- Christianity, Islam and British Politics
- A lecture given at the UK Conservatism Conference
- Oxford Brookes University, Saturday, 26 November 2005
- Dr Alan C. Clifford
- BA, MLitt, PhD
A glut of highly significant secular and religious autumn anniversaries provides a stimulating context for my subject. Using more broadly the now-universal convention of identifying momentous events like New York’s ‘9/11’, Madrid’s ‘3/11’ and London’s ‘7/7’, I cite first some famous secular examples from more distant history. First, we may recall ‘10/14’, the Battle of Hastings, the last of four major invasions of the British Isles in a millennium by ‘Europeans’ – 1066 and all that, of course! Then, more positively in this bicentenary year, there’s ‘10/21’ when ‘Europe’ was on the receiving end of Lord Nelson’s decisive broadsides at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Not until 1940 was this country seriously threatened again by a foreign power. I pass by ‘10/25’ in 1415. Agincourt, Henry V and the savage nationalism of the Hundred Years War warrant national shame rather than pride. Indeed, driven by the power-hungry Plantagenets, the whole era has something of an ‘Iraq War whiff’ about it! Another noted ‘10/25’ was of course the distant Crimean Battle of Balaclava in 1854. Inglorious for the British High Command, the heroism of ‘the six hundred’ is justly celebrated. Stepping into November, and closer to home, we rightly remember annually the enormous costly sacrifice represented by ‘11/11’, the Armistice of 1918, when the four-year horror of the First World War came to an end.
Turning to religious anniversaries of great national significance, ‘10/16’ should also be recalled, especially in this university city of Oxford. Indeed, looking back 450 years to the Protestant Reformation, both Oxford and the Nation should honour (among nearly three-hundred others in the reign of Bloody Mary) the heroic martyrdom of two bishops of the Reformed Church of England, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley in 1555. William Shakespeare never bettered Latimer’s words spoken to Ridley shortly before they were both burned at the stake: “BE OF GOOD COMFORT, MASTER RIDLEY, AND PLAY THE MAN; WE SHALL THIS DAY LIGHT SUCH A CANDLE, BY GOD’S GRACE, IN ENGLAND, AS I TRUST SHALL NEVER BE PUT OUT.”
Central to the Continental Reformation struggle, the French tragedy of ‘10/17’ – representing an era of persecution lasting three centuries – had a definite British impact too. The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes by King Louis XIV in 1685 sent Huguenot refugees all over Europe and beyond. To the severe detriment of France, a loss she still suffers to this very day, the French Reformed Protestants not only reinforced the Protestant ethos of this country. Their economic, technological, cultural and military expertise made them welcome immigrants indeed. October ends with ‘10/31’, the anniversary of Martin Luther’s protest against Roman Catholic superstition, idolatry, corruption and tyranny in 1517, a German ‘explosion’ which brought light and eventual liberty to much of Europe including Great Britain. Surely, without Luther, Latimer and Ridley would never have lit the candle of pure Christian truth in England. Last, I cite an event with decidedly secular and sacred significance – the Gunpowder Plot. Indeed, the wonderful deliverance of ‘11/5’ should never ‘be forgot’, especially in this quatercentenary year. Luther’s liberating work of the previous century might have been undone in a flash on that awesome day in 1605 if the Vatican’s Jesuit-inspired terrorists had been successful.
In distinguishing between two categories of events, I am not assuming that all the secular examples are without a religious dimension. The Gunpowder Plot is not alone in this respect. Indeed, let us remember that the Pope blessed William the Conqueror’s invasion of England. The same may be said regarding the first and second World Wars whose very long prehistory stretches back to the seventeenth century if not earlier. Yet in these ‘pc’ times, the BBC provided us with a ‘pc’ perversionist history of the Gunpowder Plot in the run-up to this year’s Guy Fawkes. The spin was highly predictable. To argue that we must avoid excluding groups from society on religious grounds or suffer the consequences is both naive and dangerous in the extreme. The simple fact is that the Roman Catholic conspirators of 1605 were enemies of the State professing allegiance to a hostile foreign power (both religious and political) which had excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I, gave carte blanche to her would-be assassins and backed the Spanish Armada in 1588. If the fate of the Vatican terrorists of ’11/5′ was gruesome over-kill, a nation thus threatened cannot afford to be lax over security.
In today’s political terms, an otherwise liberal democracy cannot tolerate those who abuse its liberality with violence. Such a threat was not lost on the framers of the Bill of Rights (1689) and the Act of Settlement (1701). In short, it was reasonably argued that a Roman Catholic, Pope-serving monarch is a threat to the political as well as the religious liberties of a free people. Since the papal agenda continued unchanged, was not the 1829 Catholic Emancipation Act somewhat naïve and premature? Did our legislators imagine that the threat had passed for ever?
When the Roman Catholic hierarchy was restored in 1850, Cardinal Wiseman resorted to Rome’s usual rhetoric, declaring to his clergy, “It is good for us, reverend brothers, to be here in England. … It is for us to subjugate and subdue, to conquer and to rule, an imperial race. We have to do with a will which reigns throughout the world, as the will of old Rome reigned once; and it is for us to bend or break that will, which nations and kingdoms have found invincible and inflexible. Were [protestant] heresy conquered in England, it would be conquered throughout the world” (R. F. Horton, Shall Rome Reconquer England? (1910), pp. 75-6).
In 1874, Cardinal Manning’s rhetoric became yet more menacing: “There is one solution to the difficulty if England will not bow to the Pope, and that is the terrible scourge of a Continental war, a war which will exceed any of the horrors of the first Empire. And it is my firm conviction that, in spite of all obstacles, the Vicar of Christ will be put again in his own rightful place. But that day will not come until his adversaries have crushed themselves with mutual destruction.” To cut a long story very short, via Vatican intrigue during two world wars and the rise of the European Union (see the French Catholic historian Edmond Paris’ The Vatican Against Europe), Rome’s anti-British agenda has never changed. So, ‘Remember, remember, the Fifth of November!’ – and set the UK free from the EU as soon as possible, preferably before Turkey becomes a member!
Why do I mention all this? For those who dismiss all I’ve stated as utterly outmoded jingoism, I hope they have detected a healthy Christian internationalism in my sketch of events. More than that, a decidedly Protestant Christian internationalism, unmoved as I am by Pope Benedict XVI’s haughty antichristian denial that Protestants have a valid churchmanship, ministry and sacraments (he is wrong, of course, as John Calvin would strongly remind us). Indeed, for some of the best features of British culture, we owe a great debt to the Protestants of Germany and France, not to forget the Netherlands (especially in 1688 to William of Orange and ‘the Glorious Revolution’).
Accordingly, as a Christian English patriot, I endorse the noble words of First World War Norfolk heroine Edith Cavell: “Patriotism is not enough.” I am also reminded of Dr Johnson’s astute observation: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” In short, the purest patriotism needs the purest Christianity. Invoking the highly-appropriate motto of Oxford University ‘Dominus illuminatio mea’ – ‘the Lord is my Light’ (from Psalm 27: 1; Vulgate, Psalm 26: 1), it is the Light of God in Christ, Jesus ‘the Light of the world’ (John 8: 12) that we need, as individuals and as a nation. Hence it is my thesis that Latimer and Ridley’s ‘candle’ represents all that is best and noblest in British culture – a heritage progressively betrayed by the secular establishment, undermined by a Vatican-inspired European ecumenism and now threatened by Islam.
While it is vital to remember all this history, the threat of Islam is but the latest assault on the hard-won Christian-based cultural, political and social values of the United Kingdom. In the wider Western context, some are speaking in terms of a ‘clash of civilizations’. Compared with our modern misty-eyed secularists, Sir Winston Churchill’s view of Islam – written in 1899 when he was twenty-five – needs little amendment in 2005:
“How dreadful are the curses which [Islam] lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in [Islamic] law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property (either as a child, a wife, or a concubine) must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen; all know how to die; but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, [Islam] is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science – the science against which it had vainly struggled – the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome” (The River War, 1899, ii. 248-50).
As a not-irrelevant digression, one amendment at least is necessary. Even as he was writing, science had become increasingly hostile to Christianity since the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859. Were he alive now, Sir Winston would be aware that the ‘strong arms of science’ are attempting to crush Christianity. However, the likes of professors Richard Dawkins and Steve Jones, and other atheistic propagandists like Jonathan Miller are really prophets of pseudo-science. Evolutionary theory – more religious than rational – is founded on fanciful speculation rather than empirical verification. As the popular creation scientist Ken Ham says, evolution is ‘The Lie’, an unscientific fiction so potent through tiresome repetition that many believe it. This is the falsehood which inspires modern atheistic secularism, powerfully challenged by best-selling Christian author John Blanchard whose tour de force explains why ‘God does not believe in atheists’. During Sir Winston’s early years, Darwinism was the dynamic behind late British Imperialist racism and would later inspire both Communism and Fascism alike. Sadly, by that time, Christianity had been weakened by liberal scholarship. Thus it ceased to offer a persuasive alternative to these destructive ideologies. By now, since secularism has largely robbed us of our Christian ethos, we lack the fire of true faith with which to oppose Islam’s false faith.
Regarding the scale and impact of Islamic terrorism, there can be no doubt that the Prime Minister was deeply shaken by the events of ‘7/7’ and ‘7/21’. Stating at a press conference that the rules had changed in favour of more stringent security arrangements, he was not slow to identify the bombers’ ideology as ‘evil’. One wonders if his private thoughts about Islam have changed in the last year. Or does he remain a victim of the kind of widespread deception British Muslims constantly deploy against the gullible public, as illustrated in the tragic killing of Ken Bigley. After arriving in Baghdad to promote his release, one of the UK Muslim leaders Dr Hussein said he believed in the ‘power of prayer’. Is this authentic Islam or were his words simply an attempt to hijack Christian language in order to deceive viewers about Islam’s true character? If Muslims believe in the power of prayer, why is Islamic history red with the power of the sword?
The glaring reality is that ‘militant’ Muhammad’s piety was very different from the seemingly ‘moderate’ Muslim cleric’s. Indeed, also providing a charter for today’s terrorists and suicide bombers, the Prophet declared in the Hadith (as cited in Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire):
“The sword is the key of heaven and hell: a drop of blood shed in the cause of God, a night in arms, is of more avail than two months of fasting or prayer: whoever falls in battle, his sins are forgiven: at the day of judgement his wounds shall be resplendent as vermillion, and fragrant as musk; and the loss of his limbs shall be supplied by the wings of angels and cherubim.”
In his double reference to Islam at the 2004 Labour Party Conference, the Prime Minister distinguished between militants and moderates, insisting that the former represent a ‘perversion’ of Islam. Did Muhammad therefore ‘pervert’ his own teaching? If not, then Mr Blair is guilty of misleading the nation over Islam as he misled us over the war in Iraq. While he argues that the causes of recent UK terrorism predate the Iraq war, he cannot deny that the now disastrous and discredited Bush-Blair policy at least aggravated the situation, giving Muslim militants all the excuses they need to hit back. So the question remains, “What then is the ultimate cause of Islamic terrorism if not Islam itself?”
Mr Blair needs to take history lessons from the former Spanish Prime Minister, José María Aznar whose party was swept from power after ‘3/11’. Aware of the history of al-Andalus (the Moorish occupation of Spain), Mr Aznar traces Islamic violence to its source. “There are those who think that the Madrid attacks are related to the support given by the Spanish government to the Iraq war,” he said in a speech in Washington, DC, last year. “The problem with al-Qaeda came from before that – as long ago as 1,300 years” (The Economist, 30 July 2005, p. 38). Exactly so! An ex-Muslim Iranian Christian also told me that Osama bin Laden represents the purest expression of original Islam. Since Mr Blair affirmed the Government’s intention to introduce so-called ‘religious hate’ legislation at the 2004 conference, does this mean that attempts to correct the misinformation of both himself and so-called Muslim moderates will become a criminal offence? Thus I wrote to the Home Secretary:
‘In view of the religious hate legislation proposed by your predecessor, I beg you to reconsider this highly contentious and problematic policy. Among other things, it will prove utterly unworkable. Apart from inhibiting freedom of speech, it is a recipe for unjust discrimination. While many of us suspect that the entire policy is intended to safeguard Muslim sensitivities, they themselves will not be exempt from accusation if the proposed legislation operates equitably. It seems that while Islamic beliefs are to be protected, Christian beliefs are to remain open to ridicule by all and sundry [e.g. the Springer Opera]. However, the fact is that the Qur’an itself is highly hostile to both Judaism and Christianity. Indeed, it arguably qualifies as religious hate literature. A single specimen makes this clear:
‘The Jews say Ezra is the son of Allah, while the Christians say the Messiah is the son of Allah. Such are their assertions, by which they imitate the infidels of old. Allah confound them! How perverse they are! It is He who has sent forth His apostle with guidance and the true faith to make it triumphant over all religions, however much the idolaters may dislike it’ (Sura 9: 30-3).
Therefore, if Muslims are themselves to avoid prosecution by others, I beg that you discontinue attempts to introduce the proposed legislation. It will only occasion religious and civil strife. If the Islamic community refuses to modernise by allowing open and mature discussion of religious ideas including their own without an unrestrained sense of outrage, they must expect similar complaints from the very faith communities they constantly threaten in their literature.’
It is no wonder that the Islamic community have requested that the Qur’an be exempt from prosecution. Neither was it a surprise that Charles Clarke was intent on pursuing his predecessor’s policy over ‘religious hate’ legislation. In Norwich, we had no doubts about his secular and multi-faith sympathies. Four years ago, on 16 February 2001, together with our assistant pastor Stephen Quinton, I attended a public meeting for city church leaders with the two Norwich MPs (the other being Dr Ian Gibson).
Invited to submit questions to the MPs, I asked: “In view of the on-going persecution of Christians in Muslim countries, does the UK Government intend to ask Islamic governments to grant the same tolerance and freedom to their Christian minorities as is currently expected and enjoyed by Muslims here in the UK?” The answer was simple: “The Government has no such policy.” Neither MP had any apparent qualms of conscience over the injustice of their stance. In view of the current Test Match series in Pakistan, should English players be there while Pakistani Christians are suffering for their faith at the hands of Muslims?
This was not to be my last encounter with the two Norwich MPs over Islam. When the Norwich Evening News gave extensive and prolonged coverage to my views on Islam in August and September 2004, Dr Gibson told me to ‘shut up’. Attending Charles Clarke’s surgery on 8 October, Stephen Quinton was told by the MP that he ‘deplored’ my August press statements about Islam. He did at least indicate that the form of my protest did not amount to an infringement of the legislative proposals currently being considered by the Government. Thus earlier calls for my prosecution came to nothing, and I remain undaunted and un-phased by the city’s double-barrelled political ‘big shots’! In an attempt to inform Mr Clarke about the nature of the Islamic threat, I sent him copies of all my Islamic documents. In a covering letter, I indicated that he was misinformed if he saw the Muslim community in the UK as a perpetual benign presence. In a brief reply, he concluded that we must ‘agree to differ’ on the issue.
Rather puzzled by this seeming sympathy for Islam, all was explained when I read Anthony Browne’s article ‘This sinister brotherhood – The Left’s love affair with the Muslim Association of Britain hides a frightening agenda’ (The Times, August 11 2004). This unholy political pact was confirmed by Mike O’Brien’s shameless admission that Labour must win back the Muslim vote it lost over Iraq (Daily Mail, 8 January 2005).
Whatever secularists or other religious commentators say about Islam, I am utterly persuaded that radical authentic Christianity alone provides the best basis for scrutinising and assessing it. Since Islam’s barbaric ideology is driven by a corrupt theology, non-theological criteria will never enable us effectively to challenge its claims. However unwelcome some might find the discipline, we must get beyond cultural, historical, social and political criticism. In short, we must go to the heart and ‘get theological’.
This involves recognising that Islam’s loveless and anti-Christian creed is to be attributed to seven grave defects. Chief among them is its blasphemous unitarian denial of the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, relegating Him to a mere prophet inferior to Muhammad. Second, among the Ninety-nine names for Allah, ‘God is love’ is not one of them. Thus Muslims shout of Allah’s greatness but they do not sing of his love. Third, the claim that ‘Allah is compassionate and merciful’ really teaches that he is fickle in excusing sin rather than justly forgiving penitents on the basis of a substitutionary atonement (as in Christianity). A case in point is the permission Allah gave to Muhammad to renege on his promise to his wife Hafsa not to associate sexually with a Coptic slave after she found him with her (see the Qur’an, Sura 66: 1-6).
Fourth, unlike the Judeo-Christian Scriptures in which the rigorous demands of Law are met by a generous provision of Grace, the Qur’an is all Law. Hence Islamic life is driven by a fierce and joyless legalism. Fifth, the vicious violence intrinsic to Islamic jihad is not an aberration. Unlike Christ’s repudiation of faith-propagating violence – “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight” (John 18: 36), Muhammad urges his followers to slay the enemies of Allah – “slay the idolaters wherever you find them” (Sura 9: 5). While medieval so-called Christian violence [in reality Roman Catholic e.g. the Crusades] was a lapse from Christ’s methods and thus condemned by the New Testament, Islamic violence is in perfect accord with Muhammad’s hostile directives. Sixth, concerning the character of the Qur’an itself, it cannot begin to compare with the contents and integrity of the Holy Bible. In view of its Jewish, sub-Christian and pagan sources, what is good in it is not original and what is original is not good. For every nice verse there are a hundred nasty ones. Last, the Muslim case in favour of the Qur’an that the documents of our New Testament are a corrupted version of an earlier original text of the Word of God collapses with their inability to produce such a text. Indeed, would God have allowed His Word to be lost without trace?
While the BBC lavishly entertains an increasingly decadent nation with the corrupt saga of ancient Rome, its secular anti-Christian agenda driving revisionist history, Islam’s conspirators continue to stockpile their terrorist powder kegs in the cellars of this country’s tolerant culture – with little or no protest from Roman Catholic, Anglican, ecumenical and multi-faith leaders. ‘Islamic Awareness’ events are helping the Muslim community to ingratiate themselves with the rest of us. If their efforts in Oxford this week are anything like the Norwich event in May this year, we need to be on our guard. The University of East Anglia paper Concrete carried a full-page promotion (Concrete, Wednesday, May 18, 2005). So I wrote to the editor as follows:
‘As a Christian minister in Norwich, I am gravely concerned at the deceptive and misleading information you published about Islam (Concrete, May 18). If the UEA Islam Society is trying to create a ‘new perception’ of Islam, will its members distance themselves from the intolerance and violence clearly sanctioned by the Qur’an and reinforced in the Hadith against Jews, Christians and others? The intention to ‘forge a culture of tolerance in a world that is quick to judge’ is welcome. However, such a democratic attitude is not consistent with Muhammad’s teaching. Indeed, the Saudi Ambassador made it clear last year that democracy and Islam do not mix. [If politics is the art of the possible, then Islam cannot possibly co-exist with liberal democratic institutions].
‘Furthermore, what about religious freedom, a basic feature of Western democracy? Are Muslims free to embrace a different religion if that is their choice? The answer is ‘No’. I am in receipt of a letter from an ex-Muslim lady who lives in secrecy here in the UK for fear of her life. The subjugation of women is another unwelcome feature of Islam, clearly and unambiguously taught in the Qur’an. Lastly, does the UEA Islam Society intend to urge Islamic governments to grant freedom to Christians, the very freedom Muslims expect here in the UK? I ask this in view of almost-daily reports of Christians being butchered for their faith by Muslims.
‘You will clearly see that my objections to Islam are not the ill-informed ‘quick-to-judge’ response identified in your article. Indeed, I make other very serious criticisms of Islam on our church website (www.geocities.com/nrchurch). Until the UEA Society and others face up to these criticisms, they cannot be surprised if the ‘old perception’ of Islam persists. The question is: can Islam really alter its image without repudiating the Qu’ranic basis of all it stands for?’
The fact is undeniable that Islam’s global jihadists – some quietly, others violently – are plotting the overthrow of all we have known for centuries. They are preparing for ‘UKistan’ in no uncertain terms! Tragically, our secularist Government – which Islam aims to subjugate and replace in any case – is playing dangerous games by ignorantly distinguishing between militant and moderate Islam. The only difference between moderates and militants is between those who keep their mouths shut and those who don’t! The Government and other secularists are deluded by the deceptive mantra ‘Islam means peace’ (reinforced by the early, pre-abbrogated Sura 2: 256 and the frequently misquoted Sura 5: 32). But it means nothing of the kind! The Arabic word for ‘peace’ is ‘salam’, the Hebrew equivalent being ‘shalom’. No, ‘Islam’ means ‘submission’, submission to Allah. The only sense in which the Pax Islama could mean ‘peace’ is when the tribute-paying enemies of Islam are silenced by conquest and reduced to a state of dhimminitude or ‘second class’ citizenship. To properly use Sir Iqbal Sacranie’s deceptive expression (used to shield Islam from its critics after 7/7) ‘the Qur’an is perfectly clear’, it states:
‘Make war on them: … Fight those who believe not in Allah … Nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are of the People of the Book), until they pay the jizyah with submission, and are utterly subdued’ (Sura 9: 14, 29)
The Government’s failed multicultural programme is driven by Islamic appeasement, not least on economic grounds. After all, the Abortion Act of 1967 – which continues to sanction ‘womb murder’ on a diabolical scale while murderers are allowed to live – has robbed the nation of five million tax payers, so Islamic immigrants are judged necessary despite the potentially nation-threatening religion they espouse. Is the Government reluctant to question Islam because more than 20% of London is already owned by Arab interests? Should we not be concerned at the power of petro-pounds, not least when our oil payments are effectively funding the building of Mosques in the UK? Of course, some theorists are vainly advocating a reformation of Islam. However, attempts to pacify and democratise this religion are doomed to failure. It could never happen without a radical rejection of Muhammad’s vicious dictates and a severe abridgement of the ingrained hatred and oppression of the Qur’an. The execution and alienation of reformists by Muslim purists in Islamic states surely destroys all hope of such reformation.
So, what is to be done? First we must be clear what is not to be done. Racist attacks must not be encouraged. Non-violent Muslims need protecting as much as anyone else. While Muslim terrorists must be pursued with military rigour, peaceable Muslims must never be persecuted. Furthermore, speaking as one who loves the Muslim people but not their religion, Muslims need rescuing from Islam! That said, unless our immigration policy takes account of the constant potential for jihadic violence provided by the Qur’an and the even more horrific Hadith, there is no way of guaranteeing civil order indefinitely. Therefore, if Enoch Powell’s dreadful ‘rivers of blood’ prophecy is to be averted in the UK, several things must be implemented. In reverse order of importance, there must be combined political and religious measures, as follows:
1. Reliable information must be made available to community, educational, church and political leaders about authentic Islam. The loveless concept of Allah; the incoherence of the Qur’an; Islam’s appeal to the baser instincts of human nature; the degradation of women involving female circumcision and forced marriages; honour killings; its bloody jihadism and a fallaciously-promised erotic paradise for suicide bombers (murderers not martyrs); all these features must not be hidden. In responding to the growing threat, our lame Government is failing to face reality. The distinction between moderate and militant Islam misses the point that the religion itself is the source of the problem. Indeed, no other religion on earth can claim to match the violence of the Islamic agenda. Seemingly benign Muslim communities will always be breeding grounds from which their more militant members can recruit jihadists.
2. With active and sensitive compassion, Christians must use all proper means to evangelise Muslims. In the process, there must be no concessions to liberal as well as Muslim denials of the deity and grace of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and only Saviour of the world. In short, the case for the pure, life-transforming faith of biblical Christianity must be courageously made. On the religious education level, the RE component of the National Curriculum must ‘put the record straight’. Teachers must stop pretending that Jesus and Muhammad are on a par and that the Holy Bible and the Holy Qur’an teach similarly positive values. Without denying that too often Christians have failed to demonstrate the compassionate virtues of its Founder, the true character of Muhammad’s programme and its devastating dictates must not be hidden from our children. Yes, the Christian Gospel forbids and condemns hatred and violence. The same cannot be said of the message of Muhammad. The children of UK schools must learn the difference between the mercy of the Sermon on the Mount and the hatred of the Hadith. The children of Muslim citizens must also be exposed to the purity of Christ and not the poison of Muhammad.
3. Compulsory citizenship ceremonies must require Muslims publicly and explicitly to repudiate the jihadic teachings of their religion in perpetuity. Only then may they enjoy the benefits of our open democratic society. ID cards requiring carriers to disavow violence in the pursuit of their agenda must be introduced. If they refuse to do so, or – as is more likely – are convicted of lying on the basis of ‘taqiyya’ when they sign, they must then be deported to countries where the intolerable is tolerated, e.g. Saudi Arabia or back to Pakistan. State benefits should be withdrawn from anyone who, in ultimately working the system to destroy it, refuses to abide by these reasonable, charitable and enlightened democratic ideals. How idiotic can a Government be to allow enemies of the State to live off the State?
Clearly, to reverse the collapse of Christian conviction in our country, nothing less than a reformation of the churches is necessary. The major problem is the preponderance of apostate clergy, many of whom pursue feminist-orientated ‘new age’ gnostic nonsense. These liberal lying prophets of multi-faith ecumenism have robbed us of the faith foundations of our national heritage. Trendy clergy and pluralistic post-modern academics are the curse of contemporary Christianity. They are praised for expressing doubts about Christ’s virgin birth and resurrection and applauded for extolling the spurious virtues of Muhammad. And they get paid for their impiety! Recalling the ’80s liberal icon, the former Bishop of Durham, Dr David Jenkins, whose rampages through Christological orthodoxy delighted Muslims, a cartoon said it all. The caption beneath a mitred infidel holding his crosier was “Which is the crook?”
While the horrors of Beslan prompted the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams to confess to a ‘flicker of doubt’ in the goodness of God, he failed to express doubts about the Islamic faith. In stating that Muslims might be saved without becoming Christians he has betrayed Christ. Looking to the Vatican for guidance will also disappoint us. Notwithstanding the historic and successful Catholic opposition to the Turks at Vienna in 1683, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#841) clearly expresses an accommodation with Islam. The late Pope John Paul II expressed a desire for cooperation between the two faiths. Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor has publicly referred to Islamists as ‘our Muslim brothers’.
Speaking as a Reformed pastor in the Protestant Dissenting tradition (honouring Her Majesty the Queen in her civil but not her religious role), only a return to the authentic Christian, Apostolic, Reformed and Evangelical Faith (as expressed in the Protestant Confessions, the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer) will be able to sweep away the shame and stupidity of political correctness. This is the Faith that gave Great Britain its true greatness – and betrayals of this heritage by the liberal religious and educational establishments must be opposed with vigour. With such spirituality we will regain our sanity. Of course, such a proposal will irritate rather than inspire the Government. The former Home Secretary’s draconian attitude is well known. Sadly, in his ignorance and prejudice, David Blunkett failed to distinguish between Muslims and Evangelicals. It remains to be seen whether the Government will be successful with its highly contentious and misinformed ‘religious hatred’ Bill.
In conclusion, I am well aware that this statement will be greeted with howls of derision and outbursts of anger from those whose cherished philosophies I have deliberately challenged. They enjoy the freedom to dissent from what I’ve said. I am no more inclined to oppress them than I am to persecute Muslims. However, if they scorn or simply ignore my solution, a British Islamic regime would never allow them the luxury of dissent if ever its Nazi-like objectives were realised.
If ancient Rome was destroyed from within by its own corruption, and, in the post-Empire era, the UK is fast losing its moral cohesion for similar reasons, there must be a national repentance. It is worth noting that church historians of yesteryear viewed the rise of Islam as a divine judgement on the corruption and decadence of 7th century Eastern Christianity. Indeed, one may argue that the rapid rise of Islam in ‘Christian’ Europe within the last thirty years or so (see Anthony Browne’s report, The Times, July 26 2005) – an ominous reality hinted at by Churchill – is to be viewed similarly. It is sobering to reflect that Turkey was once a flourishing Christian region before Islam swept over it. The tragedy is that while many people rightly resent the oppressive prohibitions and barbaric penalties Islamic shar’iah law would impose (see Qur’an, Sura 5: 33), they also reject more holy yet humane Christian values in favour of the immoral life-style Islam justly laments in Western culture. Are we surprised when Muslims are not impressed by our fornicating, binge-drinking, drug-taking, foul-mouthed yobbish youth, and the media entertainment which helps to inspire them? Is this what it means to be British? Freedom to be filthy? We should be ashamed of ourselves, children and parents, people and politicians, one and all. Secularism has produced a cesspit society! It is time to repent! And an appropriate repentance must go deeper than what the ethical barbarities of Islam might produce.
Indeed, there is an older precedent for the terrible consequences of national apostasy and the necessity of such repentance. The Old Testament prophet Daniel has much to teach us. If ever a nation suffered from a total culture quake, it was the Jewish people during the Babylonian captivity. Uprooted from their God-given land in 587 BC, settled far from Jerusalem and the Temple, they were sustained by faith in God and His gracious promise of eventual restoration. Living in the final years of the captivity, Daniel’s faith, courage and integrity mark him out as an ‘excellent’ statesman and man of God (see Daniel 6: 3). His humble and prayerful spirituality make him an example for us today. In his prayer for the people, he identifies himself with the nation that had been punished for its sinful rebellion against God (see Daniel 9: 4-15). Rather than adopt the dubious modern practice of apologising for the sins of others, Daniel shared and acknowledged the nation’s guilt: “We have sinned, we have done wickedly” (v. 15). Being personally virtuous, he had no reason to apologise and resign because of adulterous indiscretions. He never advocated a ‘back to basics’ policy only to be found out for an extra-marital affair. No, but he had the humility and sincerity to acknowledge himself as a sinner before God like the rest of us. In deep, heart-felt repentance, Daniel pleaded with God to have mercy on His people: “O my God, incline your ear and hear; open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by your name; for we do not present our supplications before you because of our righteous deeds, but because of your great mercies” (v. 18).
Such is the solid piety represented by former Prime Minister John Major’s parliamentary predecessor, Oliver Cromwell. To those who are alarmed at the current moral disintegration of the UK, the Lord Protector’s words to the Major Generals in 1656 make stirring reading:
“Make it a shame to see men bold in sin and profaneness, and God will bless you. You will be blessing to the Nation. … Truly these things do respect the souls of men, and the spirits, – which are the men. The mind is the man. If that be kept pure, a man signifies somewhat; if not, I would very fain see what difference there is betwixt him and a beast.” (Letters and Speeches, ed. Carlyle (1888), iv. 209).
It will interest you to know that twelve years ago, besides publishing my ‘True Christian Safe Sex Guide’ (which advocates exclusively heterosexual marital propriety), I quoted these words in a letter of complaint to the Huntingdon Health Authority about a disgusting, immoral and appallingly lurid ‘safe sex’ leaflet they had published. Copies were sent to the Huntingdon Conservative Association and Conservative Central Office. I received a personally-signed two-page reply from John Major, dated 30 November 1993 in which he said: ‘I note your reference to the words of the illustrious former MP for Huntingdon, Oliver Cromwell, but I do not believe we have lost sight of the virtues he recommended’. Whatever might have been true a decade ago, is this the belief of today’s Tories? If so there is hope, both for the Conservative Party and the Nation. If not, the future is too bleak to contemplate, especially if the deception that was ‘New Labour’ from its inception (in ‘stealing’ Conservative economics it was really ‘Tory Mk 2’) continues.
After the reigns of Belshazzar and Darius, Daniel’s prayer was answered when Cyrus the Persian became king. The new king’s liberal policy eventually allowed the Jews to return to their land. God’s merciful promises were fulfilled. While the parallels might be few, may we not plead with God to restore the power of the Gospel and the consequent blessings of a harmonious society here in the UK? Rather than the political scenario of Daniel’s day, many Christians consider that our position is more akin to the early church threatened by opposition from pagan Rome. Be that as it may, let us be sure to undergird every lawful, God-honouring attempt to revive Christian influence in our nation with Daniel’s prayer (v. 19): “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act!” Apart from Him, there is no hope.
This brings me to the heart of my radical Christian message, a message with political as well as personal implications. The eternal salvation of men and women depends entirely on the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world’s greatest need is to hear the ‘good news’ about Christ (see John 3: 16; 20: 31). The greatest service Christians can render to their fellow human beings is to declare the unique glory and grace of the only Saviour of the world (see John 1: 29). While one-world religious pluralism gains momentum, the faithful Church of Christ must oppose the gross deception of today’s multi-faith madness with courage (see John 14: 6).
The growing hostility to authentic Bible-based Christianity demands single-focus reliance upon God alone, as the motto on US currency [In God we trust] surely indicates. Sadly, in his second inaugural speech, President Bush yielded to ‘pc’ pressure by giving Christianity and Islam a positively comparable status. Rightly stressing the importance of ‘private character’ for ‘freedom’ and ‘the public interest’, the President declared that ‘edifice of character is built in families, supported by communities with standards, and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Qur’an, and the varied faiths of our people’.
Seemingly unaware of the President’s thinking, and in response to my recent article ‘Gunpowder, treason … and now Islam’, an e-mailer from the USA reported with surprise that ‘Your very own Prince Charles was here last week to admonish President Bush for America’s disgraceful lack of respect for Islam and Muslims. … If he has read the Qur’an, he is either a closet barbarian or incapable of comprehending the written word’. After questioning the ‘brightness’ of Prince Charles, my correspondent continued: ‘I’m glad to know that they haven’t locked you up for inciting religious hatred, and I only wish that the members of your government and mine understood Islam as well as we do. It’s hard to believe that so many brilliant folks could be so obtuse. I’m afraid that our élitist social engineers are going to destroy Western Civilization if we don’t do something fast. I have no desire for the utopia they are hell-bent and determined to foist upon us all, despite overwhelming evidence that it will never succeed. Some people never give up, do they?’
Sadly, as if his pluralistic ‘defender of faith instead of the Faith’ stance does not already disqualify His Royal Highness from being future Supreme Governor of the Church of England, I had to agree that the Prince of Wales is utterly misinformed. However, the President doesn’t appear much brighter than the Prince since the former spoke highly of Islam at a recent Ramadan dinner at the White House (English Churchman, 18 November 2005). It is also a matter of regret that, in her Christmas message for 2004, Her majesty the Queen presented such a sanitised profile of Islam. What would Her Majesty think about a brave Christian English lad recently ejected from class at a Wiltshire school – a New Labour madrasa? – with a strong pro-Islamic bias? And all because of the dastardly ‘crime’ of allegedly writing ‘God Save The Queen’ on his exercise book (Daily Express, 26 October 2005)?
Then, when a Staffordshire school insisted that all written references to Muhammad in GCSE exams must be accompanied by ‘peace be upon him’ (or else marks will be deducted), a father otherwise willing for his child to learn about Islam was branded ‘racist’ by the Head teacher for objecting to this Muslim indoctrination (English Churchman, 11 November 2005).
We must ask, “What is driving all this?” The fact is that just as Roman Catholics have an ultimate allegiance to the Pope, Muslims have a prior allegiance to the umma – the global Nation of Islam! I learned recently (18 November) that in London – the Islamic terrorist capital of Europe – a new radical website declares Her Majesty as an ‘enemy of Islam’ (primarily it must be said for her Government’s misguided invasion of Iraq). While Her Majesty’s positive comments about Christianity at the General Synod of the Church of England were welcome, a call for Muslim observers was surely utterly misguided (Daily Telegraph, 16 November 2005).
With a continuing and growing assault on our Christian heritage, never was there a greater need to get to grips with the truth of the Bible text: “No man ever spoke like this man” (John 7: 46). I thus conclude my paper in sermonic mode:
1. NO MAN EVER SPOKE LIKE JESUS CHRIST
And why? He was no ordinary man. He was perfect and sinless. He is the ‘God-man’, ‘God manifested in the flesh’ (1 Timothy 3: 16). The Eternal ‘Word made flesh’ (John 1: 14). Thus He spoke words of truth, purity, love, kindness and compassion. He spoke with divine unction, grace and authority. No one else, before or since, ever spoke like Him. He is Creator, King and Lord of the Universe. On the other hand, Muhammad was an ordinary man. He was imperfect and sinful. He spoke words of error, impurity, hate and cruelty.
2. NO MAN EVER LIVED LIKE JESUS CHRIST
His life backed up His words. In lip and life He was perfectly consistent. He brought blessing, healing, comfort and joy to people. His many miracles confirmed His deity. His tender touch declared the compassion of God. He liberated women from the abusive treatment of selfish men. He rejected violence as a method of spreading His message. No life has ever been lived to match the life of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, Muhammad’s life contradicted many of his more noble sayings. His life is not a good example for ‘private character’. His claims cannot compare with Christ’s. Spreading his message by the sword, he brought violence and bloodshed to those who refused to submit to his ‘Allah’. He humiliated women. His tenderness was reserved chiefly for his own sexual indulgence and his stomach (according to wife A’isha).
3. NO MAN EVER DIED LIKE JESUS CHRIST
While His life and preaching angered the religious establishment of His day, nothing could ever justify the hatred directed at Him. He was guilty of no sin. Expressing God’s mercy to us hell-deserving sinners, Jesus, the Saviour of the world, died for our sins. He died, ‘the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God’ (1 Peter 3: 18). In His agonizing crucifixion, He breathed nothing but love and kindness to His enemies. Such dying! Such love! On the other hand, Muhammad died burdened by his own guilt. Sadly and tragically, his death did not terminate of his cruel conquests. Others perpetuated his vicious legacy.
4. NO MAN EVER BLESSED THE HUMAN RACE LIKE JESUS CHRIST
His impact on history is not just the effect of a perpetuation of His memory. Jesus rose from the dead! He lives! The Gospel is the greatest blessing the world has ever known! It has brought forgiveness, love, joy and peace. Christ has mended broken hearts and lives. He has given hope to those in despair. Through Him, the light of heaven has dispelled the darkness of death. He has liberated individuals and nations. The Gospel has delivered people from ignorance, slavery, poverty and degradation. All that is truly good, noble, pure and beautiful comes from Him (even if apostate believers have corrupted His truth). Christ’s resurrection influence continues still where He is accepted, trusted and served. On the other hand, Muhammad died to rise no more, except to be judged by Christ when He returns. His tomb is not empty. His legacy is ignorance, cruelty, fear and oppression. The continued influence of his teachings is a threat to all that Christ represents.
In conclusion, the case for Christ and against Muhammad is compelling in every respect. Assessed by every test that may be devised, there is simply no competition. So let us all respond as did the men in our text! May we all acknowledge, believe, trust, love and surrender to the incomparable Christ. May we all rejoice in Him and seek to make Him known throughout the world. I am well aware that many in the secular West desire Christ no more than they desire Muhammad. I therefore must warn them. Even if they never suffer from some jihadic atrocity, they will stand before the judgement seat of Christ, when He returns to judge the world in righteousness (see 2 Corinthians 5: 10). While opportunity remains, come to Christ! If you are a Muslim, renounce Muhammad and come to Christ! Then, everything I have tried to express will become wonderfully and experientially true. For my part, I will never serve the Pope or Muhammad. I serve only our Lord Jesus Christ. I invite you all to serve Him with me. Amen!
· The Revd Alan C. Clifford BA, MLitt, PhD 2005
Dedicated to the Memory of the Children of Beslan murdered by Islamic terrorists on 3 September 2004 and the three Indonesian girls beheaded by Islamic militants on 29 October 2005
“It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” JESUS CHRIST (Luke 17: 2)
Thought from Dr Clifford:
A religion whose activists can target children must be inexpressibly evil.
In posting this article to our website I am conscious that numerous political issues are touched upon but my view is that this article is overwhelmingly dealing with issues of religion and in particular the challenge currently posed by the religion of Islam to “the faith which was once delivered to the saints” [Jude 3] and so ‘Take Heed’ should not be construed as having thrown its ‘hat’ into the political arena.
Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 29 November 2005