Global View from Bishop Bill Atwood
On the heels of 21 Christians beheaded in Libya reports are just surfacing of 45 more Christians being burned to death in al-Bagdadi, Iraq.
The town of al-Bagdadi is clearly Iraqi, but it is not unlike small towns and suburbs in other nations. There are people who have lived together for millennia, for the most part peacefully. Now, with the incursions of ISIS, the story has changed. This latest outrage has occurred on the heels of the martyrdom of 21 Coptic Christians.
Just five miles from an air base housing 400 US Marines, ISIS “soldiers” just burned to death 45 people. It is no longer possible for ISIS to shock the world. They exist under a demonic pall, doing the bidding of evil. Sadly, there is great human tragedy associated with what they do. Untold numbers of families are being brutalized as their relatives are being martyred. This is not “senseless violence,” neither is it random. It rises from a vile and violent population within Islam. These are they who seek to impose a Caliphate which would then reign across the world with Islamic domination of as much of the world as they can take.
It is not just at the feet of those who are doing these dastardly acts that the blame lies. There is blame enough to go around. First of all, every leader of the Muslim faith owns this unless they are publicly repudiating it. When you ask at local mosques in the US, Canada, or England if they would like to see a Caliphate, the answer is always “Yes." When you ask if they would like to see Sharia Law established in their locality, the answer is always “Yes.” What they are refusing to own is that their message is being interpreted with the way that Islam has usually advanced through history and that is through imposition. The word “Islam” means “submit.” It seeks to impose submission on everyone. The failure of Islamic leaders to denounce what ISIS is doing is a terrible indictment of the religion they pursue.
All over western nations, self-described moderate Muslims raise money for Islamic causes. Without clear denunciation of ISIS and al Qaeda, a huge amount of that money finds its way from Mosques on “Main street” into the coffers of those who revel in beheading Christians and burning them to death.
Also culpable are those non-Muslim leaders who refuse to name this for what it is: Terror in the name of Islam. Just because every Muslim has not repudiated it does not mean that it is not Islamic. If the terrorists say what they are doing is motivated by Islam, then accept that at face value. It is more than disingenuous for a western leader like President Obama to try to mitigate the violence by calling it senseless or random. He refuses to trust that the American public can differentiate between radical Islam and any other. These acts are neither senseless nor random. They rise out of a delusion. It is, however, not a Baptist delusion or a Buddhist delusion, a Zoroastrian delusion or a Jewish delusion, it is Muslim, and it will continue until Muslim leaders unite in expelling these monsters from their household of faith. The failure to do so brands Islam with the burden of the sin.
A friend who speaks Arabic fluently and by appearance looks Middle-eastern, told me that he often goes into Mosques in the US to see what they have in print and to talk with leaders when he can. Time after time, he finds material supporting global jihad and leaders who are sympathetic with the goal of establishing a Caliphate and Sharia Law. Letting Muslim leaders off the hook for what we consider to be radical is not only foolish, it is wrong.
Bishop Bill Atwood is bishop of the ACNA's International Diocese and an American Anglican Council contributing author.