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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christians, Muslims share ideas on loyalties

We applaud Pastor Steve Odam of Murfreesboro’s central Christian Church for speaking up. Indeed the evil purists in a society when no one speaks up against unjust men and women. 

However, let me add that Muslims do not take their pledge to Sharia Law, Sharia in its simplicity is guidance manual to create just societies, and it is human to err, except three Muslim majority nation, no other nation is bent on stoning the adulterer to death or hanging the apostate… because it is not in the Quraan. What those three out of 56 Muslims majority nations practice is a cultural and not religious. Just as most of the western states do not have capital punishment, we in the United States do, still carry that primitive practices, it is our culture and not a western value. You can learn more about Sharia at www.Sharialaws.com or directly at http://sharialaws.blogspot.com/2011/07/sharia-in-one-gulp.html

The Quraan says one must be loyal to God, the prophet’s wisdom and the elected leaders with a caveat that the rulers must be just, if not you must speak out against injustice.  Islam is pure common sense.

Mike Ghouse for a cohesive America
GUEST COLUMN: Christians, Muslims share ideas on loyalties


Lately I've read many times and in many places that a Muslim's first loyalty is to Shariah law, as for example in Marshall Boates' letter to the editor (The DNJ, Dec. 7): "The Muslims' first pledge is to Shariah law. All other authority is subordinate to Shariah law. Therefore Muslims cannot be allowed to defend our country because it is not their highest authority."

I would guess that many if not most of those who make statements like this are church-going Christians. Which puzzles me because they seem not to have thought of equally absolute statements like the apostle Peter's "We must obey God rather than men," when sanctioned by the "council" (local government in Jerusalem) for evangelizing. Christians have ever since referenced this and other similar statements and the history of subsequent encounters with imperial government in the Roman Empire. Repeatedly, in various sporadic persecutions by Roman government, Christians were given the opportunity to acknowledge the government's role as "highest authority." Repeatedly, Christians gave up their lives rather than do so. Religious allegiance has always been a part of the history of the West and Christians have sometimes been pressed to violate their ethics or beliefs by an inordinately dominant government.

These two religions' claim to have a higher authority than government should be seen as a salutary thing, not a problem. They are, while not identical, at least analogous to one another. Christians who understand their faith know implicitly that we hold allegiance to our country and its government only at arm's length, so to speak. It is a secondary allegiance at best. God is our first allegiance, and we may not sacrifice that loyalty on the altar of convenience. Fortunately, in a well run representative republic, there are seldom occasions when a Christian is absolutely pressed to the wall of sacrificing allegiance to God in favor of government or facing the consequences.

Different Christians see the religious/governmental conflicts differently, and it is out of the pacifist heritage against all forms of violence and war that the traditions of affording citizens the opportunity to register as Conscientious Objectors originates.

Certainly Muslims have a higher allegiance than government. The problem lately has come from the misreading by certain Muslims of what that requires them to do when different allegiances clash. There is this aspect to the Islamic tradition, but it is by no means monolithic.

There are thousands of American Muslims who serve in the Armed Forces well and honorably. Rather than the rather simpleminded tactic of excluding service based on one's religion, it may well behoove the Department of Defense to be more attentive to statements like those made by Maj. Nidal Hasan prior to his murderous attacks on service members at Ft. Hood. This is simply common sense, such as the current administration has occasionally demonstrated when attacking terrorists and their leaders in recent events in Pakistan and Yemen for example.

The Christian and Islamic tradition re: Church/State relations are not identical, of course. But, we hold in common, with Jews also, the notion that God is Almighty, and to him alone belongs ultimate authority over the affairs of all. How this is sometimes put into practice reflects our different theologies and traditions. But it is not, in this country anyway, a basis for blanket exclusion from military service based on religion.

Steven Odom is the pastor of Central Christian Church in Murfreesboro and a former community member of The DNJ's Editorial Board.

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