Romans 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Engaging in Unacceptable Behavior

Starting in October of last year, the Home Office of the United Kingdom has maintained a list of 22 people who are banned from entering the country. The BBC has released a list of 16 of them.

There are some interesting things to note about the list. First is the way the report chose to describe four militant Muslim clerics. No longer are they identified as “mullahs” or “clerics”. Calling them “extremists” or “terrorists” is out of the question. Now, it seems that they are called “preachers”. A man named Safwat Hijazi is named as being part of the hateful tribe called “television preacher”.

Key words used repeatedly to justify exclusion are “engaging in unacceptable behaviour”, “seeking to foment”, “justifying”, “provoking” and “fostering hatred”. Although I find his actions deplorable, I was surprised to find Fred Phelps, pastor of Westboro Baptist Church in Topika, Kansas, on the list. The BBC report states that he and his daughter are “barred for their anti-gay comments” and “engaging in unacceptable behaviour by fostering hatred that might lead to inter-community violence in the UK.”

Another surprise on the list was an American “shock-jock”. Michael Savage is banned because he fosters “hatred which might lead to inter-community violence.”

I find this report disturbing due to the conclusions I draw from it. The English language is being changed right in front of us. A few years ago, an attempt was made to classify Muslim terrorists as fundamentalist extremists. That was largely successful. Now, men like Phelps can be grouped in the same category as them. That might not be such a bad comparison except for the fact that all Fundamentalists and Fundamentalist institutions are lumped in with him under the same descriptor—including Bob Jones, Pensacola Christian College, even Jerry Falwell and Liberty University. The language has morphed to the point where the same adjective is used to describe Jerry Falwell and bin-Laden. Now, the language change is expanding. Not only are all “fundamentalists” lumped together, all “preachers” are lumped together. As this change becomes more mainstream, anyone who “provokes others” from behind a pulpit could be considered to be “engaging in unacceptable behaviour”.

I don’t mean to sound alarmist, but these are truly alarming times we live in.

2 Chronicles 7:14


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