OK, I'm going to admit something.
I listen to Rush Limbaugh...a lot.
He's always entertaining and thought provoking. Whether you like him or not, you have to at least grant that fact.
Limbaugh's comments yesterday about the release of Fox News journalists Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig were especially interesting at it relates to faith and the aims of Muslim extremists.
Since Rush's comments won't be up on his site after today, what follows is copied:
"I have to tell you there are a couple of things about this that I want to comment on. One is, we learned something. I don't know how many of us did, but did you know what these two guys had to do in order to gain their release? They told of being forced to convert to Islam, at gunpoint. Now, you might say, "Well, of course they did that so that gets them out of there," and so forth. But no, no, no, that's not enough, folks. There is a picture here, there is a message here. This is a glimpse into our future. This is their stated goal.
"You don't convert, you die. You don't convert, you remain an infidel, you're going to be a target. If you are Islamic and decide to renounce the faith, you are just as big a target...The New York Times runs this story, stating that Centanni and Wiig were released 'unharmed.' They were not 'unharmed.' That is my entire point! They were not unharmed! When you are forced to renounce your faith at gunpoint in order to live, do you know how many people have died refusing to do this? Your faith? It's one of the most personal, one of the deepest attachments people have is to their faith and to have a gun aimed at you and told to recant and to convert, and then to say you were released unharmed, maybe physically unharmed but this misses the point entirely. Of course it illustrates the people who think this, at the New York Times and write this, illustrates to them just how unimportant personal faith is to them, how meaningless it really is, and that's a big divide in this country."
Rush makes a sobering point about conversion. What these kidnappers did to Centanni and Wiig is a picture of what they seek to do to us--those who are not Muslims, those who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and those with no stated religion. You are free to convert to Islam, but if you choose not to, then you will be forcibly converted or killed. And as Rush observed, many believers in similar tough circumstances have refused to recant.
Rush said Centanni and Wiig "renounced their faith," but that may assume a bit too much. Does anyone know the faith of Centanni and Wiig before they "converted"? I don't think the public knows. But this point may be mute. From this point forward, if either one of the journalists should publicly "recant" their "faith," they will be apostates of Islam and subject to execution.
On YouTube, you can watch the five minute video of Centanni and Wiig's testimony. Near the beginning (I assume this is the raw tape from the kidnappers and not the edited work of the video's submitter) is this statement, with spelling and grammatical errors all:
"This decleration was aproved by them , and they accept the faith without any pressure"
You and I clearly see the irony of the situation. Why don't the Islamic kidnappers?
What happened to Centanni and Wiig was a terrible tragedy. It harmed them and all of us who treasure religious freedom and uncoerced conversion.
UPDATE 1: Story by David Aikman on this episode.
UPDATE 2: Christianity's Today "Weblog," written and compiled by Ted Olsen, makes the point that compulsion in religion deserves more than just op-ed coverage in the media.