Given all the evidence that has come out about Muslim terror perpetrator Khalid Masood, one might expect some straightforward conclusions leading to investigations over why Islam seems to engender so much hatred and violence against the rest of the world (as of today, over 30,500 lethal terrorist attacks by Muslims worldwide since 9/11). However, that apparently would be too rational a conclusion to reach.
Three days after the attack, Deputy Assistant Metropolitan Police Commissioner Neil Basu declared that most likely Masood acted alone (though at that point eleven others had been arrested in the ensuing investigation). He noted that authorities needed to establish “with absolute clarity” why Masood committed these atrocities so as to provide answers to victims and their families and to calm the nerves of the nation. However, he concluded his remarks with this singularly inept remark: “We must all accept that there is a possibility we will never understand why he did this. That understanding may have died with him.” Doesn’t the fact that ISIS has been calling Muslims to rise up against the Western world with precisely these kinds of attacks give Mr. Basu a clue? Doesn’t the fact that core Islam presents its prophet as commanding his followers to strike terror in the hearts of the unbelievers lend a further clue as to this terrorist’s mindset? Would the Western world be so willfully blind if the perpetrator had been an anti-abortion activist who murdered abortion providers and was killed in the process? Would we settle for “There is a possibility we will never understand why he did this. That understanding may have died with him”? Please. Don’t insult our intelligence with this drivel.
A second example comes by way of tweets from a “journalist” by the name of Doug Saunders, presently the international affairs columnist with The Globe and Mail, a daily Canadian newspaper.
Mr. Saunders, who seems to be vying for either the title “Parser of the Year” or “Master of the Non Sequitur,” offers two inane arguments to divert attention away from the obvious issue of Islam as the leading cause of terrorism.
The first hinges on the meaning of the word “was” (shades of the Bill Clinton defense!). Saunders notes that the Westminster attacker was born Adrian Elms, and so obviously “was” not a Muslim at the start of his life. Apparently Mr. Saunders hopes his readers don’t pay close attention to his words (I concur with this hope), and will simply read quickly over the phrase “…was not a Muslim” and assume that Islam had nothing to do with this latest event. What Saunders means of course is that Masood did not start out his life as a Muslim. Leaving aside the quibble that in Islamic theology it is believed that all human beings are born as Muslims, but most drift away because of family or societal influences, so that if they come back to Islam as adults their return is known as a “reversion” rather than a “conversion, Saunders acknowledges that Masood started life as Adrian Elms, not as Khalid Masood. The real point that the columnist refuses to recognizes is this: Masood was not a Muslim at birth, but at some point consciously became a Muslim, and it was this decision that led to his bloodstained rampage across Westminster Bridge and the Parliament grounds one week ago.
Secondly, Saunders claims, whether accurately or not, that most UK Muslim extremists are not Muslim by background but rather converts from Christian families! The implication is that this common thread must be the cause of their bloodthirsty violence against others, no doubt because they remember Jesus’ teachings to kill the unbelievers wherever you find them, to put the sword to the necks of all who refuse to recognize him as Lord and Savior, to cut of the hands and feet of all who oppose the advance of the gospel, to strike terror into the hearts of his enemies, and to use subterfuge as a way to gain advantage over others because, after all, war is deceit.
Oh wait, I’m mixed up. It was Muhammad who commanded those things. Jesus said, “Love your enemies; pray for those who persecute you; do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you; he who lives by the sword will die by the sword….” So how could the Christian background of these converts to Islam somehow drive them to such hateful violence against others? And if Christian beliefs are the true source of these evils surfacing in Muslim converts, then why don’t we see Christians with ten, twenty, forty years of commitment to Christ leading the terrorist charge across the world? Christianity is after all the religion with the largest number of adherents in the world.
The real truth is that Islam is the compelling factor which moves converts to become jihadis. If Muslims argue that these converts have gotten it all wrong, then it is up to them to do a better job training those they enlist in their religion by showing them that when Muhammad commands them to kill the unbeliever, he doesn’t really mean it. I wish them good luck.
The other truth which Mr. Saunders second tweet unintentionally conveys is a true indictment against the Church. Why is it that anyone from a Christian background would ever turn to Islam as a better alternative? Is our example and teaching so insipid concerning what it means to follow Jesus that many conclude the gospel is boring and that a life given to supremacy over others whether by sword or coercion is a better alternative?
The Western Church must shake off our worldly self-satisfaction and return to living for the Kingdom of God as exemplified in the life of Jesus and made possible by His indwelling Spirit. Until we do that, we bear some of the blame for those within earshot of the gospel who turn away in disappointment to go find their meaning in something else. We don’t have the luxury to remain strouthian in our discipleship!