We don't dispute -- anything but -- that the goal in life is to love. No question. We are also cognizant of how the Blessed Mother, especially at one famous apparition, called Christians to get along not only with other denominations but other religions, particularly Muslims. Asked at one point who the holiest person in the area (Sarajevo) was, the Blessed Mother allegedly indicated a devout local woman who -- however -- was Muslim. It is an area where she came, perhaps, because of age-old disputes between Catholics, Orthodox, and Muslims.
We are also aware of how often and much Pope Francis has admonished us to honor other faiths -- find commonality -- and nations to accept immigrants, especially refugees from places such as the Middle East.
Many are Christians fleeing ISIS. We can't turn blind eyes and deaf ears to them.
The U.S. bishops, even conservative ones, have issued similar admonitions.
People are to be judged by who they are as people, not by their religion (if we judge people at all).
We accept this, without question. Recently was the heartwarming account of how a Muslim in Kenya stood by and shielded Christians during an attack by fellow Muslims -- was united with them when faced with evil. Here is wisdom: in life, love at every turn.
At the same moment, we are also aware of how many Christians have been killed by Muslims (precisely parts of Africa, not to mention Iraq and Syria: truly horrid, brutal mass slayings) and how many attempts or attacks there have been even in North America. There was the Beltway sniper, a Muslim; there was the Muslim fellow who wanted to cause an explosion at Fort Dix; there was the first World Trade Center bombing, at the direction of a Muslim cleric; there was, most of all, of course, the second World Trade Center bombing (9/11), again orchestrated by Muslim fanatics; there was the Boston marathon attack by two Islamic terrorists; the shoe-bomber; the terrorists who tried to blow up Times Square, and the recent shooters in San Bernardino -- never mind abroad, in places like Denmark and Paris. Who knows how many Muslim plots or smaller attacks have not been publicly reported?
Suspiciously, a plane went down in Queens, New York -- a commercial jet -- shortly after September 11, although news of this was virtually lost in the cloud of trauma following the World Trade Center (and perhaps hushed up by the government). There was also the suspicious crash of a commercial airliner off Long Island in the 1990s -- a crash that occurred after a missile-like object was reported by numerous witnesses (again, hushed up).
The point: War has been waged on our own soil, and when war is waged, we are allowed to defend ourselves by carefully screening for those of the Muslim faith, particularly coming from ISIS and al Qaeda hotspots, who might seek to harm us (and future generations). This is common sense; it is not bias or religious discrimination. There have been numerous times in the past when the United States has limited migration from certain parts of the world due to security threats. Instead, we are treated as if Christians are at fault, and as if it is Muslims who have been discriminated against. In fact, right after 9/11 President George Bush -- bent to an extreme -- instituted a celebration of Ramadan, as if Muslims had been the ones who had been killed and needed reassurance. They had not been discriminated against. We have a dear friend who died on September 11 and a nephew whose young family -- including a baby -- had to hide in a bathroom in terror as police searched their neighborhood during that Boston attack. These were the victims.
The threats continue and will continue until we flush the matter out -- allowing in good people from the Middle East (especially Christians fleeing ISIS) while greatly scrutinizing and limiting others. From CNN the day after Christmas (2015): "An alleged ISIS supporter from Arizona, accused of arming and training the men who tried to attack a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest in Texas earlier this year, has been indicted on charges that he sought to use pipe bombs to target last season's Super Bowl, according to court documents."
A writer for Crisis magazine notes that, "Like the Spartans, the first Muslims were warriors. Their leader was both a prophet and a warlord. Since Muslims are still expected to model their behavior on Muhammad, it's not surprising that Muslim cultures will be more prone to violence than, say, cultures that take Jesus or Buddha as their inspiration. Our own culture is completely sold on the importance of having role models to emulate, but hasn't yet grasped the consequences that follow when 1.6 billion people take Muhammad as their primary role model. Indeed, one of the chief appeals of ISIS and company is their promise to return Islam to those glorious days when Muhammad spread the faith by force." Famed historian and parliamentarian Hilaire Belloc once said, "It has always seemed to me possible, and even probable, that there would be a resurrection of Islam and that our sons or our grandsons would see the renewal of that tremendous struggle between the Christian culture and what has been for more than a thousand years its greatest opponent."
There seems to be something inherently dark about Islam, at least as currently preached -- despite the huge numbers of true, good people who are of this faith -- and the attacks against Christians will not end until they come out of this darkness.
Recently we read about a woman whose Muslim husband cursed her, pulled her by the hair, and beat her due to her conversion to Christianity and reading of the Bible. After a year of relentless persecution, this man woke up in the middle of the night and found himself paralyzed. He couldn't move. A few days later, God revealed to him in a dream that his paralysis was because of his speaking against Jesus. Within a week he repented and asked her to bring others to pray for him, soon joining his wife as a fervent Christian! (Praise God.)
In the book Imagine Heaven, author John Burke recounts that case of a Muslim woman named Khalida, native of Bethlehem, who had a vision of Christ and in His Presence she heard a "voice like mighty rushing waters, powerful and soothing at the same time." This recalls Ezekiel -- who saw the glory of God coming from the east also heard and said His Voice "was like the roar of rushing waters" (43:2). (She too had a horridly abusive husband.)
As she put it: "A person was standing in front of me, but different from any person I'd ever known. I heard His Voice -- it was the same voice I heard years before [during a near-death brush]. Though I didn't know who it was then [while still in Palestine], He said over and over to me when my Muslim husband was beating me and threatening my life, 'Leave the darkness for the Light.' Now He said in Arabic, 'I am the Truth, the Life, and the Way, and no one comes to the Father except by Me. The minute He said, 'I am the Truth," I knew immediately it was Jesus. He didn't say, 'I am Jesus,' but every fiber of my being knew Who He was. I was so consumed by His Presence that I dropped to my knees and looked up at Him. He is so glorious, so beautiful. All light inside of Light. He got so close that there was too much light to even see the color of His Eyes."
If Islam was just another way of worshipping God -- if there was not something fundamentally errant with it -- one must ask why the Lord, if we accept this account, would have indicated to Khalida that she was in "darkness."
Some see the Koran as filled with exhortations to violence. Others say that Mohammed has been misrepresented -- that he preached love and mercy. It may be something genetic going on in the Middle East, or cultural, more than a reflection of true Islam. We don't know. The prophet may have advocated violence only in defense of his tribe -- which was under attack by wealthy irreligious aristocrats ("infidels"), against whom Mohammed preached. Scholars say that the founder of Islam told his followers to kill only if "villainy" was done in their land, and that he expressly prohibited the slaying of innocent people (saying it was like killing all of humanity). His teachings may have been distorted by other Muslim writers -- including the idea of sexual reward for those who kill "infidels" (which radicals now label us Christians). Moreover, there is much violence in our own Old Testament.
But does the Koran not instruct followers to hunt down "non-believers"?
To repeat, there are those many good, sincere, devout, and peace-loving Muslims, but when there also seems to be something problematic at the foundation of a religion (again, at least as preached for the last several hundred years), something one must be cautious about, especially if that "something" inspires violence against Christians (as well as fellow Muslims).
We should not cede ground -- not an inch -- to any enemy of our country and faith. Churches in Africa and the Middle East are being eradicated by Muslims, not Christians. These are not good "fruits."
Is it wrong to try and prevent that here in North America, or in Europe? Is it wrong to monitor suspicious mosques, when terrorist plots often originate in them (one example: the first WTC attack in 1993)?
Love everyone and respect all faiths while protecting your own from what is a growing persecution and a threat to our own homeland, as well as to Christianity (mimicking the Middle Ages) abroad.