Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Is ISIS Islamic?

You may think the question “Is ISIS Islamic?” strange. “Of course they are Islamic. What else could they be?” might be the reply. Let’s take a look at that question in some depth.

ISIS followers are Islamic in name, culture, and religious background. However, they break many rules of Islam in their brutal killing of innocent people. They don’t even show mercy to fellow Muslims, engaging in wholesale killing of surrendered soldiers and even burning alive that Jordanian pilot. Since they disobey Qur’anic rules, I don’t think we can consider ISIS to be representative of Islam or to be religious in any way. They are using Islam for their own nefarious purposes: to gain power, territory, and legitimacy.

Having said that, I believe our struggle is a spiritual one to a large extent. If they are invoking their god, then shouldn’t we be praying to God for help and protection? Ultimately the battle is the Lord’s. (see future post on spiritual warfare)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Does Obama Love the U.S.?

Former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani made a statement the other day to the effect that President Obama doesn’t love America. I believe I know why he said that, so let me try to provide some insight. I think there are several points to consider.

1. Obama is a liberal (also known as a progressive). Liberals tend to be internationalists, and this can make them appear to be less concerned about their own country. Liberals tend to be less outwardly patriotic than those on the right.

2. Obama’s pastor in Chicago made anti-American statements in some of his sermons, mainly because of our history of slavery and oppression. This may have influenced Obama to not be as outwardly patriotic as some might expect from the President of the United States.

3. Some may view him as an apologist for Islam, meaning he’s defending Islam from those who blame Islam for what is being done in its name.

4. He’s been exposed to Islam much more than the average American, and that makes some feel he’s too sympathetic to Muslims (which we see in his speeches per point number 3 above).

5. Lastly, we need to understand the difference between a person’s attitude towards his or her country, and his or her criticism or opinion of the government, our culture, our history, or the administration. All citizens need to recognize and come to terms with our country’s flaws and its history, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love our country. We can and should seek to improve our government and make politicians more accountable to the voters. We do that out of love for country, not because we hate it. We want our country to be the best it can be.

While we should love our country and be loyal to it, our first priority as people of faith must be to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We can’t elevate country (or anything else) above God. If we shut God out of our country (as militant atheists are trying to do), society will lose its moral foundation and will continue to deteriorate. Now, more than ever, we need strength from above to fight the battles against terrorism.

I think Giuliani could have worded his criticism of Obama a little better. Because it was such a personal criticism, Rudy ended up becoming a lightning rod for all kinds of criticism. Some felt it was a low blow and inappropriate. As a result of all this, why don’t you and I step back for a minute and think about how we show our love for our country?

Do we vote?
Do we correspond with our representatives on a regular basis to give our opinion and keep them accountable?
Do we pray for our country on a regular basis?
Do we pay our fair share of taxes?
Do we help the less fortunate?
Do we try to be more “green” to help conserve our natural resources?
Do we stay informed of what is happening at all levels of government?