"The Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth it is this, and Protestantism has ever felt it so; to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant." (-John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine).

"Where the bishop is, there let the people gather; just as where ever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church". -St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca 110 AD)a martyr later thrown to the lions, wrote to a church in Asia Minor. Antioch was also where the term "Christian" was first used.

“But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15

"This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic." -CCC 811

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Muslim converts to Christ, frowned upon by the Ummah and Christian communities

by Mohammed Christophe Bilek
Mohammed Christophe Bilek pleads with Muslims to defend freedom of conscience and the right of Muslims to change their religion in the same way that Christians can embrace the Muslim religion. At the same time, he calls on Christians not to marginalise converts and work instead to ensure their rights in Muslim countries and in Europe.

Paris (AsiaNews) - Many Muslim converts to Christianity face direct persecution by Muslims and indifference from fellow Christians, not only in their countries of origin, but also in Europe, where freedom of conscience is not protected, only the freedom of Muslims to bear witness to their faith is. Mohammed Christophe Bilek makes his plea in a letter to AsiaNews.

Mohammed Christophe Bilek was born in Algeria in 1950 and has lived in France since 1961. He is the author of Un Algérien pas très catholique (A not very Catholic Algerian), published by Cerf (1999) and Saint Augustin raconté à ma fille (Saint Augustine as told to my daughter), published by Éditions Qabel (2011).

In the 1990s, he founded Notre Dame de Kabylie (in French), a website devoted to Muslim-Christian dialogue and to evangelisation among Muslims.

Dear friends, if persecution is the destiny of many Christians, what about Muslims who want to become Christians? They are like children asking to be born who are denied the right to exist!

This week, an Algerian man baptised at Easter told me, "This Muslim community, this Ummah that wants to enslave me, makes me sick. Allah does not enslave me as the Ummah claims; it is the Ummah that wants to enslave me . . . in Allah's name! I do not want to be a dogma's prisoner; I do not want to live a lie! God calls me instead to the truth of the Gospel that frees! I do not impose my faith on anyone, not even on my daughter; why do they want to impose the Muslim faith on me?

Yes, dear friends, those who choose to follow Jesus Christ today, like I did more than 40 years ago, are in hiding in France, in Europe, fearing abuses and retaliation from their families and communities. Imagine the lives our brothers who do not have the possibility to live in countries that respect freedom of conscience, who hide away in Morocco or Tunisia, for example.

They beg and implore us to pray for them and not forget them. But we must do more and come to their defence against laws made by men, not God, that deny freedom no matter what those who impose them say.

How can we defend them? With weapons? Certainly not! Or rather yes, but with the weapons of the Gospel: justice, truth, charity and brotherhood.

When it comes to justice and truth, let us stop denying the facts, namely that we, as Christians in the vast Muslim world, have been deprived of our rights and freedom. We only have to consider the apostasy law, established under Sharia and enforced in many countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Let me ask you: Did Jesus Christ by chance impose his law? Even though it is a law of love, did he ever force anyone to practice it? Does the Catholic Church, for example, excommunicate and issue fatwas against those who leave it to become Muslim? Does it threaten them with the wrath of hell because their names are in the register of baptisms?

Certainly not! Do you know why? Because faith is a freely given commitment to God. It is to Him that each one of us will have to respond.

Now, why is it that the right to leave Christianity, which converts to Islam have, is not recognised for those who want to leave the Muslim religion to follow Jesus Christ? To honest Muslims I say: Show some charity and accept this equality before God, the only judge, without second thoughts or regrets! Say it publicly, at least here in France and Europe, where you claim your rights. Be consistent and credible; accept equal rights for your brothers who chose another path!

On Christian brotherhood, I can only repeat the words of the aforementioned Algerian. "Muslims make me sick; that is a fact because they pry into my inner life, which concerns [only] God [and me]. But those who really get to me are our fellow Christians who talk to Muslims but do not lift a finger to help us. Do they take us for liars? I ask myself: Are we, for them, false brothers or sub-brothers?"

My Algerian friend is right: How can we believe in the sincerity of Christians who, whether they believe it or not, here in France of Europe, only talk about 'Islamophobia' or the "stigmatisation of Muslims", and are silent or look away from the sufferings and abuses visited upon Christians, who are prevented from living their faith in their country of origin and countries of exile? Are they not discriminating between them and us? Short of calling it racism, is it not segregation between them and us? How can they believe in fairness when they only complain about some and not other injustices?

Let me conclude here by reiterating, before God and to whoever has ears to hear, the words of a famous daughter of France: Our duty is not to convince you. Like Joan of Arc who is represented by this statue, since our Lord must be served first and our soul belongs to God according to the expression of Saint Augustine, whose name this church bears, we publicly bear witness that Jesus Christ is persecuted today in his brothers and sisters who come from the Muslim tradition.

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