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Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Getting it Wrong Again on Islam – and Most Everything Else

Feb 13, 2017

There are at least two main problems when it comes to pastors and church leaders, and controversial political and social issues. The first problem is that most will simply never say anything about such topics. They refuse to speak on the vitally important issues of the day, often for fear of upsetting anyone and rocking the boat. So they remain silent.

The second problem is some Christian leaders will indeed speak out, but far too often they simply parrot the leftist clichés of the surrounding culture. Instead of offering careful commentary squarely based on a biblical worldview, they just rehash what the world is saying – and usually it is the secular left version of events that they regurgitate.

Both errors are costing the church greatly. And both are found happening over and over again. Let me provide another recent example of the latter problem. A popular pastor who has a tendency to offer somewhat simplistic, trendy and sometimes unbiblical pronouncements on current events has just recently posted this on his page:

The number of Americans killed in a terror attack by someone from one of the seven countries on Mr Trump’s list, between 1975 and 2015, was zero. Only three deaths were attributed to refugees in the 40 years – and those were caused by three Cuban terrorists in the 1970s.
Meanwhile, 22,000 die in the United States each year by overdosing on painkillers and over 15,000 a year die from gun violence. Maybe those stats give the President some more important things to focus on to make America safe again!

Why does he even bother with this sort of stuff? There are just so many problems here that one wonders where to begin. His numbers are bogus to start with. Indeed, the claim that no Muslim refugees are responsible for any deaths in America is simply false. As Don Feder reminds us:

Most jihadist murder sprees were committed by Muslim refugees (like the Tsarnaev Boys and the wife and accomplice of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook), or the children of immigrants from Allah-land (like Nidal Hasan and Omar Mateen – of the Fort Hood and the Pulse Nightclub massacres respectively). The 9/11 hijackers were here on temporary visas.

But don’t let the facts get in the way of leftist myth-making. Also, radicalised Muslims entering the West intent on causing great harm and bloodshed is a relatively new phenomena, so we would expect numbers to be low – for now. The issue is, will they keep rising?

Based on what we have seen around the Western world, only someone with his head in the sand would say ‘no’. And comparing these numbers to other causes of death is of course simply a case of apples and oranges. It is like saying more people have died from car accidents than exploding mobile phones.

Cars have been around for a long time now, while mobile phones have only recently come on the scene. So of course the former will result in more deaths than the latter. The same here. Moreover, this is the logical fallacy known as the false dilemma. This faulty way of thinking says that we must choose between A or B, only. But often one can choose both, or there are other alternatives tsimpsons 1o run with.

To worry about one cause of death should not of course mean we cannot worry about another cause of death. Why not rightly worry about all causes of death? Why force us to foolishly pick just one or the other? So the entire post is misleading and unhelpful in this regard.

Moreover, it does not take into account all the foiled terror attacks planned for America. Indeed, one recent study refutes the dodgy numbers offered by this pastor. It says that since “9/11, 72 individuals from the seven mostly Muslim countries covered by President Trump’s ‘extreme vetting’ executive order have been convicted of terrorism.”

One simply has to consider all the deadly attacks undertaken by Muslims since 9/11. I assume pastors like this would have no clue about the actual numbers, so let me help them out. Since that fateful day there have been 30,288 such attacks to be exact. Simply looking at the month of January we find 201 attacks in 30 countries with 1412 people killed and 1679 injured.

Is that something we should be worried about? Most people would think so. But some pastors seem to dismiss such concerns, preferring to score cheap political points with bumper sticker reasoning. When we have an enemy that has sworn to defeat us, we had better take it seriously.

But one of the greatest problems we have right now in the West is folks who are utterly clueless about the nature of Islam, and the very real threat it poses, not just elsewhere but right here in the West. Making light of the war we are in, and the need for strong border protection, helps no one, and is not particularly Christlike.

But wait, there’s more. His second paragraph is a real doozey. Just what is he saying here? Is he suggesting we should ban pain killers? And yes, people die when they are murdered by guns – or any other weapon for that matter. Which is why Americans are so very keen to preserve their Second Amendment rights to carry firearms in an effort to protect themselves and their loved ones from such murders.

But pastors like this are almost always on the leftist bandwagon condemning the “gun culture” in America. Sadly however the social justice warriors get this issue wrong all the time, simply running with emotion and knee jerk reactions instead of dealing with facts and evidence.

As but one fact, consider the number of times mass shootings have been prevented because a citizen was lawfully carrying a firearm. A 2015 article for example noted that at least “12 times mass shootings were stopped by good guys with guns” in America. Another piece put it this way:

“Criminologist Gary Kleck estimates that 2.5 million Americans use guns to defend themselves each year. Out of that number, 400,000 believe that but for their firearms, they would have been dead,” columnist Larry Elder wrote in July, following the shooting tragedy at the premier of the latest Batman movie in Aurora, Colo.
“We know from Census Bureau surveys that something beyond 100,000 uses of guns for self-defense occur every year,” adds Professor Emeritus James Q. Wilson, a public policy expert at the University of California-Los Angeles. “We know from smaller surveys of a commercial nature that the number may be as high as two-and-a-half or three million. We don’t know what the right number is, but whatever the right number is, it’s not a trivial number.”

But facts like this do not fit in with the left’s narrative, so they are conveniently ignored, replaced with emotive clichés and unhelpful postings like the one above. I would have thought that the “What Would Jesus Do” crowd would be in favour of innocent lives being saved and murder being prevented.

Finally, folks like this are usually lefty social justice warriors who believe we have some obligation to take in refugees from everywhere, with basically no questions asked. They have the false and unbiblical notion that this is something Jesus would do. Um no, not quite.

The Bible does in fact support the notion that nations have a right to secure borders and protection from external threats. But I have sought to make that case carefully elsewhere: www.billmuehlenberg.com/2010/11/09/christians-and-asylum-seekers/

All in all this post was not very helpful. In fact it was rather unhelpful. It was illogical, factually anaemic, and morally dubious. And biblically speaking it was not so flash either. I do not mean to pick on this one particular pastor, since there would be so many others just like him. He is simply representative of this sort of thing.

Sure, in many other areas they may well be doing a good job for the Kingdom. And I suppose we can be grateful that pastors like this are speaking out instead of remaining silent. So two cheers for that. But when our church leaders do speak out, it is incumbent upon them that they do think very carefully and prayerfully about what they say.

Getting their facts right would be a great start. Easing up on all the clichéd moralising would also be useful. And refusing to simply run with the latest leftist nostrums would be all very helpful as well. Otherwise they may end up causing more harm than good.

www.grasstopsusa.com/df020717.html
www.washingtonexaminer.com/report-72-convicted-of-terrorism-from-trump-7-mostly-muslim-countries/article/2614582#.WJ97i-Wj68I.facebook
www.thereligionofpeace.com/
controversialtimes.com/issues/constitutional-rights/12-times-mass-shootings-were-stopped-by-good-guys-with-guns/
www.naturalnews.com/038404_massacres_gun_owners_defense.html#ixzz2FVAoxvry

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16 Responses to Getting it Wrong Again on Islam – and Most Everything Else

  • Thanks Bill, good on you for addressing this important matter, it’s not only well meaning Christian pastors misquoting God’s Holy Word but other believers in the Words of our Lord like some other Christians, Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. God’s Scriptures were written to unite humanity around his Creation and sacrifice of Jesus as the only one to save us by his grace and mercy to live with him eternally, starting today that is our purpose is it not? Blessings!

  • Bill, you’re correct when pointing out that Pastors who play the politically correct game are failing their congregation.
    However, I don’t think you’re going to convince many Aussies, left or right, Christian or not, that the American gun culture isn’t both weird and sad. We’re not on the ‘leftist bandwagon’, most people here feel that way.
    I’d pick a different battle.
    Regards, Anthony.

  • Thanks Anthony. Of course I do not believe that the right to bear arms as enunciated in the 2nd Amendment is either “weird” or “sad”. I find it fully sensible and justifiable. And I am aware of many Australians who hold similar views. Although the firearms issue was just a small part of my article and does not negate anything else I said here, given that this is my site, I will pick the battles that I think are important thanks. Regards.

  • Any book that propagates the view that that Jesus was NOT crucified – the koran – has been spiritually engineered by satan himself. Pastors that support and help moslems to bring this satanic poison into their country, are Quislings to their country, and a judas to their Christian heritage. Not wolves, more like Slugs in Sheeps clothing, Slow, brainless and destructive.

  • And that’s not all. A friend told me about a church in Ballina who had Santa at their children’s Christmas party. A terrorist wearing the red suit was allegedly responsible for an attack in France around the same time.

  • Anthony Whitney, as a holder of one of the 1.9 million firearms licences in Australia, I don’t see the 2nd Amendment as anything less than an acknowledgment of an inalienable right that pre-exists any government of men. If we have a right to life, then by extension we have a right to defend that life from lethal threats. Given that the government and criminals will never relinquish their guns, it is entirely appropriate that all law abiding citizens are afforded the same right to defend themselves.

  • Yes “getting their facts right would be a great start”. Gods’ truth is symmetrical if these pastors do this, who knows what they will eventually see about themselves. They may even find that as yet they have not been born again and do not perceive Gods’ reign and rule in the affairs of the age they live in. Churches might get real pastors as the result. As did the Congregationalists in Britain when this happened to Peter Taylor Forsyth who had been a brilliant intellectual Liberal but (as he said after his conversion) of no use to his parishioners in that state. Your facts on the US gun culture are very interesting. This reminds me of the conversion of Seargeant York whose story is told in the movie of his name. An American Christian pacifist in WW1, who saved his platoon by sharp shooting out a German machinegun nest on his own. Its’ a pity these pastors don’t appear to exhibit the personal integrity these two did on the moral questions they were confronted by and so became the blessing they were (and still are) to so many. See how your symmetrical thinking and research is doing good for this little mind. 🙂 Thank you Bill.

  • “controversial political and social issues. The first problem is that most will simply never say anything about such topics. They refuse to speak on the vitally important issues of the day, often for fear of upsetting anyone and rocking the boat. So they remain silent.”

    Bill, I believe that pastors such as this fellow are the primary cause for the rise of the “done-withs”. In my opinion, pastors of this ilk are rapidly making the organized church irrelevant.

  • I’d have to disagree with Anthony. Over many years I have done a 180 and come to understand why the US founding fathers wrote the 2nd amendment. Essentially, it’s the right to defend one’s own life and/or freedom, and those of loved ones and innocents. Not really a controversial matter, actually.

    The media sadly here in Australia do a good job in brainwashing people to ignore that principle and demonise tools that do nothing other than the person operating it. As we saw recently in Melbourne, tragically even a car can be used for great evil.

    An important thing I like to remind people of is the fact the Australian parliament (and our borders) are protected by officers and guards who are usually armed. But nobody gets upset about that! They don’t wear magic uniforms and they are not superhuman. If guns were inherently so dangerous, why subject our authorities to such unnecessary risks?

    The truth is we don’t serve the population by making them sitting ducks for the whims of any criminal. Statistics in the US are skewed by a range of factors including gang warfare and the early release of felons, and comparisons between countries are usually futile exercises. It’s sad how much rubbish from the media people have swallowed on this topic.

  • Violent crime, robbery, and rape have increased exponentially in Melbourne since Howard’s unjustified gun grab. Most of my friends recognize that with the left-stacked judiciary and Apex-type gangs running rampant, we desperately need firearms to protect ourselves because the police and government won’t do it. They’ve taken away our right to defend ourselves and now left us completely defenseless. We recognize that all the states in the US that have unrestricted conceal carry laws also have much lower crime rates than Melbourne where you can get carjacked in broad daylight in the carpark of Dandenong Plaza (which happened to a pharmacy rep of mine).

  • I should clarify – I see the gun culture, not the Second Ammendment as sad and weird (as does everyone else I’ve ever talked to about this). The majority of Australians don’t own guns, and though I can’t prove this, I’d say it’s safe to say they don’t feel vulnerable and defenseless because of it. Back to the US, the ease with which one can buy a weapon, and the types of weapons readily available, is to me incomprehensible. Bill you may know Australians that agree with you on this, I guess those that think alike will gravitate towards each other. But it’s pretty insulting to presume that if someone disagrees with you they are unthinkingly on some kind of bandwagon. Just possibly, we have an objectivity in relation to this because we’re not American. I don’t hope to change your mind on the issue itself, but rather encourage you to consider with more respect those who disagree with you on this non-faith issue.

  • Thanks Anthony. A few points if I may:

    -I am not sure how you can distinguish the Second Amendment from the “gun culture” – whatever that means. Both have to do with the fundamental rights of American citizens to own firearms to protect themselves and their loved ones.

    -With 1.9 million firearm licenses in Australia, that sounds like a lot of gun ownership to me. And are you dismissing the Australians who wrote in here? Are they also lacking in objectivity? Did you even bother to read their comments?

    -Since you worry about the ease of firearms access, the facts are these: those American jurisdictions which have the strictest gun control tend to have some of the highest rates of gun crime and murder in America.

    -Sadly the issue is just as I said it is: some folks prefer to merely emote instead of dealing with facts and evidence. That to my mind is what is really incomprehensible. Given that you have offered zero facts here, zero evidence, and zero argumentation, but simply a knee-jerk reaction, well yes, that kinda sounds like riding a bandwagon to me.

    -Anthony, you may know Australians that agree with you on this, I guess those that think alike will gravitate towards each other. And given that your only “argument” thus far was to suggest that you are objective about this matter while I am not, I am not sure about all this respect you speak of. I don’t hope to change your mind on the issue itself, but rather encourage you to consider with more respect those who disagree with you on this non-faith issue.

  • Actually, Anthony, there are many times when I don’t feel safe. It’s why I’ve taken martial arts classes and will be encouraging my daughter to do the same, when she’s old enough. In Victoria, you legally cannot arm yourself with anything, which means you’re an easy target for an agressor/s. It’s why Apex are able to do as they please – they know full well we’re all disarmed and at their mercy. As for me, I strongly believe in the right to self defence, and that includes the ability to own and carry a gun. Sadly, that right is not available in Australia. No one should be a victim, but our current state and federal legislation mandates our victimhood status. As has been pointed out elsewhere, violent crime has sky-rocketed. This is the natural result of removing the threat of firearms for self defence, and indeed any other weapon or dangerous object. There does not need to be a gun culture that you don’t understand for civil society to have access to firearms for self defence – just the legal freedom to do so. And for what it’s worth, I personally know of many dozens of firearms owners, and not a single one has ever committed a crime, much less killed or murdered anyone. Guns aren’t the problem, but bad people certainly are. Sadly, bad people still have guns in Australia, and knives, machetes and other dangerous implements that they know they can use at will upon virtually anyone else. That sure is not right, and it sure isn’t fair.

  • Always a bit confused by the gun debate. There are so few gun deaths in Australia compared to the US. Guns are comparatively rare in AU, so more guns = safer ?

  • Thanks Bruno. But of course there are so few of most kinds of deaths in Australia compared to the US, for the simple reason that there are a whole lot fewer people in Australian compared to America. So it is a bit of comparing apples with oranges.

    And as Mark rightly said above, international comparisons on issues like this are always fraught with danger, given so many differing variables involved. So it is almost pointless to try. But we simply need to ask a few questions here. Are there fewer murders in Australia? Obviously if you had zero guns here, you would have zero gun deaths. But that is not the issue. Murder still happens all the time here and by various means. So too various serious crimes. And to take this further, one can look at crime rates pre-and post-the Howard scheme. The numbers are quite revealing actually. I could post heaps on this.

    But the truth is, gun control was really only mentioned in passing in my article, and it was not my intention to once again get into WWIII over this. So it is a bit disappointing when the main point of my articles are overlooked by those who have a bee in their bonnet, and want to go off on tangents. As I say, emotion reaches fever pitch it seems whenever the issue is raised. That is why a proper debate on this by commentators should really only follow when I have written a few lengthy and quite detailed articles on all this first. So stay tuned.

  • Good work Bill.

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