Hiring hit men to assassinate God’s enemies | VailDaily.com

Hiring hit men to assassinate God’s enemies

Author Salman Rushdie rejects Islam yet makes a living off it. Islam furnishes Rushdie, pen in hand, plenty of radical dogma to mock. Rushdie quips he’d go broke as a novelist if Islam vanished.I heard Rushdie speak in late April 2006 at a conference for Christian writers held at my undergraduate alma mater, Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. Among Christianity’s literary defenders, such as Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Gilead,” Marilynne Robinson, Rushdie stood out. An avowed atheist, he pressed a spirited defense for ditching all faiths as relics of an irrational mentality. He posited a case for atheism as more humane and intellectually respectable than blind belief in God, Allah or the gods. Atheism liberates minds, argued Rushdie, but religion imprisons them.Rushdie contended how what’s really true – atheism – religious zealots regard as untrue. What’s untrue is really true, although a minority espouse his bold atheism. Rushdie regards the world of gods, miracles, angels and holy men as colliding with what’s true. Untruth terrorizes the Earth. Those who assume they are the gods’ hit men murder to protect deities and restrict free speech by terrorizing unbelievers. The true world will emerge, Rushdie predicts, when the untrue religious world retreats.Such retrenchment won’t occur in Rushdie’s lifetime, he admits. This affords opportunity to fight Islam with prodigious literary output. Rushdie remembers boyhood horrors growing up in Hindu India when Pakistan broke away as a Muslim stronghold. Trains rolled into town with corpses of Hindu and Muslim fighters, turning freight cars used as morgues into ghoulish crimson. When religion rules the state, Rushdie sees carnage. Corpses are stacked up like cordwood. Competing religions cause vicious wars.Rushdie deserved death, decreed the late Ayatollah Khomeini, because the author insulted the Prophet Muhammad with his satirical novel “Satanic Verses.” Muslims believe mocking the prophet is tantamount to blasphemy. Islamic law prescribes penalties for insulting the prophet, ranging from prison to a death sentence.When a Muslim insults the prophet, the crime is very serious. Insult is regarded as apostasy. Apostasy, judging Islam false, is regarded as a capital crime in the Muslim world because, in effect, a criminal has abandoned the faith. In print, Rushdie celebrated his apostasy, flashing wicked literary wit to tease the prophet. Islamic courts condemned him to death because he makes a good living rebelling against Islam.I don’t defend Rushdie’s atheism, although if I experienced his boyhood horror of Hindus and Muslims butchering one another, I might abandon faith, also. But I do defend his right to publish what’s offensive and crammed with insulting parody.Both the Bible and the Quran list enemies of God. God is purported to declare, “If thou wilt indeed obey, then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies and an adversary unto thine adversaries,” Exodus 23:22. Similar vitriolic judgments are voiced in the Psalms and portions of the New Testament.In the Quran, God’s enemies are identified as unbelievers doomed to hellfire (2:98, 41:19 and 28). Believers are urged to “strike terror into God’s enemies and your enemy.” So Rushdie is doomed for his apostasy. Allah wants Muslims to kill his enemies, like a Chicago mob boss letting out death contracts on adversaries.This untrue world reigns as true in Islamic cultures, where religion rules because separation of church and state is non-existent. Why isn’t it ever considered? Princeton University scholar Bernard Lewis crisply delineates how the Christian West and the Islamic Middle East diverge. “In Rome, Caesar was God. In Christendom, God and Caesar coexist. In Islam, God is Caesar, in that he alone is supreme as the supreme head of the state, the source of sovereignty and hence also of authority and of law. The state is God’s state; the law is God’s law. The army is God’s army-and; of course, the enemy is God’s enemy.”When religion usurps the state’s power, it become coercive. God’s enemies are invariably persecuted. In such cultures of terror, democracy possesses no soil in which to take root. Consequently, any democratic experiment withers and dies.The prime reason I have portrayed Thomas Jefferson on stage since 1976 is because he fought for the Salman Rushdies of this world to publish and not perish because of it.In legislation he wrote as early as 1777 – which eventually passed into law under James Madison’s civic genius in 1786 as Virginia’s Statute for Religious Freedom – Jefferson defended authors like Salman Rushdie. He warned how coerced religious conformity at the Salem witch trials produced “habits of hypocrisy and meanness.” Such diabolic fear corrupts religion, Jefferson argued, and becomes an offense against “its Holy Author.”Magistrates in every culture, Jefferson argued, promoted false religion with compulsory taxes supporting churches. Patrick Henry pressed for taxation so religion could stay in business. Jefferson might have compared him to Rush Limbaugh in colonial garb. Both lacked formal higher education. Both glibly invented adages advancing their kind of liberty. Plus, church and state in bed with each other didn’t upset both men. Jefferson judged Henry dangerous because, in his zeal for liberty, he never cracked the books like Jefferson did to qualify as a lawyer. His clever tongue got him rave reviews.In order for our republic to flourish, citizens must join Jefferson, reaffirming what Islam denies: All people are free to choose their religion or deny it, and no religion can coerce devotion to its gods through government control.The Rev. Jack R. Van Ens is a Presbyterian minister who heads the nonprofit, tax exempt Creative Growth Ministries, which enhances Christian worship through lively storytelling and dramatic presentations. Van Ens’ book, “How Jefferson Made the Best of Bad Messes,” is available in local bookstores for $7.95.Vail, Colorado

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