Friday, July 18, 2014

It would be head in sand to be naive about Trojan horses


A commenter here thinks I have written a deplorable post (even after removing a few words from the original wording that I had not realised invoked a spectre I would not ever wish to invoke).

To aid you in judging whether it is deplorable and how deplorable it might be in your eyes, it may be worth reading the following articles from the Guardian newspaper re the matter sparking this post. For clarification, let me reiterate, this is the Guardian newspaper, not the Daily Mail, Sun, Telegraph even the Times).

In no particular order:

One article

Another article

Further article

Finally, this article.


Here in NZ we might be slightly pleased with ourselves that we have a settled state of affairs about women in public life, including life as bishops, compared with our counterparts in England.

But from England we can still learn a lesson or two. One lesson is to not be naive about Islam and a particular lesson is in this Guardian report.

That the vast majority of Muslim immigrants are peaceful, law abiding prospective citizens intent on a better life in a (perceived) better land should not lull any receiving country into thinking that no potential then exists for a Trojan horse of separatist, fundamentalist, women-deprecating Islamism to enter the body politic of the immigrant community and seek to influence the wider Muslim community with a version of Islam which seeks to transform the receiving country back to seventh century Arabia.

The Birmingham story is a sharp reminder of the possibility of growth in that influence to the point where the city council of a major city feels constrained to ignore the growth of that influence to the point where there is a 'head in the sand' approach to the development of an approach to education which is at variance with the overall and general shared values of a multi-cultural society such as Britain.

There are already a few signs appearing in our media of 'radical' preachers in our mosques beginning this Trojan work.

The fundamental naivety a Western country such as ours is likely to have is that Islam's core DNA about community and family life is integrateable into other non-Islamic communities. Within that DNA is a streak which is both separatist relative to surrounding communities and totalitarian in ambition, aiming to ultimately control the whole community, but as a closed rather than open society.

The misreading of the West is always that Islam is just like Christianity which has shown (mostly) in its DNA a capacity to go with the flow of surrounding culture, make adroit accommodations and generally work towards an open society.

Islam is not a non-identical twin of Christianity.

POSTSCRIPT: That some NZers are willing to join and work with Al-Quaeda is noted here.


Jean said...

If anyone is interested in better understanding Islam from the inside out I would recommend the book Bryden mentioned to me written by a Muslim immigrant in the US who is now a Christian apologist:
"Seeking Allah Finding Jesus"

It gives insight into the different Islam sects as well as his personal experiences in a new country.

Father Ron Smith said...

Fundamentalist religion is a real problem anywhere - not least in those countries where Islam is treated as a threat to local society. Any sort of religious fundamentalism is problematic in any society.

History teaches of Christian fundamentalism during the time of the Crusades. Even today, the level of conservative 'Christian' fear of other faith communities in our world can mar the witness of the Christian Gospel to those who want to blame religion for all of society's ills

The only answer to religious fundamentalism - of any type - is to follow the ethic of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; whose Commandment to Love will help to cast our the fear that seems to cripple those who doubt God's ability to save us from the worst in ourselves and others.

"A New Commandment I give to you: that you love one another as I have loved you."

"Perfect love casts out fear!"

'St.Francis met the Caliph and the Muslim Prince was so impressed with the love and peace that surrounded Francis, that he invited him to a meal, and sent him on his way, unmolested.'
(at the times of the Crusades)

Michael Primrose said...

Hi Peter,

“That the vast majority of Muslim immigrants are peaceful, law abiding prospective citizens intent on a better life in a (perceived) better land should not lull any receiving country into thinking that no potential then exists for a Trojan horse of separatist, fundamentalist, women-deprecating Islamism to enter the body politic of the immigrant community and seek, virus-like to infect the wider community with a version of Islam which seeks to transform the receiving country back to seventh century Arabia.”

Pardon me my disbelief, but I can’t understand how anyone, let alone a cleric, can get away with writing and publishing the above paragraph in twenty-first century New Zealand. I would have thought that even a passing knowledge of modern history would surely have been enough to ring instant alarm bells over the phrase “virus-like to infect the wider community". Let me quote the relevant statement from February 22, 1942

"The discovery of the Jewish virus is one of the greatest revolutions that have taken place in the world. The battle we are engaged in is of the same sort as the battle waged during the last century, by Pasteur and Koch. How many diseases have their origin in the Jewish virus! ... We shall regain our health only be eliminating the Jew." Adolf Hilter

And also the comment from the historian and biographer, Volker Ullrich in Der Speigel

SPIEGEL: You refer to a previously unknown letter from August 1920, in which a Munich law student recorded Hitler's views after an encounter with him. When it came to Jews, Hitler said, he believed the virus must be eradicated, and that the existence of the German people was at stake. How seriously did Hitler mean such statements at that point?
Ullrich: The political project that arose from his worldview did not yet consist of mass murder. Despite all the rhetoric of annihilation, "getting rid of the Jews" at that point meant expelling them from Germany. The so-called "Final Solution," meaning the systematic murder of Europe's Jews, did not enter into the plan until the beginning of World War II.

Whilst the current apology for an Australian Attorney General may believe that everyone has the right to be a bigot, I find it totally deplorable that such blatant sentiments, as those expressed above, can find any place in a blog purporting to be a centrist examination of “Anglican, theological, biblical and other matters, mostly missional or liturgical”

It is hardly analysis. It is not even cricket

Michael Primrose, Christchurch

Peter Carrell said...

HI Michael
I was not aware of 'virus' being used by Hitler and they have now been removed.

My point remains, however, that in Muslim communities, in countries such as Britain (notably), other European countries, Australia and now, possibly, our own, radical/radicalising preachers are seeking to influence young Muslims with a version of Islam which is anything but peaceful.

Are you denying or refuting that point?

Do you have any concern that Islamic terrorism is being fostered by such clerics or am I referring to a fantasy of an overwrought Western imagination?

The situation in Birmingham is becoming well-documented.

Incidentally, my greater concern than the fostering of terrorism is the fostering of Taliban- and Boko Haram-type attitudes to education for women. I.e. that women should be confined to homes ... again, that would not be cricket if such teachings were promulgated in our fair land would it?

Father Ron Smith said...

Again, Peter: misogyny and homophobia are clear characteristics of fundamentalist religion - to be shunned in any society, let alone those who call themselves 'Christian'.

We all have a duty to resist human injustice, wherever it is practised - even in the name of religion!

Michael Primrose said...

Hi Peter,

If you read the articles on the Kershaw report, which was commissioned by the Birmingham City Council, into this issue you get the following quotes

“But the two reports drew widely different conclusions, with Kershaw concluding that the activities of governors - alleged to have promoted an Islamist agenda - was restricted to a handful of schools and did not amount to the imposition of "a hardline, politicised strain of Sunni Islam" on children, as claimed by Clarke.”

“Kershaw found there had been a "determined effort to change schools, often by unacceptable practices, in order to influence educational and religious provision for the students served". But he noted that this effort was partially fuelled by a "genuine and understandable desire" to improve standards for children from an ethnic minority group that had long been poorly served by education in the city.”

“He found "no evidence of a conspiracy to promote an anti-British agenda, violent extremism or radicalisation of schools in east Birmingham". .Kershaw found that some headteachers and governors had broken the law by introducing Islamic assemblies without the correct authorisation. The main culprits were "men of Pakistani heritage" who "moved between schools as they tried to spread their agenda through the unacceptable bullying and harassment of headteachers".”

The failure seems to have been more on the part of the Birmingham City Council officials, who Kershaw believes did not act for fear of stirring up Islamophobia in a multi-culturally diverse and rather tense city..

In a similar situation, I would find the actions of a conservative, Church of England aligned Board of Governors equally abhorrent, if they tried to impose their brand of fundamentalist beliefs on a secular school, which was run by local government authorities. If you read through the “Specific evidence of extremism in the schools” in the Guardian articles

and substitute hardline, conservative Anglicans as governors, then what they were alleged to be attempting to do in the school, would not find disfavour with a number of correspondents here. Teaching Creationism instead of Evolution, the separation of boys and girls, prayers before and after lessons, putting pressure on teachers who did not follow the Anglican way and had independent thoughts, if this is what was being done in the Anglican school then a lot of people would think this is was a GOOD thing and do so at the moment.

My objection is to the imposition of fundamentalist religious ideas, of any flavour, into a secular school system, especially to the exclusion of other ideas. The recent High Court challenge in Australia over the issue of school chaplains is based on a similar concern over the forcible intrusion of “god botherers” into a secular society.

I am even more concerned about the fanning of religious hatred in a multicultural society such as New Zealand. If we are to learn anything from the UK, it should surely be how irrelevant the Anglican Church becomes, to a modern society, if it tries to force that modern society back to views that were supposedly held in the early centuries of the Christian Era, such as the Jensenist ideas on the role of women within the Church.

I will not resile, from my belief, that this a deplorable article, which appears to be using a complex and as yet unresolved case of race relations, as an excuse to thump a drum, that should not be heard in modern Aotearoa.

Michael Primrose, Chistchurch

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Michael
The Kershaw report is alarming according to the link you provide and it is, contrary to you assertion, improbable to imagine anything similar being written about 'Anglicanism' imposing an agenda of such a kind on secular schools, nor accompanied by bullying and harassment, nor causing a city council to feel disinclined to take action

I acknowledge that you find my post deplorable, but are we really that far apart when you deplore the imposition of extremism and so do I?

It seems we differ re the Trojan horse element of a specific and extremist Islamic agenda being brought into a benign and tolerant country. In Britain this is not only about schools in Birmingham, it is also about preaching in mosques which stirs up extremist attitudes and is linked to recruitment to terrorism.

Do you think that a Trojan horse element will never enter NZ? (According to my postscript in the post, it appears to be here already!)

If it does enter, should we have forewarned ourselves about it or simply hoped it would never arrive?

Michael Primrose said...

Hi Peter,

“The Birmingham story is a sharp reminder of the possibility of growth in that influence to the point where the city council of a major city feels constrained to ignore the growth of that influence to the point where there is a 'head in the sand' approach to the development of an approach to education which is at variance with the overall and general shared values of a multi-cultural society such as Britain.”

This newly added paragraph ignores the fact of the riots that occurred in Birmingham in December 2011. It also conveniently forgets the tragic death of three young men, who were deliberately run over, whilst protecting their property from looters

“In the very early hours of Wednesday 10 August, three young Asian males, Haroon Jahan, 21, and brothers Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31, were taken to City hospital. As part of a crowd of 80 they had been protecting their neighbourhood in Winson Green some two miles away from the Barton Arms pub, when they where run down by a driver.

Then at 7.30pm, Tariq Jahan, the father Haroon, who only hours before had given CPR to his dead and bloodied son, gave what the West Midlands police chief Chris Sims described as a "breathtaking speech". Jahan told the crowd to go home or be prepared to lose their own sons. Just over an hour later West Midlands police reported there was no disorder on the streets, for the first time in three days.”

The situation in Birmingham is far more complex than a purely simplistic warning about a “heads in the sand” approach to education warrants. There are so many dangerous factors at play here that I don’t believe that you can simply pluck a single thread, from the tangled web of racial relations in the UK over the past sixty years, and use it to pull a hobby horse around in New Zealand.

I would have thought that you should be far more concerned at the growing chorus of people demanding the removal of ALL religious instruction from secular schools, as a consequence of this “Trojan” horse galloping around the fertile fields of prejudice.

I agree that the State should act to remove, or alleviate the deleterious effects of fundamentalist religious ideas, and teaching on a modern secular society. And when the State loses patience with the Anglican Church and decides to drag it screaming and kicking into the twenty-first century, along with the rest of society, I presume that we will be all agreeing that this is also a GOOD THING?

But I suppose one religion’s fish is another religion’s poisson

Michael Primrose, Christchurch

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Michael
Race relations in all countries these days seems to be complex, sometimes (even often in some places) at flashpoint and certainly to be handled with care.

I am not sure how that leads to some kind of head in sand approach to bullying of head teachers and to subverting secular education being a deemed a reasonable and acceptable response to the wider state of race relations.

I am less concerned with secular people asking determinedly about the place of Bible teaching in secular schools. That question is able to be asked within a secular democracy. Further, the place of Bible in Schools for a long time now has always been subject to the democracy of boards of trustees voting on whether to permit such activity within school grounds. I would not wish Bible in Schools to be taught as a result of (a) subversion of local or national democracy; or (b) avoidance of democratic consideration of whether it should or shouldn't be taught in a particular school or in schools generally.

I am not quite sure what you mean when you write the following: "I agree that the State should act to remove, or alleviate the deleterious effects of fundamentalist religious ideas, and teaching on a modern secular society. And when the State loses patience with the Anglican Church and decides to drag it screaming and kicking into the twenty-first century, along with the rest of society, I presume that we will be all agreeing that this is also a GOOD THING?"

If you are talking about the State's right to influence the course of religion as it seeks to impose itself through an otherwise secular school system, or to draw men and women into criminal (terrorist) behaviour, then, yes, I agree.

If you are talking about the right of people to believe what they will so long as it is expressed in appropriate ways (e.g. through a religious schooling system; through behaviour which many might deem quaint or eccentric or weird, but not otherwise criminal), then I do not agree.

There are some weird aspects to being Anglican that are not taught in secular schools and do not lead to breaking the law ... and I would not wish the State to start interfering with these aspects :)

Father Ron Smith said...

I think that now. more than ever, we Christians should be prepared to join in solidarity with other faith communities to witness to peace between those of us who recognise we are the children of the same God - and who want to live together in peace and harmony with each other.

Next Saturday, some of us from St. Michael's, Christchurch, will be making a fraternal visitation to the local City mosque, to show our respect for other peace-loving children of the Living God.

Several Popes have made similar gestures towards people of other faith communities - in the hope of finding common ground together.

"They'll know you're my disciples by your Love" (not by your tendency to demonise others)

Jesu, mercy; Mary, pray!

Unknown said...

HI Peyer,
There is indeed a 'trojan horse' in New Zealand which is feeding
on the green green pastures of God's Own'.
It comes in the teachings, of none other than Sir Lloyd Geering.
The dust jacket of his book,[Faith's New Age',states:'this third phase is this-worldly.It is
concerned with man's psychological and social welfare
understood scientifically but inspired by a faiin the potentiality of man-the animal in whom indeed God has come down to
earth.Thus the secularization of
countries previously dominated by 'historical'Christianity is seen as the key spiritual movement of the modern age,'
Into this void comes???????
Goodbye God's Own !!!!!!!!

Father Ron Smith said...

Glen. Come down tp earth, won't you.

There is no need to fear those other philosophies that upset your own idea of the reality of God in Christ. There have always been such. Perfect love casts out fear - or at least, that's what the Holy Book tells us. Where is your faith!

Christ is risen, Alleluia!

Unknown said...

Hi Ron,
I might just come down to earth someday;it might even coincide with one of your brief but very occasional visits there.
If there is no need to concern
ourselves with humanistic philosophies which do not line up with the Revelation of God;why bother having a Church???
Why did Christ,Himself, as well as the Apostles warn about false teachers and false prophets???
Why heed the Commandments that we worship God alone???
I personally do not fear these
philosophies,but love my fellow
man too much to want to see led away from Christ by false teachings.My faith is in Him and Him alone.

Bryden Black said...

Michael - and Peter. I fancy part of the complexity that is modern England is being missed. My figures are from 2007 and I'd imagine they are today in all probability higher.

How is it that the English police were unable to progress to prosecution stage at least 18,000 reported grievous assaults on Muslim women?

The answer has at least to do with the emerging ghettoizing of large Islamic sections of English society. While this in your eyes Michael might be a Trojan horse or equivalent, it certainly shouts a lack of desire to 'assimilate' into the seeming desirability of a secular, pluralist Western ethos.

Unknown said...

Hi Ron,
Next Saturday,you could ask the bros down at the mosque about the origin of 'love'.
St John wrote:"He that loveth not
knoweth not God;For God is love."
1 John 4/8.
St.John did not say that God created love or that He became love but that He is love.
So the strictly monotheistic God,
(the Father, without the Son or the Holy Spirit had no one to love in eternity.
Therefore,without any other beings or objects,with whom he
could have a relationship;how is it possible to speak of love?

Father Ron Smith said...

Glen, the triune God does not stop being triune - just because some of His worshippers do not know Him in that modality.

Abraham has many children - Jews, Muslims and Christians. Jesus, in fact, was a Jew!

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron
The truest and purest worshippers of God in the modality of Allah are the soldiers of the ISIS Caliphate who are threatening to kill Christians with the sword, and member of the Taliban in Afghanistan who wish to make women subservient to men and ignorant through denial of education.

Tell us, please, whether these pure worshippers of Allah are actually 'children of Abraham'?

Indeed, are they children of the God who is revealed through Jesus to be Love?

Father Ron Smith said...

I do not see anyone who adverts to actions of violence against anyone else to be a true Abrahamic- descended child of the Living God, Peter. Does that answer your question?

The God I believe in - who is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ - is the God of Love.

All children of Abraham are called to give evidence of their true inheritance by carrying out the loving service of God and one's neighbour that is enjoined upon them by the practice of the faith of Abraham that they proclaim.

Those parts of the Quran that are consonant with Biblical principles are what the majority of the Muslim community profess to live by. There are not the extremists - whose hatred of others who do not conform to their rigorous standard of 'purity' - are causing havoc amongst Muslims, Christians and others in today's world.

'Jihad' is not one of those basic principles - nor was the work of the 'Crusades'.

What is missing from both of those characteristic religious exercises is the advice of Jesus: "Love your enemies!"

Unknown said...

Hi Ron,
My life would certainly be so much less informed without your 'pearls of wisdom'.
It had never ever struck me before, that God would cease to be Triune because some of His
worshipers do not know Him in that
modality.Really Ron,think your argument out.
If God is, as the Creeds say He is;God the Father,God the Son and
God the Holy Spirit:and we will only recognise the one aspect of
Being,then we are worshiping a god that is less than 'GOD'.
"If God created man in His owm image,we have more than reciprocated."Voltaire

Father Ron Smith said...

If you insist on semantic purity on belief and the nature of the God-Head, Glen. Answer this question:

If God is Triune; Father, Son and Holy Spirit (which I do believe!); then which of the Three Persons do you consider provides humanity with the divine image and likeness? Is it just one of them, or all Three? And if we are counselled to be like Jesus, are we cutting out the other Two?

I know this is like the question; How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?; but sometimes we need to sharpen up our respect for a true understanding of 'Mystery'.
Some mysteries cannot be teased out and dogmatically pronounced upon - for fear of pretending we know 'All the mysteries there are'

Bryden Black said...

I think Ron you might benefit from the book Jean mentions at the start of this thread. For in it you see the absolute importance of the Islamic principle of jihad. What might, just might, be a matter of interpretation is the manner of its exercise.

Caleb said...

It seems to me that the first important question to ask is: why are some Muslims so angry at the West?

Unknown said...

Hi Ron,
I do not presume to know many of the 'mysteries of the Godhead;but
I do understand the difference
between looking at the example
of the Incarnare Son of God and
basing my theology on the premise,
that to see Him as God, is the greatest blasphemy you can commit.

Unknown said...

Hi Ron,Have just come in from tending the sheep and their lambs,so will deal to your question further.
All three,Father,Son and the Holy Spirit both gave and gives man their humanity,The Father sent His Only Begotten Son;who was obediant to death,(to the Father);and the Holy Spirit gives witness to what the Father and Son said and did,(Word and Deed).
My previous postings have spoken of the error of trying to divide the nature and character of God.
The Trinity is an accepted part of the Catholic Faith and to
restate what is in Creeds is not
pretending to know"all the mysteries there are".Perhaps it was Mohummad who did, when he
denounced Christ.

Unknown said...

Hi Caleb,
The Old Testament is quite clear
that God had made a covernant with Abram.Sarai made human plan to bring about the promise of God.
However,when human connivances
enter into the fulfillment of God's Will,disaster soon follows.
Herein, lies the foundation of the Islam's hatred of Judaism and Christianity.
The re-creation of the State of Israile in 1948 and the USA's
support of them,has been the the cause of their festering embittement.They know not the love of Christ;and further claim that the recognition of His Divinity is is the greatest blasphamy which one can commit.
In his denounceation of Christ,Mohammud established a god that is less than God.In short,the Islamic Faith is Idolatry.

Father Ron Smith said...

Another point, Caleb,. might be: Why are Sunni Muslims to intent on jihad - even against fellow Muslims?

Perhaps their sense of righteousness might also be found in conservative fundamentalist Christianity - maybe not to the death, but certainly not for the furtherance of unity.

Unknown said...

Hi Ron,
Does your gramaphoneplay any other tunes apart from denegrating
fundamentalist Christians???
Who is it that destroyed the unity of the Anglican Communion???
It was not conservative
fundamentalists.It is the revisionists who wish to rewrite the theology of the Church.
Who destroyed the unity of TEC(USA)????THE DEPARTING ANGLICANS??
NO,it was those who appointed a bishop living in a same-gender relationship;
Your arguments would make alot
more sense if you stop twisting facts to suit your dislike of those who do not follow Progressive Christianity.

Unknown said...

Hi Ron,
What's up Doc??? I answered your
question and you have not responded.
Perhaps the sense of 'righteousness' found amongst the Progressive Christians does not include unity with the 'Bible Believing Orthodox.

Father Ron Smith said...

"Who is it that destroyed the unity of the Anglican Communion???
It was not conservative" - Glen -

Perhaps I delay a wee while between answering your many questions, Glen, because i actually take time to think about what is involved - before writing.

In answer to your question above, may I engage in a bit of biblical counter-questioning, by asking you: "Who moved away?"

This reminds me of the placard I saw in a car window: "Feeling the absence of God? Guess who moved!

Unknown said...

Hi Ron,
Who moved away from what????????
The Conservative Anglicans have not moved away from the Scriptures,the Constitution or the Church of England Empowering Act 1928.
The liberals have moved in with TEC(USA) into Progressive Christianity and their god (secularism).
Perhaps it would be well for you to delay a long ,long while before you answer those questions.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron and Glen
I now consider this particular correspondence on this specific thread to be at an end.
Your points have been made and neither has budged ... so let's leave it alone for now.