Friday, August 03, 2007

Why Being a Christian Is Often Embarrassing

Sigh. Some minister in California is going to line his people up outside a mosque, hoping to convert Muslims as they come to and from their house of worship.

Some of you may seen nothing wrong with this picture. After all, it's a free country. The guy has a right to express himself. And as he says in the story (linked above), immigrants from the Middle Eastern tyrannies may not know that they have a choice in the matter.

True enough. But now imagine the shoe on the other foot. It's Sunday morning in Lahore, where you are working for a relief agency or oil company or some other international employer. Going to church in Pakistan is a little dangerous, because you never know when some sectarian violence will explode in your general direction. It would be safer and easier to stay home and read the Times online. But your faith matters, so you get dressed and take your chances.

And when you get to church, who is there to greet you but a crowd of Islamists, eager to save your soul? They mean well, to be sure, but they are awfully loud and forceful as they approach you, shouting and shoving literature into your hands, assuring you that your faith is "hopeless" and even "leads to eternal death."

How do you react? Angry, sure. And scared -- is there some unspoken threat here? Will your church be attacked when you enter it? Stranger things have happened, you know, in that violent foreign nation. It is very likely that you cleave more closely still to the church, as it is the only thing that makes you feel safe in this strange place. And you get ready to defend it, by any means necessary.

Well, that's exactly the situation that immigrant Muslims are in as they go to their mosque. And singling them out on the doorstep of their house of prayer isn't going to help. You may convert a few, but the rest will be convinced more filrmly that holding onto their faith is all-important. A small number may even feel threatened enough to buy into the Islamist agenda, as the only way to defend themselves and their religion against Christianist fanatics.

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