Talk about a missed opportunity.
Bob Roberts, a prominent Evangelical megachurch pastor from Texas known for his efforts to promote peace with Muslims, had a chance to speak with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi on Sept. 24, 2012. At this meeting, Roberts came face-to-face with the man who can do more than anyone else in the world to protect the safety and well being of more than eight million Coptic Christians who are under siege in their homeland.
You have to be living under a rock not to know that Coptic Christians have been driven from their homes in the Sinai and Alexandria and murdered in Cairo. A word out of Morsi’s mouth, and all this comes to an end. Egypt’s military starts arresting the thugs responsible for the violence and pretty soon people get the message: “Leave the Copts alone.”
So how did Roberts, who blogged about his meeting here, respond to his opportunity to speak with Morsi at a meeting organized by John Esposito, a well-known and oft-criticized proponent of Christian-Muslim dialogue?
Did Roberts show the courage of Nathan and put Morsi on the spot and tell him that the whole world is watching what is happening to the Copts in Egypt?
Did Roberts tell Morsi that history would judge his presidency on how well he protects the rights and lives of Copts during his time as president?
Did Roberts call on Morsi to rein in Salafist clerics who are calling for Copts living outside of Egypt to be murdered in retaliation for the production of the movie Innocence of Muslims by a Coptic Christian in California?
Did Roberts advocate for Coptic Christians the way people advocated for blacks living under apartheid rule in South Africa?
No, he didn’t.
When Roberts got his chance to speak he joked with Morsi about his own conservative roots, telling him “To us a Salafist would be a liberal!” Morsi loved this. “He died laughing and started pointing to someone saying something in Arabic,” Roberts reported.
Roberts’ joke is not funny. It’s obscene. There is simply no comparison between Evangelical Protestants in the U.S. and people who have cut off the ear of a Christian in an attempt to get him to convert, set fire to a church in Cairo, and evicted Christians from their homes throughout Egypt.
Why would Roberts make such a joke to Morsi, a man who has released a number of jihadists from jail since assuming office? How could he? A responsible leader would warn Morsi about the Salafists, not joke about them.
Later, Roberts gave Morsi a pen and a copy of his most recent book. He also promised to come visit and see for himself what Egypt was like.