Stranger in a strange land

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on November 14, 2001

Well, it's just one post after another. I wish I had time to write this stuff earlier in the day, but with work being the way it is, I really didn't get time to do it. Normally I'd put this in some sort of bulleted list and just post once, but I'm still working on bringing my html skills up to snuff, so I'm just going to do separate posts for the time being.

It was great to wake up this morning and see that the Northern Alliance had driven the Taliban southward and out of the capitol city of Kabul. What was disappointing, however, was that the eight foreign aid workers were taken with the fleeing troops. I've been praying for their release ever since they were captured. It is troubling that there are still many countries in this world (mostly Arab) that do not allow people to worship God as they please.

I caught a few minutes of "Dateline NBC" on Wednesday night. A couple of talking heads, I have no idea who they were, were talking about the work that the aid workers from Shelter Now were doing. The talking heads also discounted the possibility that the two Americans, Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer had actually been trying to convert Muslims when they were discovered and arrested. Why did the talking heads make this claim? I'm guessing that they were trying to make Curry and Mercer look as innocent as possible. I don't think that they were innocent of the charges. The materials they had were in the local languages, Pashto and Dari. If they were for Curry and Mercer's own consumption, they would have been in English. I don't care how fluent you are in another language, I don't think there's any reason to have these sorts of materials in your possession if they are for English-speaking persons.

The truth of the matter is that I'm sure that Curry and Mercer were trying to convert the Muslims that they were found with. The fact that the media and their American apologists would want to, or would have to try to make it seem innocent is troubling. Why should people be prohibited from hearing or learning about other religions? Eight years ago, I went with a couple of my fraternity brothers to the Muslim equivalent of a Bible study. We discussed the Quran, how Muslims view Jesus Christ and a variety of other issues. In America, I, a Christian, was free to go to a Quran study and learn about Islam. (I was puzzled by the microphone that was in the room -- it wasn't until later that I realized that our discussion was being piped into a nearby room for the women.) One of the Muslims in the room was a white guy, a former Roman Catholic, he told us, who had converted to Islam. Now, I'm sure that this guy's conversion to Islam caused some ripples with his friends. Maybe he was ostracized, but nothing that happened to him, I'm sure, compares with what Christians who convert from Islam must suffer in the Middle East.

In most Muslim countries, Bible studies must be done in secret...or Christians die or, if they are foreigners, are expelled from the country. In recent article in the National Review, Julia Duin recounts some of what Christians must go through in what passes for a more liberal, tolerant Muslim country:

We got to sample this during an interview with Akel Biltaji, then minister of tourism for Jordan. All was serene until he was asked why Muslims were not allowed to change their religion in Jordan. Muslims could convert to Christianity, he said smoothly, but they must expect to suffer, if not die for their new faith. After all, he added, Christ died for them.

One could almost hear jaws drop around the room. He was quite cold about it.

That is Jordan. King Abdullah of Jordan has lived in the United States. He even had a bit role in a Star Trek episode. He is probably as Westernized as an Hashemite Muslim can be, yet, in the country that he rules Christians can be killed for their beliefs.

The United States' ally, Saudi Arabia, is far worse. Bibles are not allowed into the country and converting to Christianity is punishable by death.

A popular civil rights refrain in the 1960s was "No Justice, No Peace." Well, in many of these Middle Eastern countries, I fear that there will be no peace until there is freedom. Freedom from totalitarian regimes. Freedom to worship. Freedom to believe.

It is not a natural part of the human condition to be chained under the yoke of oppression.

Let Freedom Ring.

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