Does the Middle East Need More Christians?
If the people were saying, "We're blowing you up for Jesus," we actually know pretty well where to point to in the Bible to show them that's wrong.
January 26, 2010 - 12:00 am
ABC News found that Trijicon, which makes rifle scopes for the military, stamps references to Bible verses on its equipment. The defense contractor subsequently announced that it will voluntarily stop stamping these references on combat rifle sights. These sights are used in Iraq and Afghanistan — sometimes to train Muslims, sometimes to shoot them. According to ABC News, this is very important. If a Muslim were to see this code on the side of a rifle and then look up the verse in one of the many Bibles you can easily find in Muslim countries, then that Muslim might become indoctrinated with Christianity and then … chaos or something.
Or maybe we just worry that the mere knowledge of a reference to the Bible in those countries will cause all Muslims in the Middle East to panic and randomly shoot each other in the faces like we’re always worried they’ll do at the slightest agitation.
Now, we’ve always been worried about our wars in the Middle East being perceived as religious wars, when they’re totally not. It’s just that a number of people in the Middle East have killed Americans or want to kill Americans, so we’re going to kill them back. It’s a simple eye for an eye deal — a principle I’m pretty sure has nothing to do with the Bible. That’s why early on there was a big hubbub when George W. Bush referred to the war on terror as a “crusade.”
You see, the Crusades are a big sore subject in the Middle East, because that’s when the Christians conquered the Muslims … or the Muslims conquered the Christians … or maybe the Jews conquered all of them. I really don’t know; I went to public school. Anyway, it’s just one of those many things we want to be careful about — like depicting Muhammad — lest everyone in Middle East riot and kill each other.
So here’s my problem with this entire train of thought. We’re over there shooting Muslims and blowing stuff up, and we expect everyone to get over that. It’s the mention of Jesus that is the unforgivable sin. I guess the idea is that stuff gets blown up and people are shot in the Middle East all the time — so that’s no big deal — but Christianity is a lot less common, so that could upset them. Now, it’s quite different here. If someone comes to America and talks about their religion, that’s no big deal (or, judging from the reaction to Brit Hume’s comments about Christianity, that’s how it used to be); it’s a free country, so talk about what you want. What gets us worked up is people coming over here and shooting other people and blowing stuff up. Hence the cultural clash.
I have a radical suggestion, though. Have we actually looked at the strategic benefits of actively proselytizing Christianity in the Middle East? Now, I’m a Christian, so I’ll admit that I’m biased; I think everybody would be happier if they followed Jesus Christ. But we have a secular government — and I’m happy with that — so let’s put that aside and pretend all religions are just hokum. So, from this purely rational perspective, would trying to convert people in the Middle East have benefits?
Now, I know some Americans are against Christianity, but some Americans are also against guns, and we still use those against the enemy, so that’s not really the issue. The issue is whether this will make us safer. And I think if we could convert many in the Middle East to Christianity, we would have a lot fewer problems with the region. First off, I don’t know of any Middle East Christians who have tried to blow us up. So if we can convert people over there, we could be removing enemies from the battlefield without violence.
Plus, it would help America and that region to better understand each other. If I may speak an uncomfortable truth, the fact that everyone is so Muslim in the Middle East kind of unnerves most Americans. We don’t really know what’s up with that. We’re told “Islam means peace” and we want to believe that, but most Americans don’t really know if that’s true, even though many Muslims live by that tenet.
But there are also a lot of Muslims who think blowing people up is the best way to express their religious devotion, and not many of us have really read the Koran and the supporting hadiths to come down on one side or the other in that debate. There are still debates in Christianity I’m trying to figure out. Who has time to learn an entirely different religion? But if the people in the Middle East were saying, “We’re blowing you up for Jesus,” we actually know pretty well where to point to in the Bible to show them that’s wrong. If they’re instead like, “We’re shooting you because you’re meddlesome,” that still doesn’t change much, but one thing at a time.
So I think it’s pretty inarguable that if there were at least more Christians in the Middle East, things would be easier for us here in America. The problem, then, remains whether merely mentioning Jesus is going to cause nothing but bloodshed over there. Saudi Arabia even has laws that basically make it illegal to even mention other religions. I don’t know if anyone has ever pressed this, though; are they really going to cut off oil exports to us and throw their whole country into chaos out of fear of the Bible? What a bunch of weird sissies.
This is where we get to the old liberals versus conservatives divide. Liberals, in their enlightened view, think some people are lesser than us, and we must patronize them and treat them as children always on the verge of a tantrum. Thus we should never meddle with the Middle East and bring up things they don’t like, or they’ll become colicky babies. Conservatives, on the other hand, have the racist view that all people should be treated equally, and if we can deal with Muslims over here spreading their religion, then we should expect the same with the Middle East and the spread of Christianity. Fair is fair.
I guess the question is: Do we expect the Middle East to always be like this? Are they always going to be the babies of the world we have to work extra hard not to upset, or can we one day treat them as equals? If we expect that they’ll someday be more open and less prone to tantrums, then shouldn’t we work towards that now by finding a way to start slowly introducing more ideas over there, not just democracy but religious freedom as well? And if not now, then when? Whenever we get that change, it’s going to help us. We do want to make it clear our conflicts in the Middle East are not about Islam, which would be pretty easy if the people we were invading over there were Christians.
Note: The company has now agreed to remove the verses from the gunsights.