Annie Laurie Gaylor is co-founder (with her mother) of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (1978 — Madison, Wisconsin). She is married to Dan Barker, author of Losing Faith in Faith, a defunct Pentecostal preacher who now is about as radical and irrational as it is possible for an atheist to be. Apparently, theirs is a marriage made-in-skepticism. It’s a toss-up as to which spouse out-blasphemes the other. Ms. Gaylor is the author of the 1997 volume, Women Without Superstition: “No Gods — No Masters.”
Gaylor was a recent guest on one of the Fox News evening programs, her views being solicited relative to the September 11th terrorist attack. She charged that religion per se generates tragic acts such as those that occurred that day. Specifically, she equated Christianity with Islam, asserting that both advocate violence.
Ms. Gaylor’s allegation demonstrates an inexcusable level of ignorance, a deliberate distortion of the teaching of Jesus Christ, or a mixture of both. There is a stark contrast between Christian teaching and that of Islam — in many particulars — but especially in terms of how one is to treat his enemy, and how he is to engage religious antagonists.
The Teaching of Jesus
When Peter sought to defend the Lord with a sword, Christ rebuked him, and warned that they who take to the sword shall perish by it (Mt. 26:52). In the waning days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, Pilate asked the Lord whether or not he was a king. In essence the Savior answered affirmatively, yet adding:
“My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered unto the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from hence” (Jn. 18:36).
When the Son of God was treated to a hateful series of abuses preliminary to his death, he did “no violence” (Isa. 53:9). On the cross he even prayed for his killers: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34).
The marvelous Galilean Teacher declared that those who live as “peace-makers” are blessed (Mt. 5:9), and he instructed his disciples to love their enemies, and return good for evil (Mt. 5:38-48). The apostles of Christ were persecuted bitterly, and yet there is not one sentence in the New Testament that suggests they retaliated with violence in defense of the Christian system; rather, benevolence toward the enemy was the consistent response (Rom. 12:17ff).
Paul, teaching by the authority of Christ (1 Cor. 14:37), declared that the religion of Jesus Christ is promoted and defended by spiritual weapons only. He wrote that “we do not war according to the flesh (for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds). . . .”
Christians engage false ideas, theories, imaginations, teachings, etc., which exalt themselves against the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:4ff). We do not fight our opponents in “flesh and blood” conflicts; rather we engage the enemies of Christ with spiritual weapons on ideological battlefronts (Phil. 3:18; Eph. 6:12ff).
With Mohammed, however, the matter was entirely different, as illustrated from both the Qu’ran (which purports to be a revelation from God through the angel Gabriel to Mohammed), and by means of the bloody history of the so-called “prophet.”
First, consider the following from the Qur’an (translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Islamic Propagation Centre International, 1946).
“Fight in the cause of God those who fight you . . . slay them wherever ye catch them . . . But fight them not at the sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; But if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith . . . And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail . . . Let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression” (Sura II.190-193).
In this connection, remember this. The devotees of Islam believe that those who encroach upon their territory, teaching that their system is not of God, are opponents worthy of persecution. The enemy does not have to be “armed” to be dangerous, and to incur their bitterness.
Again from the Qu’ran:
“Fighting is prescribed for you . . .” (II.216).
“Then fight in the cause of God, and know that God heareth and knoweth all things” (II.244).
“Let those fight in the cause of God who see the life of this world for the Hereafter. To him who fighteth in the cause of God, whether he is slain or gets victory — soon shall we give him a reward of great (value)” (IV.74).
“Those who believe fight in the cause of God, and those who reject Faith fight in the cause of Evil” (IV.76).
“Fight them on until there is no mor [sic] tumult or oppression . . .” (VIII.39).
“Apostle! Arouse the Believers to the fight . . . they will vanquish a thousand of the Unbelievers: for these are a people without understanding” (VIII.65).
“. . . fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)” (IX.5; cf. 12-13).
“Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, (even if they are of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya [a tax for those who do not accept Islam] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” (IX.29).
So much for the news media’s propaganda that this peaceable religion engages in conflict only in self-defense!
Mohammed: He Practiced What He Preached
Mohammed himself is the best commentary on his violence toward those who would not accept him as “the prophet” of Allah. Any good encyclopedia (e.g., Britannica) will detail the military endeavors of this Arabian bully who hijacked the name of God as cover for his self-glorifying maneuvers.
Doubtless there are many of the Islamic culture today who are not militaristic in temperament. We applaud them for that disposition. They cannot maintain it, however, and be true to their “Prophet.” One cannot be a true Muslim and distance himself from the man who claimed to be Allah’s spokesman on behalf of the system.
These precious souls would do well indeed to repudiate that “apostle” and “prophet,” and embrace God’s true Apostle and Prophet (Dt. 18:15-17; Acts 3:22ff; Jn. 4:19; Heb. 3:1).