“When America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold”

A Letter from Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Kaduna, Nigeria


I promised myself I would do no more entries on the threatened Qur’an burning in Florida, despite the threats of Terry Jones even on this day.  But Peter Dewberry of Free Inside ministries told me of an e-mail he received from Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon in Nigeria.  Notice how actions here influence events elsewhere — and people overseas pay a steep price.

Peter introduces the letter:

I have met Bishop Josiah on several occaasions and was privileged to be a guest in his home in Kaduna in 2009. He has a burden for peace and understanding between Muslims and Christians in Africa.

— Peter Dewberry

Dear Brother Peter,

Thank you for your concern re- the plan by a Christian pastor wanting to burn copies of the Qur’an in protest of 9/11

We have been following the debate and I must say, I am personally worried about this type of reaction being tagged “Christian”! The question is; “would Christ do this in the interest of His kingdom and the great Commission he has passed on to his followers?”  Since our Lord would not take this action, in my own opinion, it is wrong to do such a thing.

Secondly, some events in the Western parts of God’s world have negatively affected those of us in the developing world, for example:

1. The invasion of Kuwait had nothing to do with Sokoto diocese of the Anglican Communion where I was bishop 1990-1998. The same day the allied Forces moved in, my Cathedral in Sokoto was attacked in protest. The Sultan then could not do much to stop the event. Their reason was that the west is Christian and since we are Christians, we had to suffer for the attack on an Islamic country! The reasoning is faulty, but that is a reality we live with in Nigeria.

2. The Danish Cartoon saga was another episode for which those of us who are Christians suffered its consequences. As a result of that unfortunate incident, Christians were killed and their places of worship were attacked in Kano and Kaduna.

These and some other events that took place in the West have had destructive impacts on Christians in the developing parts of the world. At the Episcopal Convention in 2003, I had the privilege of preaching at their main Communion service. At that service, I pleaded with TEC by saying that when America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold! I was not listened to, rather I was told Advil was available!

In the western world, the laws are there to be observed, this pastor is safe and protected by the US Constitution.  I and the Christians in my diocese, do not have that protection. The bad behavior of this pastor may lead to the death of hundreds and the destruction of millions worth of property. Is it worth it?

In light of the disastrous consequences of this un-Christlike behavior and the likely-hood of the act causing a lot of damage to the growing understanding between Christians and Muslims in Africa, we would plead with this brother pastor to carefully consider the impact of his proposed action on the lives of his fellow Christian believers living in Muslim contexts. We plead with him kindly do what Christ would do and NOT TO BURN THE MUSLIM SCRIPTURE!


Sincerely, “In Him”

Josiah +

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About Charles Redfern

Charles Redfern is a writer, activist, and clergyman living in Connecticut with his wife and family. He's currently writing two books, with more in his head.

View all posts by Charles Redfern


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