2010: Suggestions for LDS Interactions with People in the Middle East and their Descendants and Followers in the United States and Orange County / Steve St.Clair

Stephen St.Clair’s Suggestions for LDS Interactions with People in the Middle East and their Descendants and Followers in the United States and Orange County

Based on my work in  Interfaith Relations  for Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and my own studies for many years, my approach to people and groups in the middle east and their co-believers living in the United States and the west will be, IN THIS SEQUENCE:

 

1. New Muslim-Background Christians in Islamic Societies and the West

New Christians converted from Islam are becoming a common phenomenon in the Muslim world.  Islamic estimates are that they are happening at about 6 million conversions per year, and are of great worry to Muslim officials in Saudi Arabia.  There are approximately 3 million new Christians in Iran, a million or more in half-a-dozen countries, and even 100,000 in Saudi Arabia. Many have been converted by seeing visions or having dreams of Jesus Christ.   Many are in small Charismatic house churches, in countries in which they would be persecuted or killed if they were known.

As a Latter-day Saint Christian (not a member of a fourth Abrahamic religion), I celebrate this, and will support the new Christians of Muslim origin, and their success.  I believe that this will solve the LDS Leadership’s dilemma of how to proceed in the Muslim world.  In all the countries of the global south, the Latter-day Saints thrive and grow as Charismatic Christianity thrives.

2. Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Christians in the Middle East and the West

We need to support the original Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Christians, and support their growth in their middle-eastern homelands and in their new places of residence in the west.  From many years of genocide and persecution at the hands of the Islamic population in their homeland, many of them have left their homelands and are living by the millions in the West (particularly the U.S.) They know that, if the United States becomes secular like Europe, and then Islamized as is happening in Europe, they have no where else to go.

Middle-Eastern Catholic Scholar Samir Khalil Samir on Islam’s Problems and Solutions

Dr. Samir was born to an Eastern Catholic family in Egypt; educated in France; a Jesuit (a member of the scholarly Society of Jesus); founder and director of a leading academic center on Eastern Christianity, St. Joseph’s University in Beirut, Lebanon; a world expert on the Arabic language and Islam; the advisor to Pope Benedict XVI on the subject is Islam; author of the book 111 Questions on Islam: Samir Khalil Samir on Islam and the West , and an Advisory Board member for Daniel Peterson’s Eastern Christian Texts Initiative at Brigham Young University. He understands Islam’s challenges as well as anyone alive; and also how Western civilization and Eastern Christianity can be crucial components in solving them.

  • Read virtually all of his book 111 Questions on Islam in Chapter-sized posts on my blog at the links below:

  • Other invaluable articles by Dr. Samir:

Historical and ongoing  persecution, marginalization, and genocide against Middle-Eastern Christians


3. Jewish People in Israel and Around the World

The Jewish people were the foundations from which Christianity sprang, including providing more than half of the Christian Bible. They are also part of the Judeo-Christian culture from which Western Civilization resulted, and the ones to whom Orson Hyde’s prayer of dedication promised some part of the Holy Land. My favorite classes as a BYU undergraduate were Biblical Hebrew and graduate seminars on the Old Testament by Kent Brown.  My five years of graduate work at Claremont Graduate School was in Old Testament and Early Judaism, including a year of Hebrew and a course in Aramaic.  90% of my library consists of books in the Jewish tradition, including the Mishnah, the Talmud, and as many midrashic works and books of Jewish Liturgy, inter-testamental literature, Jewish spirituality and Jewish mysticism as at the Hebrew Union College Library. I have very close relationships with Jewish academics and Jewish congregational leaders.   If that makes me a classic Latter-day Saint Judeophile, I am.  Any suggestion of antisemitism or Judeophobia or Israelophobia will cause a strong counter-reaction; and I sometimes encounter it among academic and LDS Islamophiles. The Jewish people’s historical and current persecution by Islamists has been staggering. So I will support the Jewish people in Israel and wherever they are.


4 .  Mystical Islam, Sufi

Sufism is an open, intellectual interpretation of Islam.  Here is an entirely indigenous and homegrown Islamic resistance movement to fundamentalism, with deep roots in South Asian culture. Its importance cannot be overestimated. Could it have a political effect in a country still dominated by military forces that continue to fund and train jihadi groups? It is one of the few sources of hope left in the increasingly bleak political landscape” (RAND Corporation Report)

We should support followers of the mystical branch of Islam, the Sufi’s; many of their followers in the west are exploring forms of this ancient practice that are true to Islam but compatible with democracy and pluralism. They are under frequent persecution in radically-oriented states such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Muslim India, and Egypt.


5.   Bahai’, a Post-Radical Form of Shi’a Islam

We should support Bahai’ism, which originated from a Shi’a background in Iran and offers a post-fundamentalist interpretation of religious pluralism, compatibility with science, and compatibility with democracy. They are also under extreme persecution in Iran and Egypt. Their safest haven in the Middle East is .. You guessed it … Israel.


6.  Islamic Reformers in the Middle East

We should support the Islamic Reformers in the middle east, and advance them in every way. Reformers among the leaders of Sunni and Christian leaders in Lebanon, Kurdish leaders in Iraq, and moderate leaders in Jordan, and Morocco, are trying to build a form of Islam that can co-exist with the modern world There are also numbers of reformers among the more highly-educated in many Muslim countries.


7.  Islamic Reformers in the United States and Europe

We should support the Islamic reformers in the United States and Europe. There are genuine reformers trying to build forms of Islam that can flourish in the west and be compatible with democracy and pluralism. They are frequently marginalized by radically-backed elements who have taken control of much of Islamic leadership here. They include the following and many more:

  • Dr. Ali A. Allawi, a senior visiting fellow at Princeton University. He has just been named one of the first two Gebran G. Tueni human-rights fellows at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. His latest book, The Crisis of Islamic Civilization, was published in March by Yale University Press. see his article Islamic Civilization in Peril.

  • Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, Chairman, Board of Directors, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Phoenix, Arizona.  Dr. Jasser is the narrator on the movie The Third Jihad and makes frequent appearances on The Glenn Beck Show, among many other news organizations.  Being on his website’s e-mail list is the best way to keep informed on the day-to-day progress of reformers and problems with Islamists in the U.S.  He has just instituted a Youtube channel for excellent video content. YouTube Channel- AIFDtv.

  • Sheik Dr. Ahmed Subhy Mansour, President, International Quranic Center , Virginia.  President of the Free Muslims Coalition His description of Islam: “We find Islam has the same values as the West: freedom, unlimited freedom of speech, justice, equality, loving, humanity, tolerance, mercy, everything. This is our version of Islam, and we argue that this is the core of Islam according to the Koran.”

  • Dr. Abdulaziz Sachedina, core member of the Islamic Roots of Democratic Pluralism Project in the CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) Preventive Diplomacy Program and a key contributor to the program’s efforts to link religion to universal human needs and values in the service of peace-building. He serves on the board of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy. Currently, Dr. Sachedina is the Frances Myers Ball Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia.

  • Imaad Malik, Fellow, Center for Islamic Pluralism ; founder of the Islamic Millennium Foundation, an independent nonprofit public policy organization in Washington, DC

8. Proxies for Islamic Radicals in the United States

  • C.A.I.R.
  • American Muslims for Palestine
  • The Islamic Society of North America,
  • The Muslim Students Association

  • See the speech by Congressional Committee Ranking Member Frank Wolf on the “Human Events” magazine site; Who Is CAIR?

Mosques and Islamic Centers funded by and thus infected by Wahhabi Money from Saudi Arabia (80%, according to a  Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson)

  • See an article about the extent of  Wahhabi influence in Mosques and Islamic Centers, Higher Education, and the prison systems on the Stephen Silverberg website at this link: The Wahhabi Invasion of America.

Islamic and Middle-Eastern Studies Centers and  Chairs at many Institutions of Higher Learning in the U.S. funded by billions of  dollars of Saudi-Arabian money

Hizb ut-Tahrir, Anaheim, California

The Islamic Educational Center of Orange County, in Irvine, California


Problems with Islam in History and in Our Time as recognized by eminent  scholars

BYU Professor Daniel Peterson’s Opinions on the problems of Islam

BYU Professor of Islamic Studies Dr. Daniel Peterson works to build bridges with Muslims.  But he also recognizes serious problems in Islam’s history and present that cannot be swept under the rug.

  • Watch on YouTube his debate with Robert SpencerIslam: Threat or Not? which Robert described as “boring because we agreed on almost everything.”

  • Dr. Peterson describes himself as having been a reader of National Review since he was very young,and his favoring of the American interventions in Iraq and Afganistan.

Opinions of the “New Atheists” on the Problems of Islam

Proponents of the “New Atheism” are hard on Christianity, but much harder on Islam.  The “Islamic Insights” website describes it in these words: “This brings us to the second major innovation of the new atheism: its opposition to Islam. Atheism is a rejection of all religion, or at least of all theistic religion, and since Islam is usually considered a theistic religion, atheism is in principle opposed to it. However, as a phenomenon with its roots in Europe, atheism has in the past concentrated its opposition to religion on Christianity. The new atheism, by contrast, emphasizes Islam as a particularly virulent form of religion that must be opposed. Often, the new atheists claim that because of the events of 9/11, they feel compelled to take a strong stand against religion in general and Islam in particular.”


Steve’s suggested changes in Interacting with Middle-Easterners and their descendants in the U.S. and Southern California

  • I suggest that we identify Muslim-background believers in Jesus Christ in Southern California, and strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ and help them adapt to Christianity and life in the West.  Some possible southern California contacts would include:

  • Pastor Sohrab Ramtin – Iranian Christian Church of San Diego, Mission Valley Chapel, 6964 Mission Gorge Road, San Diego, CA 92120; (619) 583-8295
  • Pastor Payame Aramesh – Iranian Christian Message of Peace; P.O. Box 3239 Tustin, CA 92781; (949) 707-0200;e-mail  KeshishHamid@yahoo.com
  • Philadelphia Persian Church; Worship Service Sundays at 4:00 pm; 3000 W. MacArthur, Suite 150; Santa Ana, California 92704; (949) 955-1777
  • Pastor Azim Shariat – Persian Church Love Assembly (meets at the Covenant Presbyterian Church); Worship Service: Sundays at 6:00 PM; 1855 Orange-Olive Road, Orange, California 92865;  Mailing Address: P.O..Box 7313 Orange, CA 92863; (714) 777-1212

  • I suggest that we continue to identify and build relationships with Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Christians.  When their interests and success are threatened or harmed by those of Islamists, as they frequently are, we should take their part.  Some possible southern California contacts would include:
    • Archpriest George Morelli, Ph.D., Assistant Pastor at the St George Antiochian Church in San Diego, who is also Chairman, Department of Chaplain and Pastoral Counseling (one of the seven departments for Antiochian Orthodoxy nationwide) with offices in Carlsbad; he is also the California chapter president of the Society of Saint John Chrysostom,; e-mail gmorelli@fdu.edu
    • Mounir Bishay, President of the Los Angeles based Christian Copts of California as well as Vice-President, American Middle-Eastern Christian Association (AMCA), Southern California (the Public Affairs organization for all the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches); 1407 Foothill Boulevard # 235, La Verne, California 91750, Telephone (909) 392-1111: http://www.middleeasternchristian.org/ ; e-mail Mounir.Bishay@sbcglobal.net

    • Dr. John Mark Reynolds, Professor of Philosophy at Biola University who is a member of many years of an Antiochian Orthodox Church, St. Michael’s Antiochian Orthodox this Church in Whittier.  His father is Subdeacon Elias Reynolds. E-mail john.reynolds@biola.edu

  • I suggest that we work to identify and spend most of our time interacting with Muslims with a true reformist approach that will co-exist with modernity, pluralism, and democracy.  Some possible Southern California contacts would be:

    • Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl is one of the world’s leading authorities on Islamic law and Islam, and a prominent scholar in the field of human rights.   He is the Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Professor in Islamic Law at the UCLA School of Law where he teaches International Human Rights, Islamic Jurisprudence, National Security Law, Law and Terrorism, Islam and Human Rights, Political Asylum and Political Crimes and Legal Systems. His book, The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists, was the first work to delineate the key differences between moderate and extremist Muslims.  E-mail:  abouelfa@law.ucla.edu

  • I suggest that we phase out continuing interactions with C.A.I.R. and the local organizations that are made up of predominantly C.A.I.R. supporters; and avoid future contacts with people and groups associated with Hizb ut-Tahrir in Anaheim and the Islamic Educational Center of Orange County, in Irvine, California.
  • I am aware that the Muslim Student Association at U.C .Irvine makes life miserable for the Jewish students there.  I plan on throwing light on their unpleasant and unkind activities.

 

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Filed under Anti-Semitism, Christianiy Global South, Eastern Christianity, Islamic Reformers, Israel, Muslim Background Christians, Radical Islam

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