottom line. "Is it appropriate for Christians to be further complicating the issue?" Time's agenda in this piece stands out like Rudolph's nose on a foggy Christmas eve. Christians, whether they be missionaries overseas or president of the United States, "complicate" things. We raise those pesky issues of morality, personal and governmental responsibility, humanity's ultimate fate after death. Questions, one and all, that secular humanists are loathe to discuss. Why? Because it might upset their comfortable lifestyle, call into question their actions and challenge them to provide evidence for their claims that mankind is accountable to no one for its actions.
Time has chosen sides. The larger issues – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and Muslim proselytizing in U.S. jails, for instance – are never even touched upon. The lesson of Daniel Pearl of the Wall Street Journal seems to have been entirely lost on Time's writers and editors. Time seems content to do radical Islam's bidding in denying the Muslim world a choice between Jesus and Muhammad. This is a particularly despicable approach by an organization operating under cover of freedom of assembly, the press and religion.
God is increasingly sifting nations and people – indeed, the whole world. As He does, each of us will fall into one of two camps, depending entirely upon our response to Jesus Christ. God will push nations, organizations and people until the middle ground disappears. It is His intent to find where our loyalties lie. With this decision, Time has left no doubt into which camp they fall. Time's battle is now with God.