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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Christians arrested for preaching... or not...

There is enough actual persecution of Christians in various parts of the world. Why are we inventing this nonsense? This is like that thing in California where a Bible study was “busted” and prevented from assembling because of zoning and other concerns, but it was posted everywhere as a violation of freedom of religion. It was said many times- I never thought I'd see that in my lifetime!"

I say this not to bash Christians or evangelism, but as a reminder to be careful about how you do it. There is a tactful and respectful way to approach any topic. Sometimes this is lost in an effort to be direct and clear. Or other reasons. I don't really know.

I commented on something on the web about the “Ground Zero mosque” (Park51/ Cordoba Project) and the person brought up this video of possible Christian persecution by not so much Muslims as Dearborn police who are overly protective of Muslims because obviously Muslims have taken over Dearborn- if you believe some people…

The video:

‘Sharia Law in Dearborn Michigan’

(And by sharia, they mean that you can’t evangelize or that Christianity is restricted. What sharia really means, most people are clueless. Including me.)

The video shows people passing out part of the Bible outside what they call a Muslim festival (15th annual Arab International Festival). They are swarmed by police and arrested. That definitely could look like a violation of rights.

I had a sneaking suspicion that it wasn’t the whole story. And it wasn’t.

Upon further investigation, the group called Acts 17 Apologetics was harassing people in many cases and caused an angry incident/confrontation either in 2009 or this year. This year, the police were called when a (non-Muslim?) festival worker was being harassed and videotaped. The group kept returning to the site and nearby area to see how close the police would let them get. Never mind that they could have gotten a booth inside the event and spoken and leafleted til their hearts were content. Or, they could invite a Muslim leader or individual to a debate or series of debates. Or offer to study and exchange beliefs together - a group of themselves with a group of Muslims. But, no, they chose a more confrontational method that got them in trouble.

And everyone’s upset about the police not allowing the filming. That’s not new. Some states have laws against it. Here’s an interesting NPR piece I heard recently on this topic:

I found bringing this up completely irrelevant to the mosque debate. Those Muslims weren’t harassing people, disregarding laws, leafleting, or attending Christian events to convert them to Islam. They are praying there now and want to build a community center and mosque.


In addition to also lumping this with the Park 51 mosque issues, Gingrich has this to say:

Newt Gingrich continues to demonstrate his unusual (for a politician) awareness of the stealth jihad threat. In this case, he quite rightly points out that Christians trying to preach to Muslims or convert them to Christianity is not illegal under U.S. law; it is only illegal under Sharia.


Most of what I saw when I googled Christians arrested at Dearborn festival were blogs and news items sensationalizing this and seizing on the fact that Christians were arrested and “all they were doing” was passing out copies of the Gospel of John. All the usual suspects picked up the story.

Very few bothered to see if there were other circumstances. What is the background info? What are the rules in Detroit for gathering? What are the rules in Detroit when a festival is present? Who is this missionary group and what is their track record?


The city’s response:

Arrests at Arab Fest a Matter of Public Safety

The mayor’s 5 page letter of response, including background info:


Here’s a Muslim weighing in on the issue of the so-called missionaries arrested by Dearborn police. He includes bits of the police reports that prove preaching lovingly to Muslims weren’t “all they were doing.”


Here are some interesting points made by a ( I assume) former Muslim whose site most likely aims to find holes in Islam’s teachings. I don’t know much about it. I know even less about the incident surrounding a Mr. Caner to which he goes into detail in this post, however.

The points critical of the missionaries are interesting and telling (and maybe more honest?), given what his site aims to do.


In this blog, the person was first critical of Dearborn police, wrote the Department, got a letter back (I assume it’s the 5 page letter the mayor put out- see above), and found that there were details she hadn’t considered and maybe was too quick to judge:

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