I express frustration on this blog from time to time with the bizarre and offensive positions taken by some of my fellow Christians. And I maintain that those positions are still bizarre and offensive, still beneath organized Christianity, and still rather more damaging to the cause of evangelism than not.
But let me for a moment point out the following. We do have some crazies. But we do not by any means have a monopoly on religious insanity, nor do we even have the worst offenders.
We do NOT have people taking hostages, and demanding the hostages convert to Christianity at gunpoint. (At least, not anymore. I make no excuses whatsoever for the Conquistadors presently rotting in hell or for the 19th Century African missionaries who thought the Africans could only find God at the end of a chicotte.)
Nonetheless, neither can excuses be made for the so-called Holy Jihad Brigade who kidnapped journalists Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig, then released a video showing them converting to Islam--a conversion obtained by pointing pistols at their heads and ordering them to do so.
Yes, you can suggest that they might have martyred themselves for Christ in that instance, but let's not miss the point here: namely, a conversion obtained under threat of death, like a confession obtained through torture, is meaningless garbage and insulting to both faiths involved.
The same (decidedly un)Holy Jihad Brigade initially argued that they'd kill the two journalists unless America released all Muslims held in its prisons. Another attempt to force non-genuine conversions, because if we had decided to go utterly insane and wantonly release all "Muslim" prisoners in the jails how many new converts would we suddenly have? Hmm... Would they be genuine converts? I doubt it.
What the hell are they thinking? Does it matter if they win a convert by threatening him with death or freedom from legal trouble? Suppose for a moment Islam is the one true faith. Does God want converts to His one true faith made by the sword, by threats and intimidation, or by empty gifts? No. I may not be the strongest Christian and I certainly don't have all, or even very many, of the answers. But I'm fairly confident in my belief that such conversions offend God more than they please Him.
Then, al-Qaeda, after causing thousands of deaths in this country and demonstrating nothing but a desire to kill innocent Americans, has the gall, the unrepentant nerve, to put some fat-faced fuckwad in a turban on video and encourage all of us to convert.
And we're at war in Iraq. We're committing billions of dollars and thousands of lives to an imperialist experiment, when we should be committing the same and more to rooting out these people and destroying them with all the dedication they have to destroying us. That's what this whole Iraq war should-we-stay-or-should-we-go-now thing comes down to. Are we really defeating the people we're meant to be at war with? The terrorists are scary people--the notion that they might find a way to park a bomb in the U.S. and then threaten to blow it up unless everyone in the city converts. I am not now and have never been convinced that the war in Iraq has done anything whatsoever to defeat those people.