Crusaders

Joel Bleifuss

The Texas-based Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Baptist denomination and a fervent supporter of the war in Iraq, claims to have 25,000 trained evangelists ready to go to Iraq and spread the Gospel. “Here we have an army invading Iraq, followed by a bunch of people who want to convert everyone to Christianity. How’s that going to look in the Muslim world?” asked Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on Islamic-American Relations, in an interview with the Toronto Globe and Mail.Meanwhile, Muslim employees at the Pentagon failed in their attempt to get the Defense Department to withdraw an invitation to the Rev. Franklin Graham to lead Good Friday prayer services. Franklin is the son of Rev. Billy Graham, the man who helped lead George W. to Jesus. After 9/11, Franklin, who delivered the invocation at Bush’s inauguration, characterized Islam as “a very evil and wicked religion.”And then there’s Daniel Pipes, whom Bush has nominated to the U.S. Institute of Peace. In 1990, Pipes wrote in the National Review, “Western European societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene. … All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most.”

Joel Bleifuss, a former director of the Peace Studies Program at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is the editor & publisher of In These Times, where he has worked since October 1986.

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