Western Churches Neglect Causes of Radical Islam’s Rise In Africa

by Archbishop Council Nedd II

afhayeenka-al-shabaabHow did radical Islam become a legitimate threat in sub-Saharan Africa?

Should we care? Perhaps, because one possible reason stretches beyond the African continent. It may eminate from our own houses of worship.

After the recent shopping mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya by the Muslim terrorist group Al Shabaab, counterterrorism experts fear increased collaboration among the growing ranks of religious radicals in Africa operating across borders in vast, poorly-policed regions.

While terrorism experts are concerned with expanding radicalized Islam, my own leadership role in the Christian community has me preoccupied with how historically Christian areas and formerly majority-Christian countries are now under constant threat from al-Shabaab, Boko Haram and al-Qaeda in the Islam Maghreb.

It’s too soon to declare African Christianity dead, but it’s certainly ailing — and the West is to blame.

Christians went to great lengths to “civilize” Africa, and part and parcel of that process was bringing Christianity to sub-Saharan Africa.  But since then, the Church of England and the Episcopal Church in the U.S. ostensibly have abandoned proselytizing in Africa.  Most mainstream Western Christian denominations, in fact, now look with disdain on those still adhering to the very same faith churches once taught.

The Episcopal Church, for example, no longer adheres to the doctrine of the Bible as the inspired word of God.  The Western evangelical church in particular proclaims an overly-feminized form of Christianity in which men cannot act as men and women assert a theology that gives them dominion over men.

This “enlightened” West no longer honors the God-given roles and distinctions between men and women.  Actually, it demonizes them. This is why Christianity lost its appeal in, and its hold on, Africa.

The Western church no longer builds up men for the Body of Christ.  When the church prefers to place women in masculine roles, while discouraging men, the blessings of God vanish and it creates a vacuum.  When the Christian ministry becomes an occupation for those liking pretty buildings and beautiful vestments rather than a vocation to serve God, it’s no wonder serious Christians scoff and look elsewhere.

The Christian church in Africa and around the world has left a gap that Islam is filling.

Men clearly need the civilizing influence of women, but they also must remain men. The church is too involved in a feminizing process.  Wanting to love and serve God should not be at the expense of God-given manhood.  I am an unapologetic Christian, but I know that nothing in Islam requires or expects men to deny their manhood.  Islam does quite the opposite — encouraging separate manhood and womanhood.

Almost 100 years ago, English writer and lay theologian G.K. Chesterton said that most men in his day were reduced to Victorian lapdogs when it came to Christianity.  What might he say today?

There are now Christians who change the word of Jesus in the Lord’s Prayer to “Our Father and Mother who art in heaven” and the nature of Jesus in the Holy Trinity.  Is there little wonder why there aren’t more men in church and why men seeking God might turn away from modern Western Christianity?

Why would a man want to be part of a faith in which they are to be seen and never heard?  Couple this with the general depiction of Christ as sort of a pansy with well-manicured nails and a perfectly-trimmed beard. It is not is no surprise men are uncomfortable with this, and subsequently are unwilling to become churchmen.

In my lifetime, Ethiopia, one of the most storied Christian nations, took the path of India. Once majority-Christian, it is now divided into Eritrea, which is majority Muslim, and Ethiopia, which may be at least half-Muslim.

If people are genuinely concerned about the spread of Islam and subsequent radicalization, they should consider the Christianity they practice and teach.  Pastors no longer proclaim the Gospel, but instead favor of gay marriage or the prevailing populous cause du jour.

Don’t worry about Islam. The imams are doing their job.  It’s the pastors and priests who aren’t doing theirs.

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Archbishop Council Nedd II is a member of the national advisory council of the Project 21 black leadership network. He is the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Missionary Church in the United States and the Archbishop of Abu Dhabi. Comments may be sent to Project21@nationalcenter.org .

Published by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21, other Project 21 members, or the National Center for Public Policy Research, its board or staff.

Let’s Unite and Put ISIS to Flight

by Archbishop Council Nedd II

Having studied and taught history, I tend to look at things with a slightly longer view and in a broader context than most people. Most people tend to view the political world map as always having looked the way it does, but that clearly is not the case. The fact is that every couple of generations the geopolitical divisions change in a fairly dramatic way.

Most of these geopolitical changes, obviously, occur as a result of war or some armed conflict. ISIS has vowed to be the precipitating force for the next major geopolitical changes on the world map. ISIS is quickly encroaching on Jordan and has vowed to take control of the Holy Land. ISIS has also vowed to recapture Spain in the name of Islam.

If that’s not enough, not to be outdone by the ISIS newcomers, al-Qaeda has decided to focus its efforts on a conquest of the entire Indian subcontinent, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. Just five years ago, such exaggerated ambitions would have been considered little more than an absurd bluster by a small group seeking media attention. However, after viewing the ease with which ISIS has captured large swaths of northern Iraq and northern Syria, we all are right to be concerned.

The West and the Christian world should similarly be concerned that some of our citizens swiftly flocked to Syria and Iraq to assist ISIS in its efforts.

What should the United States do next? Recently I wrote an article calling for Kenya to be the firewall against Islam in Africa. However, the struggle in Kenya is only one front in this war against ISIS butchers, who will most assuredly stop at nothing in their effort to impose their barbarous brand of Islam.

We need several firewalls, and prompt and decisive action by world leaders, in order to extinguish the threat that radical Islam poses to our way of life.

The West, its affected political allies in the region, corporations and Christians must unite to stop ISIS now. How, you may be asking? First, Jordan and Turkey must also serve as firewalls. Jordan is all that stands between ISIS and Israel. Turkey, a secular state and NATO member with which the U.S. shares some affinity, must also be protected. If Turkey were to somehow fall to ISIS it would be an immediate psychological defeat for Europe.

Nations must step up in several ways. Nations must refuse to purchase or refine oil from any oil fields ISIS captures, and must make every effort to liberate those fields. Also, countries should immediately revoke the citizenship of those who leave home to fight with ISIS against the civilized world. The United Nations or the U.S., acting unilaterally, must confront France about press reports that it has been paying ISIS ransoms for its kidnapped citizens, funds which essentially gave ISIS start-up funds for its reign of terror. There is a high level of discernment with banks; however, money-transfer companies such as Western Union, MoneyGram International and Xoom must be discriminating when transfering funds into ISIS, Boko Haram and Al Shabab strongholds.

Last, and certainly not the least important, Christians and Jews must unite in prayer for peace and safety. In Zechariah 2:5, the Lord promises that he will be a wall of fire around his city. We need to come together. Deuteronomy 32:30 says that one person can put one thousand enemies of God to flight and two can put ten thousand enemies to flight. Imagine the power of thousands coming together in prayer and unity to defeat the threat that ISIS poses to the people of God.

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Archbishop Council Nedd II is a member of the national advisory council of the Project 21 black leadership network. He is also the founder of In God We Trust, an organization established to push back against the secular tide in this country that is seeking to remove God from the fabric of American life. Comments may be sent to Project21@nationalcenter.org .

Published by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21, other Project 21 members, or the National Center for Public Policy Research, its board or staff.

Saving Sarah From the Egyptian Salafis

by Archbishop Council Nedd II & Deacon J.T. Griffin

Almost six months into the reign of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, many people in the West and even Egypt lament the “Arab Spring” overthrow of long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak.

America and Mubarak shared a concern for anti-Western Muslim fundamentalists seeking to turn Egypt into an Islamic state. Mubarak’s treatment of the Muslim Brotherhood and other critics was undeniably harsh, but he did protect the weakest members of Egyptian society — specifically women, children and Egypt’s Christian minority.

Morsi took a very different approach. Pandering to those fundamentalists, it’s essentially “open season” on Egypt’s defenseless and disenfranchised.

For example, a 14-year-old girl named Sarah Ishaq Abdel-Malek is missing. She was taken from her family for likely sexually exploitation. Government authorities appear to know where she is being held and who is holding her, but she likely remains missing because she is a Coptic Christian held by fundamentalist Salafi Muslims.

The Salafis are strict Muslims with literal interpretations of the Koran and the writings of the Prophet Mohammed. They are determined to ensure Christian women only birth Muslim children, and to that end, they forcibly kidnap young Christian girls.

Copts are one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East. According to the ancient church historian Eusebius of Caesarea, Christianity was introduced in Egypt by St. Mark — one of the original twelve apostles — in 42 A.D. That’s shortly after the ascension of Christ and during the reign of the Roman emperor Claudius.

Nevertheless, current social and political unrest in Morsi’s Egypt gives Salafis carte blanche to torment Christians.

According to personal conversations with the family and Internet accounts, Sarah — who lives in Al-Dabaa, on the Mediterranean coast northwest of Cairo — was last seen by her cousin Mariam on September 30 while going to school.

Sarah is said to have caught the eye of Mahmoud Abu Zeid Abdel-Gawad, the son of a local Salafi leaders. Sarah and Mariam visited Gawad’s bookstore, located near their school, the day she disappeared. Mariam last saw Sarah at the store.

Two-and-a-half hours after her disappearance, Sarah’s father formally report his daughter missing. Days later, he accused Gawad of kidnapping Sarah.

What happened next is deeply disturbing. Sarah’s father received a telephone call from Gawad’s uncle, who told him that he would never see his daughter again.

A local police officer denied to the press that Sarah was kidnapped, saying Sarah’s father never reported her missing. While the officer suggested Sarah ran away with her boyfriend, this assertion withers in the direct sunlight of truth.

For one thing, it doesn’t square with the Salafis’ own account of Sarah’s fate.

On October 28, the local Salafi leadership warned human rights organizations against attempting to return Sarah to her family. They claimed Sarah converted to Islam and married a Muslim.

But, under Egyptian law, Sarah cannot make such decisions because of her age.

Furthermore, Sarah’s brother, Hani, directly contradicts significant elements of the officer’s narrative:

We reported her missing two hours after her disappearance. The report’s number is 409. There is also another police report 582 filed October 20th, filed against Abdel-Gawad, accusing him of kidnapping my sister, forcing her to marry him and convert to Islam.

Prosecutor-General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud issued an arrest warrant for Gawad on November 4 on charges of abducting and marrying a Christian adolescent. Sarah, however, has not yet been found. Whether Gawad will actually be arrested or made to answer the charges is questionable.

Unfortunately, Sarah’s story is not unique. It follows a well-established pattern of abuses that, especially since the fall of Mubarak, are commonplace. Reports submitted by anti-trafficking specialist Michele Clark and Coptic women’s rights advocate Nadia Ghaly to The Coptic Foundation for Human Rights and Christian Solidarity International document dozens of cases similar to Sarah’s.

Like many other Christian girls in Egypt, Sarah’s situation — and that of her family — is a desperate one. It may be that only God’s direct and sovereign deliverance will avail for her now.

Pray for her, fervently. Sarah Ishay Abdel-Malek is united to us, in Christ. What happens to her affects the whole body.

President Morsi recently rescinded sweeping dictatorial powers he granted himself just weeks before — thus making enemies of his friends in a miserably failed attempt to make friends of his enemies.

If Morsi is as concerned about perception as he now appears to be, he should enforce the laws on the books. He should arrest Sarah’s kidnappers. It’s not like authorities don’t seem to know where to find her.

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Archbishop Council Nedd II, a member of the national advisory council of the Project 21 black leadership network, is the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Missionary Church. J.T. Griffin is a deacon with the Episcopal Missionary Church.  Comments may be sent to Project21@nationalcenter.org .

Published by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21, other Project 21 members, or the National Center for Public Policy Research, its board or staff.