The price of convenient falsehood

September 6, 2010

Islam, New Evangelical

When will we Bible-believing Christians see the depth of our demise?  We’re no longer the clean-cut sheriff guarding the B-Western’s lonely town.  We’re the snake-oil poison’s grizzled peddler. 

Think of some passages from our beloved book: John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth;” John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me;” John 7:18, “He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him” (emphasis added).  

Get it?  Truth embeds Christ.  Lies screech like nails on his chalkboard, which is why he growls at his opponents: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire.  He was a murderer, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).  

It’s settled.  Christ loathed deceit.  The term, “disingenuous Christian” is an oxymoron, like “cooked ice.”  We “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) – even about those with whom we disagree. 

The twisted image 

So why are many alleged Bible believers peddling a certified lie?  A recent Pew study found that 18% of all Americans believe President Obama is a Muslim.  That’s flat-out wrong – and spreading falsehood on a jaded but gullible public is immoral and chilling.  Entire societies have swallowed culturally-approved lies with cataclysmic results: slavery, Jim Crow laws, lynchings; the Native American slaughter; jailed, innocent Japanese Americans during World War 2; Hitler’s Germany; Stalin’s Soviet Union; Rwanda.  Christians should reflexively clamor against falsehood whatever our political  differences.  

And yet I remember the spiteful e-mail during the 2008 presidential campaign:  A Christian leader labeled Obama a “Muslim terrorist” and me a “liberal” when I asked for evidence.   Islamophobia fermented with Barack-Michelle hatred and vindictive religio-nationalism.  Non-haters were unpatriotic and – since Jesus wrote the Star Spangled Banner – at least semi-heretical.  All self-contradictory anti-Obama tidbits were right; anything favorable was sacrilegious.  The nebulous propaganda machine churned out dressed-up e-mails: He was a socialist, communist, fascist, un-American, atheist fanatical Muslim who faked a Hawaiian birth certificate.  And there was no post-election pause.  I can see the late Senator Joseph McCarthy smile from the grave as he watches his tried and true method: tell and re-tell the lie until many capitulate beneath its weight – and this time, the Bible-believers promote it, stomping the very Scriptures they’ve memorized. 

 When the influential perplex 

Christian leaders on the right and left should rally to the cry: “Stop it.  Authentic debate is welcome and healthy.  Promoting and participating in unsubstantiated rumor is sinful (see the references to gossip and slander in Proverbs 11:13; 16:28; 18:7-8; and 20:19 – among other passages).”  And those who bear the burden of the fabled last name, “Graham,” must rise to the occasion.  

But Franklin Graham muddled through his obvious ambivalence during a recent CNN interview: “First of all, I think the president’s problem is that he was born a Muslim.  His father was a Muslim.  The seed of Islam is passed through the father like the seed of Judaism is passed through the mother … His father gave him an Islamic name … Now, it’s obvious that the president has renounced the prophet Mohamed and he has renounced Islam and he has accepted Jesus Christ.  That’s what he says he has done.  I cannot say that he hasn’t, so I just have to believe the president is what he has said … but the confusion is because his father was a Muslim he was born a Muslim … The Islamic world sees the president as one of theirs.  That’s why Khadafi calls him my son.  They see him as a Muslim, but of course the president says he is a Christian, and we just have to accept it as that.” 

I’m breathless after navigating through Graham’s logical peaks and valleys.  First, Obama’s Muslim-reared father adopted atheism as a young man.  Assertions from the Hadith (sayings and actions attributed to Muhammad) demand the blood of “the one who reverts from Islam” (Bukhari, volume 9, #17).  Second, Barack Obama Senior left his wife and child when the future president was two and visited him only once.  Third, Politifact researchers found experts on Islam refuting Graham’s “seed of Islam” assertion.  Fourth, recent surveys show that most in the Muslim world disapprove of our president and nation.  He is not “one of theirs.”  

And fifth, Graham nullifies Obama’s alleged “problem” when he begrudgingly accepts his Christian faith, rendering his entire statement superfluous and baffling.   “The problem” plagues our nation, not the president, because a significant minority is swallowing snake oil.  Graham and others do us no service when they fail to denounce its grizzled peddler.  Lies about Obama are inexcusable, whether or not we agree with his policies. 

More in part 2.  

Balmer, Randall, “Franklin Graham Forgets That ‘God Has No Grandchildren,’” Religion Dispatches, August 30, 2010, http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/3234/franklin_graham_forgets_that_%E2%80%9Cgod_has_no_grandchildren%E2%80%9D/http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/3234/franklin_graham_forgets_that_%E2%80%9Cgod_has_no_grandchildren%E2%80%9D/ 

CNN interview of Franklin Graham, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X80jLJxZ_eA 

Greenwald, Glenn, “Obama’s growing unpopularity in the Muslim world,” www.salon.com, http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/08/05/muslims

“Growing Number of Americans Believe Obama Is Muslim,” http://www.creedible.com/creed/index.php/lnews/8-latest-news/575-growing-number-of-americans-believe-obama-is-muslim

Sanders, Edumund, “So alike and yet so different,” Los Angeles Times, July 17, 2008, http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jul/17/world/fg-obamadad17

Truth-O-Meter, “Graham said the ‘seed of Islam’ passes through the father to Obama.  We found widespread disagreement,” Politifact.com, August 26, 2010,  http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2010/aug/26/franklin-graham/graham-said-seed-islam-passes-through-father-obama/

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About Charles Redfern

Charles Redfern is an ordained clergyman specializing in healing and conflict transformation. He lives with his wife and son in Connecticut.

View all posts by Charles Redfern

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