On the Dying of Europe and the Questions We Cannot Fail To Ask

In this post I would like to ponder the apparent dying of Europe and what God might be teaching us. I would first like to present some information and then reflect as to what God might be teaching us.

We have pondered before on this blog that Christian Europe as we have known it is slowly dying away. The Pope has remarked that the lights are going out in Europe. The Christian faith has largely been forsaken by Europeans (only about 10% go to Mass and in many places over 60% describe themselves as atheists). Birth rates have plummeted to death-wish levels, and Europeans are slowly being replaced by Muslim immigrants who have a much higher birth rate. It is unlikely there will be any huge war that will usher in a Muslim Europe, just a slow and seemingly inexorable replacement as Europeans die out and Muslims from North Africa and other areas replace them.

There is already some evidence of Europe slowly giving way to its new identity as enclaves of Muslims become increasingly insistent on replacing European Law with Shariah based law and observance. Slowly these enclaves are growing. They have met some resistance to be sure, but their growth is undeniable. (See the map of France at the upper right. The darker shades of purple indicate a larger numbers of Muslim enclaves or “no-go” areas discussed below).

There is an increasingly common thing in European cities often referred to as  the “no-go zone or area.” They are Muslim sections of towns where the police, medical rescue crews, and other government agents will not venture. Some of these areas are “governed” by Muslim gangs. The areas are viewed as just too violent and/or risky to enforce laws. Other areas or zones have enacted Sharia Law, and community leaders enforce it. Local government officials are discouraged from, or no longer attempt to enter these “no-go zones” even to put out fires, enforce law or make infrastructure repairs for they are unwelcome and often meet with resistance and violence. In effect the no-go zones become a microstate.

In France no-go zones are referred to as Zones Urbaines Sensibles (Sensitive Urban Zones). Approximately 12 percent of all French in France live in a Sensitive Urban Zones. Many of the zones are governed under Islamic Sharia law and Islamic militants strongly resist any presence of the French police.

The rest of Europe is going down a similar path. England, for example,  is struggling with many immigrants who insist on living under non-English Law. All this means that political unity is threatened.  Europe, with a dying population and hostile minority groups, faces a bleak future. It seems clear that Europe is simply being replaced. [1, 2, 3, 4]

Now, to be sure, there are some who dispute this picture and insist it isn’t that bad. But, even if the seriousness of the current situation is disputed, the trajectory seems rather clear, and Europe’s future as increasingly Muslim is hard to deny.

It will surely be harder for the Church as well since religious tolerance is not widely appreciated in the Muslim world. Much will depend on how radical the brand of Islam that sets up will be. If Sharia is largely insisted upon and enforced things could get very difficult.

Sharia Law is the religious law of Islam. It comes from the Quran and also the known practices of the Prophet Muhammad. All Muslims believe that Sharia is God’s law but they have many different interpretations of it. It is not necessarily fair to simply condemn the wish for it outright since not all Muslims hold to or wish to see enforced its more odious components. Nevertheless, with Muslim extremism on the rise many rightly fear its wider imposition throughout Europe. Some of the more extreme tenets of Sharia include:

  1. Jihad, is defined as “to war against non-Muslims to establish the religion.” It is the duty of every Muslim and Muslim head of state (Caliph). Muslim Caliphs who refuse jihad are in violation of Sharia and unfit to rule.
  2. A Caliph (head of state) is exempt from being charged with serious crimes such as murder, adultery, robbery, theft, drinking and in some cases of rape.
  3. A caliph must be a Muslim, a non-slave and a male.
  4. A Muslim who leaves Islam must be killed immediately.
  5. A Muslim will be forgiven for murder of: 1) an apostate 2) an adulterer 3) a highway robber. Vigilante street justice and honor killing is acceptable.
  6. Sharia dictates death by stoning, beheading, amputation of limbs, flogging even for crimes of sin such as adultery.
  7. Non-Muslims are not equal to Muslims under the law. They must comply to Islamic law if they are to remain safe. They are forbidden to marry Muslim women….recite their scriptures or openly celebrate their religious holidays or funerals.
  8. A non-Muslim cannot inherit from a Muslim.
  9. Banks must be Sharia compliant and interest is not allowed.
  10. Homosexuality is punishable by death.
  11. There is no age limit for marriage of girls. The marriage contract can take place anytime after birth and can be consummated at age 8 or 9.
  12. Rebelliousness on the part of the wife nullifies the husband’s obligation to support her, gives him permission to beat her and keep her from leaving the home.
  13. Divorce is only in the hands of the husband.
  14. A man has the right to have up to 4 wives and none of them have a right to divorce him.
  15. The testimony of a woman in court is half the value of a man.
  16. To prove rape, a woman must have 4 male witnesses.
  17. A rapist may only be required to pay the bride-money (dowry) without marrying the rape victim.
  18. A Muslim woman must cover every inch of her body, which is considered “Awrah,” a sexual organ. Not all Sharia schools allow the face of a woman exposed.
  19. It is obligatory for a Muslim to lie if the purpose is abiding with Islam’s commandments, such as jihad, a Muslim is obliged to lie and should not have any feelings of guilt or shame associated with this kind of lying.
  20. The points are from Nonie Darwish in  “Cruel and Usual Punishment; The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law

Again, not every Muslim seeks to impose or enforce all of this. But, who is to say what will actually come to be when such a sweeping law is increasingly imposed in Europe? Who will limit the extremists? It is currently a very dangerous scenario that enclaves (no-go areas) are springing up on their own. Without any central authority or constitution to oversee the whole, “justice” comes down to what the local sheriff (er… Caliph) says.  No one can really say that the most extreme forms of Sharia will not become the law in the “wild west” that Europe may become.

Can’t happen here? In the United States, the dynamics are very different and Christians are not simply being replaced. However, there are already some attempts at insisting on Sharia zones in places like Baltimore, and Detroit. There are also increasing demands for “Sharia Compliant” banks, legal practices and the like. Yes, it may happen here but not likely in the way Europe is going. [5]

Some soul-searching. What must we learn?  – It is easy to lament where things may be headed. Indeed there are likely difficult days ahead. But we cannot miss the painful lesson that Europe shows forth, and to some extent America and the whole western world experiences.

First, Europe has lost the source of its strength. It simply does not pertain to strong, unified and cohesive cultures to simply be replaced. Obviously the West, especially Europe, has lost its strength. How has this happened? Europe’s fate was sealed long ago when the faith was largely abandoned and Europeans, as most of the West, set on a path of contracepting and aborting  themselves right out of existence.  Further, in the western world, as natural law and biblical morality have been largely set aside a cascade of deleterious effects have set in: Abortion, divorce, fornication, STDs, AIDS, teenage pregnancy, violence, broken families, poorly raised children, immodesty, pornography, sexual abuse, materialism, greed, individualism, relativism, egotism, and a whole plethora of crude, base and just plain bad behavior. All of this has dramatically weakened Western Culture.

Second, no culture can survive without something higher and outside itself to unite it. The word culture has at its root the word cultus. This is the Latin word for a religious system of beliefs and practices (and not the pejorative sense of “cult” that has come into English). Cultus is the totality of  religious practice and observance, the neglect of which is a very dangerous thing.

Clearly in the West, there has been a misguided experiment to see if we could take the “Cultus” out of Culture, and still have culture.  It is clear we cannot. Without a unifying set of beliefs and understandings that set forth our priorities, moral vision, and ultimate values and goals, we are doomed.

As God was kicked to the curb, first in the academy during the “enlightenment” and then by successive stages  in the wider populace, our fate was sealed. The center cannot hold without the cultus, which is the religious and transcendent basis of culture. A culture must have something outside and above it to knit it together.  The Lord says,

My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken Me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. Is Israel a slave by birth? Why then has he become plunder?… Have you not brought this on yourselves by forsaking the LORD your God when he led you in the way?  (Jer 2:13,14,17)

Here in America we have struggled in similar ways. We are still far more religious than Europe, but rampant secularism threatens us as does the setting aside of Biblical morality and Natural Law. We are on a path similar to Europe and very foolish to stay on it.

Tragic Loss – Europe does not even have the dignity of being conquered by an Army. At least then it could go down fighting. No indeed, it is simply fading away by a kind of suicidal death-wish. Despite years of warnings the birth rate continues to drop. The lights are indeed going out in Europe. And it is a tragic loss, for Europe has a great intellectual, artistic and cultural legacy. I cannot claim the mantle of prophet, but barring a miracle, Europe as we knew it is passing away.

The Question we cannot fail to ask – It is one thing to lament the possible coming of a tough, intolerant form of Sharia. It ought to be resisted. Religious Liberty is strongly threatened by a radical form of Islam which may ascend from Europe’s ashes. But we cannot fail to ask, How did we get here? What can we in America and the rest of the West learn? What is God saying to us?

I am not entirely sure I like the tone of this video. But it does help paint a picture of what is going on in France and Europe.

Burning the Quran is a Bad Idea and a Sin

It is a bad idea to burn the Quran, a book considered holy to over a billion people, and it’s a sin. Do I really need to say this to a fellow Christian? But Pastor Terry Jones wants to publicly burn copies of the Quran this Saturday, September 11. You can read more here: Pastor Wants to Burn Quran

I know he is trying to illustrate some important things. He is trying illustrate the western value of free speech, usually lacking in the Islamic world. He is trying to illustrate religious freedom here in the west and the lack of it in the Islamic world where Bibles have in fact been burned. He is trying to draw attention to the violent threats that have continued to emerge related to his plans.

Intentionally giving offense is wrong – I do not deny that there are problems in the Islamic world. But I also know that it is wrong to intentionally and grievously give offense to the religious traditions of others. Proper discussions, even debate about religious differences are healthy and part of evangelization. But ridicule and offensive practices directed against others is not of the Christian faith. Scripture says: Always be prepared to give an account to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that is in you. But do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).

Further, to tempt others to sin is wrong. It is a true fact that Pastor Jones’ plans have incited anger and threats. There are many in the Islamic World who have, in fact, a violent sense of their faith. Their view is morally wrong. But to needlessly incite that anger is also wrong. Knowing that there are violent tendencies in sectors of Islam, it is wrong to inflame those tendencies and draw others to anger and violence. In effect Pastor Jones is tempting others to sin. He may have a right to do this but it is not necessary for him to do this. This compounds the sinfulness of the planned book burning.

It is also wrong to endanger the lives of others by reckless behavior. It is a strong likelihood that hundreds, possibly thousands may die if rioting occurs. It is easy for us to say, “Well they shouldn’t get so worked up about it….see the problem is theirs.”  That is a debate for another time. But this action is sure to inflame passions. General David Petraeus has warned that our troops will also be endangered by these reckless plans. He has urged Jones to back down. Pastor Jones says he will “pray about it.”

Pastor Terry Jones is gravely misled if he thinks Jesus might tell him to do this. Jesus had a different notion: You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (Matt 5:43-47)

We need to have an on-going discussion with the Islamic world about religious freedom and about the violence in growing sectors of Islam. But buring the Quran, a book they consider sacred, is no way to further such a discussion.

I’d like to know what you think of this. I hope all of us will be careful in this discussion to make necessary distinctions and maintain a respectful discourse. Issues such as this inflame passions. Further, it is helpful to see this issue not merely as a referendum on Islam. There are areas for appropriate concern when it comes to Isalm and how it interacts with the non-Islamic world. But a primary issue for us here should also be, is what Terry Jones plans to do what a Christian ought to do?