Liberal media critical of efforts to reach Iraqis
Don HinklePathway Editor
April 22, 2003
JEFFERSON CITY – As Missouri Southern Baptists make preparations to minister to the people of Iraq, much of the liberal news media are ratcheting-up their criticism of such plans, perhaps putting peoples’ lives in jeopardy.
The most recent flurry of toxic activity began when Beliefnet.com, an ecumenical web site that promotes religious pluralism, published a story on Franklin Graham’s relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse, and its plans to provide aid to Iraq. The story featured mostly criticism of Graham’s organization, first from Ibrahim Hooper, a "spokesman" for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
His opening remarks pretty much set the tone: "They (Christians) go after them (Iraqis) when they’re most vulnerable and hope they can get them to leave their faith. It’s a very despicable practice."
Equally troubling was a recent editorial in The Kansas City Star. "It would be a mistake for groups that have been hostile to Islam and that mostly want to make religious converts to have a major relief role," the editorial stated.
The newspaper specifically mentioned such plans were underway by Graham and the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). "It would be dangerous and foolish to rely on relief groups that want to take advantage of the needs there to proselytize."The editorial also quoted Charles Kimball, a Baptist professor at Wake Forest University, whose divinity school is supported by former disgruntled Southern Baptists of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF).
We don’t "need to have organizations who have been so outspoken and carry a lot of baggage with them," he said. "It smacks of a kind of colonial Christian mission coming from the West to civilize the savages." He referred to Graham’s and SBC leaders’ desire to minister to Iraq as "arrogant and obnoxious."
Then there was Joel C. Rosenberg’s alarming report in World magazine that Time magazine has been working on "a sensational cover piece: the inside story of evangelical ‘special ops,’ missionaries working undercover in the Muslim world." The Time article has caused concern among mission agencies at a time when workers risk imprisonment or death. (Four Southern Baptist missionaries have been killed in recent months in Yemen and the Philippines.)Rosensberg discloses that Time editors have sent a four-page e-mail to their reporters worldwide explaining what they want:
"We are planning a major piece on the flood of Christian missionaries, most of them evangelical, to Muslim countries. We will touch on all kinds of missionary work … but we will eventually narrow our focus to a more radical crew of proselytizers: those who proclaim the Gospel of Christ, even if that means risking deportation, imprisonment, or death.
"Often, to avoid detection by authorities, this new breed employs a tactic called ‘tentmaking’ or ‘tunneling.’ Essentially, this means doing some kind of other work as a cover or pretext, when [the] real goal is preaching…. How exactly do they get away with preaching in such a hostile climate? (We are fascinated by this secret-agent aspect and would like to hear about it in great detail.)"
Time’s managing editor said his magazine is "a responsible publication that weighs carefully anything that goes into the pages of the magazine."
Let’s pray that it does.