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Dining with the Devil By: Faith McDonnell
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Already well-established for killing Christians, Jews, Baha’I’s, and Muslims of the wrong sort, the Islamic Republic of Iran is about to descend to a new level of repression and persecution.  A proposed penal code nearing final passage in the Iranian Parliament would, for the first time, formally institute the death penalty for “apostasy.”   The Islamists in Iran would waste no time using this law against Christian converts from Islam, members of the Baha’I faith, and Muslim activists and dissidents.  So what are Christian churches in the United States doing in response to this threat to their fellow believers?  Holding prayer services?  Not one group of mainline/pacifist churches.  They are breaking the Ramadan fast (who knew they were fasting for Ramadan?) at an Iftar with Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Terming their dhimmitude as “an invitation to an international dialogue between religious leaders and political figures,” the American Friends Service Committee, Mennonite Central Committee, Quaker United Nations Office, Religions for Peace, and the World Council of Churches – United Nations Liaison Office announced this by-invitation-only dinner with the Iranian leader who has denied the Holocaust took place, threatened the annihilation of Israel, and who, along with the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has continued the tradition that began with the Iranian Revolution of violating the human rights of all Iranian citizens. 

Arranging the Iftar at Manhattan’s Grand Hyatt Hotel, accompanied by obsequious verbiage about “the significance of religious contributions to peace,” and “building mutual understanding between our peoples, nations, and religious traditions,” the event’s sponsoring committee is just the latest example of the pattern of Western behavior towards Islam that has been so well described and foretold in the work of Bat Ye’or and others.  In some cases, these mainline Christian leaders are toadies, hoping to avert a jihad-level catastrophe by assuming the position as submissive “People of the Book.”  In other cases, mainline Christian leaders have reached the point where the doctrines of the Christian faith (for which many Iranian Christians have been willing to die) have no meaning anymore, and all religions are equivalent.

Perhaps it would be worth it to hold your nose and dine with the devil if it meant an opportunity to speak out about Iran’s repression and persecution, to be a voice for those who are suffering, and to demand that Islam offer reciprocity for the freedom of religion and decency of treatment that Muslims have received from Christians, Jews, and Baha’is.  With Iran on the verge of a new level of repression, and religious minorities in Iran facing a new level of siege because of the proposed apostasy penal code, an American Christian leader is needed to speak with courage and forthrightness over a dinner plate.  To use the phrase that mainline liberal church leaders are so fond of when it comes to attacking George Bush, a prophetic voice to speak truth to power.   Ahmadinejad will hear such voices, but he will not hear them in the posh dining rooms of the U.S. mainline church leaders.  He will hear them in the prison cells and court rooms of Iran.


Faith McDonnell is the director of Religious Liberty Programs at the Institute on Religion & Democracy in Washington, D.C. Visit the website at www.ird-renew.org.


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