Georgetown’s Catholic Apologist for Islam

A non-Muslim activist lawyer has filed charges of discrimination against the Catholic University of America with the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (OHR). The university is discriminating against Muslim students, he contends, by “forcing” them to conduct Islamic prayer services in rooms filled with crucifixes and other symbols of the Catholic faith. The subtext of his complaint is that it should be incumbent upon a Catholic university to deny its own identity by creating areas where no sign of Christianity is present; as egregious as that is, however, a far more serious assault on the Catholic identity of a Catholic university is going on across town at Georgetown. There, at the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU), the problem is not only acute but chronic.

Faithful Catholic students have long known to steer clear of Georgetown’s offerings on Islam and the Middle East in general, as they’re highly politicized and tend to demonize Christians and Christianity, as well as the United States and the West. Meanwhile, the theology department has been widely criticized for its doubtful orthodoxy. In an interview for Choosing the Right College (also edited by Crisis editor Dr. John Zmirak), one student summed up the problem when he said of most members of the theology faculty: “It’s not just that they’re not clearly Catholic. You really haven’t a clue if they’re even Christian.” These two problems – purveying a radical, anti-Christian, anti-American political line in Middle East and Islamic studies classes, and flouting Catholic orthodoxy – coalesce into one at the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center.

Founded in 1993 as the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, the center changed its name in December 2005, when the Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal gave it $20 million. Prince Alwaleed first came to the attention of Americans right after the 9/11 attacks, when he gave a $10 million check to New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, while condemning “all forms of terrorism” and calling on the U.S. to “re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause.” Giuliani saw this as implying that American policies were responsible for 9/11, and indignantly returned Alwaleed’s check.

The Saudi billionaire found news mogul Rupert Murdoch more compliant in November 2005, when rioters shouting “Allahu akbar!” (“God is great!”) were burning churches and synagogues all over France but scrupulously avoiding mosques. Alwaleed noticed that Fox News, alone among American news outlets, was calling the unrest “Muslim riots.” The Prince recalled with particular satisfaction what happened next: “I picked up the phone and called Murdoch… (and told him) these are not Muslim riots, these are riots out of poverty. Within 30 minutes, the title was changed from Muslim riots to civil riots.”

At Fox, Alwaleed has Murdoch; at Georgetown, he has John L. Esposito. Esposito is the director of the ACMCU, a professor of religion and international affairs at Georgetown, and one of the most prominent scholars of Islam and the Middle East in the nation; the Wall Street Journal once hailed him as “America’s foremost authority and interpreter of Islam.” He is the author of numerous popular books on Islam, and, according to the Investigative Project on Terrorism, has been “called upon often to brief government agencies about Islam, including the State Department, FBI, CIA, Homeland Security and various branches of the military.”

Esposito reportedly spent ten years in a monastery, is still identified as a Catholic, and is frequently invited to address Catholic audiences. However, emblematic of the doubtful orthodoxy, or even of the doubtful Christianity, of the perspective he brings to the Alwaleed Center was an extraordinarily curious remark he made shortly after September 11, 2001: Esposito said that he was “pleasantly surprised” that after the attacks the rate of conversions to Islam in America had not fallen off, but had actually increased.

The Second Vatican Council states “the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims: these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day” (Lumen Gentium, 16). It also says that “the Church has also a high regard for the Muslims” and calls upon Muslims and Christians to make “a sincere effort” to “achieve mutual understanding” (Nostra Aetate, 3). It does not exempt Muslims from the Church’s duty to preach the Gospel to all nations (Matthew 28:19-20) and to “proclaim without fail, Christ who is the way, the truth and the life” (Nostra Aetate, 2). The call to hold individual Muslims in “high regard” does not conceivably justify encouraging or taking pleasure in conversions to Islam, even for liberal Catholic academics.

While cheering conversions to Islam, Esposito has downplayed persecution of Christians in Muslim countries. Journalist Cinnamon Stillwell reports that when speaking in Stanford in 2008, Esposito did not welcome questions about that persecution: “When asked about the well-documented violence against Christians in Iraq and the persecution of Christians throughout the Muslim world, Esposito resorted at first to obfuscation and then bullying. After trying to chalk up the violence merely to ‘primitive’ behavior, he cut off one young woman angrily, telling her that it was ‘an absurd question.’” Esposito, according to Stillwell, claimed that “all religions produce violence,” and offered up “a litany of talking points in which he compared random and universally condemned acts of violence among Christians and Jews to the routine and often sanctioned bloodshed emanating from the Muslim world.”

During his Stanford talk Esposito displayed a deep hostility toward Christianity: “He referenced the Crusades three times in the first ten minutes, each in the false context of acts of purely Christian aggression. In a relativistic attempt to paint all religions as equally problematic, Esposito compared Islamic terrorists to ‘Christian militants,’ and referred repeatedly to ‘Christians blowing up abortion clinics’ and the ‘Christian Right.’” He didn’t mention that the handful of abortion clinic bombers were universally condemned by all Christian authorities, while the thousands of Islamic jihadists who have perpetrated attacks worldwide in the name of Islam since 9/11 generally enjoy the blessing of Muslim clerics.

Esposito generally tends to blame Christians for friction between Muslims and Christians. In his 2002 book What Everybody Needs to Know about Islam (Oxford University Press), he acknowledges that “Muslim-Christian relations have deteriorated,” and lays the responsibility for that deterioration squarely at the feet of Evangelical Christian leaders in the U.S. – and Jews: “The creation of the state of Israel has contributed to the deterioration of relations and the Christian fundamentalists like Robertson, Graham and Falwell have been the source of intolerance, persecution, violence and terrorism.”

Meanwhile, Esposito has praised one of the most notable of those clerics who exhort their people to violence. He has called Muslim Brotherhood Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who advocates suicide bombings, a champion of a “reformist interpretation of Islam and its relationship to democracy, pluralism and human rights.” An indication of Qaradawi’s firm commitment to “democracy, pluralism and human rights” came in January 2009, when during a Friday sermon broadcast on Al-Jazeera, he prayed that Allah would kill all the Jews: “Oh Allah, take this oppressive, Jewish, Zionist band of people. Oh Allah, do not spare a single one of them. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one.” He also declared: “Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by [Adolf] Hitler.”

To be sure, Esposito’s endorsement of Qaradawi may have been based on incomplete knowledge, although Qaradawi has made his positions abundantly clear in over a hundred books and an enormously popular television show on Al-Jazeera. The same cannot be said, however, of Esposito’s association with the unsavory Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which he has called a “phenomenal organization.” Esposito has spoken at CAIR fundraisers in order, he explained, to “show solidarity not only with the Holy Land Fund [that is, the Holy Land Foundation], but also with CAIR.” The Holy Land Foundation was shut down and prosecuted for funneling money to the jihad terror group Hamas, which once boasted on its website about its murders of civilians in pizza parlors and on buses; the Justice Department named CAIR an unindicted co-conspirator in the case.

CAIR operatives have repeatedly refused to denounce Hamas and Hizballah as terrorist groups. (Esposito himself also refuses to condemn Hamas, as the Investigative Project notes: “In a 2000 interview in The United Association for Studies and Research’s (UASR) Middle East Affairs Journal, Esposito refused to condemn Hamas, which at the time was already designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the U.S. State Department.”) Several former CAIR officials have been convicted of various crimes related to jihad terror. CAIR cofounder and longtime Board chairman Omar Ahmad was reported as saying in 1998 that “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth.” CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper has said: “I wouldn’t want to create the impression that I wouldn’t like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future.”

CAIR is a spinoff of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), which is listed in the 1991 Muslim Brotherhood memorandum on strategy in the U.S. as part of its “grand jihad” aimed at “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within.” The IAP was itself later shut down for being a Hamas front.

The unsavory associations multiply. Esposito has also co-edited a book, Islam and Secularism in the Middle East, with Azzam Tamimi. Palestinian political scientist Muhammad Muslih calls Tamimi “a Hamas member.” Tamimi has said: “I admire the Taliban; they are courageous,” and “I support Hamas.” When University of South Florida computer science professor Sami al-Arian was accused of involvement with the leadership of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which has claimed responsibility for the murders of several civilians, he became a cause célèbre, with his defenders ascribing his prosecution to “Islamophobia.” Esposito rushed to his defense, avowing: “Sami Al-Arian’s a very good friend of mine.” In 2008, Esposito advocated for al-Arian’s release, saying:

Sami Al-Arian is a proud, dedicated and committed American as well as a proud and committed Palestinian. He is an extraordinarily bright, articulate scholar and intellectual-activist, a man of conscience with a strong commitment to peace and social justice.

Al-Arian later pled guilty to “conspiring to provide services to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a specially designated terrorist organization, in violation of U.S. law.” He is under house arrest. Al-Arian also, according to Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA), has “longstanding connections to associates of al Qaeda.” Wolf quotes a federal affidavit noting that “‘Sheik Rahman (the ‘Blind Sheik’) visited Al-Arian at his residence in Tampa and spoke at his mosque.’ Rahman is currently serving a life sentence in U.S. prison for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center attack and additional terror plots.”

Also associated with the Blind Sheik is the man Esposito calls “my old friend Siraj”: the popular Muslim speaker Siraj Wahhaj. Wahhaj was designated a “potential unindicted co-conspirator” in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing for taking the Blind Sheik to speak at mosques in New York and New Jersey in the early 1990s. Wahhaj has warned that the United States will fall unless it “accepts the Islamic agenda.” He has also asserted that “if only Muslims were clever politically, they could take over the United States and replace its constitutional government with a caliphate.”

While numbering among his “friends” unapologetic Islamic supremacists and abettors of terrorism, Esposito demonizes those who have sounded the alarm about Islamic jihad activity. He has called Bernard Lewis, perhaps the leading scholar of Islam in the West, “one of the Darth Vaders of the world” for daring to suggest that Islam needed reform. On another occasion he referred to Lewis and critics of Islamic jihad activity including Daniel Pipes, Steve Emerson, and Martin Kramer, as a “legion of devils.” He has also attacked Fouad Ajami and V.S. Naipaul, among others, for not sharing his warmly positive view of Islamic supremacism and jihad.

Esposito’s close ties to Islamic supremacists and jihadists, and repeated defenses and whitewashes of their ideology, which increasingly victimizes Christians around the world, is a blot on Georgetown’s record. CUA may take a crucifix out of one room to placate its Muslim students; however, by employing Esposito for so many years and according him such prestige, Georgetown has done far more immense and lasting damage to its Catholic identity. The Christians in Egypt, Pakistan, and Indonesia who face increasingly virulent Muslim persecution deserve better from one of the nation’s foremost Catholic universities than the showcasing of the premier Roman Catholic apologist for Islamic jihad.


For more on these issues, check out the debate between Mr. Spencer and Prof. Peter Kreeft of Boston College on the topic: “Is the Only Good Muslim a Bad Muslim?”


Robert Spencer is the author of several critically acclaimed books about Islam, including the New York Times bestsellers The Truth about Muhammad and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). He is a columnist for FrontPage Magazine and the director of Jihad Watch.

  • W.

    Only Popes could solve problems this big because canon law gives them power that is “supreme” and “immediate” “over all the churches”.
    But at some point in the past 50 years, Popes put administration and the use of supreme power second…second to writing books and addressing and meeting with this group or that group. They feel that Protestants are more likely to return under laid back Popes
    ( administratively speaking). And they were right in some mass conversion cases. But it means chaos at the university level when Popes don’t pope….when Bishops fail in their diocese.
    When a Pope comes along who actually loves managing…loves it from dawn to dusk then schools will be purged. Until that day, these things will continue. That is my prediction.

    • Michael PS

      We tried that for the best part of three hundred years.

      From Sixtus V, who died in 1590, to Leo XIII, who was elected in 1878, we had a virtually unbroken succession of popes, who had risen through the ranks of the Vatican bureaucracy and who were, by habit, taste and training, administrators. Even Benedict XIV, better remembered today as Prospero Lambertini, the great canon lawyer, fits this mould.

      It is not unfair to describe the result as one of assiduous mediocrity. Even in Catholic countries, the popes had the same impact and the same popular appeal, as the average Secretary-General of the United Nations or President of the World Bank. Pio Nono was popular because he was pitied.

      Meanwhile, we had the Church riven by the Thirty Years War, the Quietist controversy, the Jansenist heresy, the Gallican controversy, Josephism, the suppression of the Jesuits, the French Revolution and its aftermath, and the Risorgimento, in none of which can the Holy See be said to have distinguished itself.

  • Tom

    .. not big fan of Murdoch’s empire but to imply that FOX is pro Islamic is joke. Although I must agree, it is nauseating when “I-know-it-all-because-I-am-a-pudgy-rosy-cheeked-upper-middle-class-New-England-raised-Anglo-anti-Christian-liberal” embraces most extreme Islamic fanatics. When Israel tries to legitimately defend its borders, they are up in arms. But just look at the recent massacre of Christians in Egypt, crushed by US made armored personnel carriers. Not a word not even from our own brave government.
    But like the other article in Crisis on Stalin says, we have to be careful not to demonize “the other” (e.g. all Muslims, even if a plurality seems off the deep end). Establishing a franc dialogue between Catholics with solid footing and non-fanatic Muslims will be crucial in the coming years especially in places like Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Europe and the US. If Islam can be freely worshiped in the US, the same should be true for over 1 million Christians workers in Saudi Arabia, that have no access to places of worships. Copts should be allowed to build churches without undue restrictions, etc… A serious examination of the Iraq war from a Catholic point of view could also help with the dialogue.

  • digdigby

    Islam is at war with the ENTIRE world. Literally. There is simply no such thing as ‘radical Islam’. Georgetown University is not ‘Catholic’ it is a Saudi harem, a glorified intellectual whorehouse.

  • Tom

    “Islam is at war with the ENTIRE world. ”
    The On That Knows has spoken. Take off your Halloween costume.

  • W.

    There are moderate muslims in our army fighting for the US in Afghanistan at the risk of having their legs blown off everyday.
    Do some research on “abrogation” in Koranic interpretation. Radical Islam sees peaceful passages and tolerant passages in the Koran as being void…as being abrogated by Koran 9:5…a very violent passage (Kill the disbelievers wherever you find them) because it is dated late in Muhammed’s life. That late date tells them it voids the earlier peaceful passages.
    Moderate muslims like the ones in our army disagree that verse 9:5 is an abrogation. They believe it is a command only within a certain war at that time in history and is not a general directive of life. Therefore they believe in the peaceful passages as the general ethic.
    Research “abrogation or naskh Koran”. Muslims are getting killed for me and you against radical Islam. Don’t lump them with those shooting at them.

    • digdigby

      I have lived all over the Mid-east and I assure you there is NOT such a thing as ‘moderate Islam’. Anyone who ‘moderates’ the Message is an apostate and an infidel.
      You can find some Muslims who will say any damned thing you want them to say. As Groucho says “Who you gonna believe? Your eyes or me.” I see. I see Islam every day and it is monstruous, worldwide and intrinsically barbaric. It is a heresy of Christianity that has replaced peace and charity with violence on earth as the highest good and the reward of an eternal whorehouse in the sky. That, my friend is Satanic. By the way, Muslims make the best Christians and it is my own personal belief that if the West is lucky WE will be saved by them.

      • W.

        Read Proverbs 27:22….it is about each of us in certain areas….
        “Though you grind a fool in a mortar, grinding him like grain with a pestle, you will not remove his folly from him.”

        • digdigby

          I must confess that you DO amuse me. Rather than a simple ad hominem attack you drag Proverbs into it! Why don’t you just say, “digdigby, you are an idiot” rather than make the Bible say it?
          Oh, the folly of me not ‘respecting Islam!’ All I need to know about Islam I learned on 9/11.

  • Pammie

    PJ Buchanan writes about this differently. He sees this in terms of a civil rights lawyer who has also filed charges of discrimination on the same school for having single sex dorm rooms. He notes that there were no muslim complaints precipitating the legal action. While it must be great sport to see a muslim behind the door of every bad thing, sometimes there just isnt one.

    • John Zmirak

      We linked to PJB’s article. But there’s nothing in this one that is contradicted there. This piece noted that it was a non-Muslim activist lawyer at work at CUA.

  • Howard Kainz

    As I argued in an earlier article in CrisisMagazine, “When Religion Gets Violent,” there is a major difference between Islam and Christianity regarding violence. In the New Testament, there is not one passage justifying violence against non-Christians, while Muslims can find multiple licenses to kill in their holy books. I personally wonder if the experts at Vatican II who made the conciliatory statements were really familiar with Islam

  • Michael PS

    In France, where I spend a lot of time, many Muslims, and especially Muslim women, are manifesting their confidence in the Republic and proclaiming their adherence to its values.

    The president of the Muslim women’s movement Ni Putes Ni Soumises (Neither Sluts nor Door-mats) Sihen Habchi, in a forceful attack on “multiculturalism” has demanded “No more justifications of our oppression in the name of the right to be different and of respect toward those who force us to bow our heads”

    Rachida Dati, herself a Muslim and former French Minister of Justice told the National Assembly that
    “The Republic is alone capable of uniting men and women of different origins, colours and religions around the principles of tolerance, liberty, solidarity and laïcité, making the Republic truly one and indivisible.”

    Likewise, Fadela Amara, another Muslim and Secretary of State for Urban Policies has declared that “For this generation, the crucial issues are laïcité, gender equality and gender desegregation, based upon living together in harmony throughout the world, and not only in France.”

    Nor are these lonely or isolated voices.

  • Thomas Kurian

    I an taken aback by the second Vatican council statements .. Are they serious? DO they think muslims also worship the real God? wow !

    Is Allah = Jesus? Allahu= God? Lets examine this:

    Islamic Jesus :

    Was born under a palm tree
    Started speaking as soon as he was born
    Urged his mother to lie and deceive people
    Is NOT God or Son of God
    Is just a mere man like you and me
    Did NOT die on the cross but RAN AWAY from the cross and deceived the whole world by putting some other person in his place and obviously did not ressurect. This, the very corner stone of our salvation, is being denied.
    Islamic Jesus will ‘Kill the pig and break the cross” at the end of the world meaning he would destroy his church and his followers !
    Will fight and destroy all non-muslims and will die 40 years after his second coming
    Is Slave of Allah the muslim god.

    How can this be The Lord and God? Jesus Himself has warned about false prophets who would come after Him and in His name and that these false prophets would have a good following. Jesus taught us how to identify false prophets – By their deeds. The old testament says that God would confirm the prophets He sends by performing miracles and prophesies through them.

    Lets examin the deeds of Mohammed – the prophet of islam.


    NEVER predicted anything and could not perform any miracles or signs
    RAPED 6 year old Aiysha when he was 56 years old. he called it marriage. To this day official marriage age for girls in islamic countries is 6 or 9.
    RAPED Sofia the same day he had beheaded her father, brother and husband. Again this was called ‘marriage’.
    Had sex with his own son’s wife and called it Allah’s will
    Kept sex slaves – Especially Maria the copt who decided to stay a slave than denounce her Christian faith
    Routinely killed Jews and Christians. In one instance he beheaded 800 jews in one day
    Looted Jewish caravans
    Had 30+ wives
    Promised 72 virgins for any one who kills non-muslims and is murdered in the process

    Many many more but this should be enough for any sane person to decide what kind of prophet Mohammed was and what kind of religion Islam is.

  • digdigby

    Thomas Kurian-
    Every single thing you mentioned is absolutely true and undeniable and can be affirmed easily on mainline ISLAMIC websites. You forgot one key item – Muhammad gave his followers permission to lie to non-Muslims and made it even incumbent upon them to lie in order to conquer the earth for Islam. The openly and vigorously stated goal of Islam is to make the entire earth Islamic and do away with all error (i.e. any other religion). This is not ‘radical’ islam. This is I-S-L-A-M.

  • Tom

    So do Mormons,Christians, etc..
    This is a characteristic of most major religions: conversion of others.
    I also know quite a few Muslims (in the US, and when I worked in Africa). And, no, as individuals, they are like any one else, very family oriented and friendly.
    So what do you propose?
    Another “Iraq” solution, bombing a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 fanatics? Like that works.
    The first thing is cleaning our own mess, but also insisting on equal treatment in the middle east, something our current government is ignoring (..what do you expect from Ms enlightened Hilary?).
    Getting to know them better, and letting them know better our own Faith could help.
    I know that Muslims share a lot of our right for life values.
    In some battles, they may be our best allies.

    • Tom

      ..correction, I do not consider Mormons as a majore religion

    • Thomas Kurian


      I am talking about Islam. There are many muslims who are born in that faith without knowing what it is. The moment they become religious and start following koran they go berseck. I know because I come from one such country and have lived all over middle east and far east.

      Islam CANNOT be compared to any other religion – What other religion has a command to convert or kill? To rape children?

      They do not hate us because of our policies. Why did they hate us in the 6th century? Do you know what America’s first war was? Against muslims and our president at that time (think jefferson) asked muslim ambassador,abdullah, in UK “Why do you hate us?”. He was a honest muslim and said “Because the koran commands us to do so”.

      Befriending Islam and muslims is like feeding a crocodile hoping he would eat you last …


    Let us stop this pretense that Georgetowne or for that case Notre Dame are Roman Catholic institutions. They are part of the powerful American Democrat Catholic Church which was founded on the teachings of Franklin Roosevelt and Ted Kennedy. To the American Democrat Catholic the purpose of religion is to insure the election of a democrat majority in the New American State government. O tempora! O mores!

    • Johann, I couldn’t agree more. A lot of Catholic institutions no longer require even a class in theology, and ND has so compromised its identity that I think they should change the name to University of South Bend. Thank God for people like Robert Spencer, and the editors of this magazine, who are not afraid to speak the truth.

  • c matt

    To say there are moderate muslims is no different than saying there are catholics who dissent from church teaching. So what? Sure there are muslims who are peaceful, etc. But do some simple math (heck, it’s just 3rd grade arithmatic). If there are 1 billion muslims, and (to be conservative) only 10% are “radical,” that’s 100,000,000+ or so that are not peacful that we need to worry about, and that is plenty.

  • Mary

    All Muslims are required to support jihad or be killed as apostate, there are just different ways to support jihad. Some Muslims quietly support jihad financially or passively (i.e., not calling the police or testifying against other Muslims when they commit a jihad crime such as murder or plunder of non-Muslims). Mohammad’s doctrine of taysir ONLY lifts the requirement to enforce Sharia law (enforcement of Islamic principles) when there are not enough Muslims/Muslims in power to enforce it. That means that, when possible, Sharia law enforcement is required by Islam. That defines “moderate” “peaceful” Muslims as merely passive.

    When taysir is lifted, ALL Muslims are required to support Sharia enforcement or be killed as apostate. Those trapped in Islam against their will who refuse to support Sharia risk being killed as apostate from Islam themselves. It is a gamble to count on the majority of Muslims risking their lives and their families’ lives to rebel against Islam and not enforce Sharia. Sharia law claims worldwide jurisdiction, on Muslims and non-Muslims alike, because Mohammad declared enforcement of Islam to be Mohammad’s Allah’s “divine” law. And, Mohammad interprets the Qur’an by his actions/sayings in the Haddith and Sira, not the U.S. Government or Liberal elitists or Christian clergy.

    BTW: Several Popes have condemned Modernism, which which all religious are deemed the same and of human origin, and the Crusades were defensive wars against Muslim conquest much like the genocidal jihad in Africa today.

  • Graham Combs

    I’ve had Catholics tell me I”m “too extreme” in my pro-life views; I’ve had Catholics tell me that I shouldn’t call myself a “Catholic” (I’m a convert); well, I could go on. It is what it is. I have my own blind spots. But it is sometimes discouraging. A Detroit News columnist profiling a retiring English teacher at a local Catholic high school managed to spend the day with him and apparently neither Christ nor the word “Catholic” came up in conversation. Although Eric Foner did. When I think of the Church’s 2,000 year history I can’t help but recall that joke from Mel Brooks’ 2,000 year old man routine, “ten thousand grand children and not one of them calls.” No wonder Catholics sometimes feel adrift in a sea of accommodation. For the other guy.

  • Tom

    As a middle of the road Catholic, I beg to disagree.
    I am not a Koran scholar, but I know that there are several versions and translations, and a same passage could be read as more or less “fanatic”, depending on the version. There are things in the Bible that are not exactly about peace (Luke 12 49-53).
    Without letting go one iota of my Catholicism, I had interactions with Muslims that helped me become a better Catholic. Below are some examples:
    1) During a difficult mission in the middle of Africa, my driver, who was Muslim, gave me encouraging words at a critical time. He knew I was Christian. He did not have to do this. He was away from his family, and was very faithful to them.
    2) The wonderful Muslim film, “Colors of paradise”, examines from the point of view of blind orphan, the beauty of God’s creation.
    3) Seeing a person unroll a mat at noon, put it on the floor in the middle of the busy Cairo train station, and pray.
    We could perhaps learn from Muslims how take prayer seriously, not this 20th century modernistic blah, blah, blah, that “anything can be prayer”, that just came out in the Vatican guide for spiritual direction. Perhaps if we all spend more humble, real kneeling time praying, things would be better. Perhaps we could learn from them to stand up and say no, when our sacred images are desecrated (perhaps not by throwing bombs or with death threats, grant you, but as slander and libel).
    Judging “the other” with our own brand of knee jerk, foam at the mouth stone throwing, will make us reap what we sow: more fanaticism.

  • Pammie

    As I read through the comments it comes to mind: What exactly are we to do with the information that Mr. Spenser and the likeminded so thoughtfully have provided us with on this subject?

    Should we put out a “For Sale” sign if a Muslim family moves next door? Forbid association between our respective children? Ask for another table or seat if we find ourselves next to them at a cafe or on an airplane? What exactly is one to DO with this kind of information? For what purpose is it provided?

    Unlike a previous commentor, my considerable time spent in the ME has always been (with a few notable exceptions) pleasant and rewarding, I never lived in a compound for foreign workers except once and the foreigners included muslims from other countries so I have never been segregated from the muslim community at large. No one ever tried to do me a harm except to cheat me in the souk occasionally which I think even Mr. Spenser might agree is not a practice exclusive to musims.

    • Mrs. F

      We get on our knees with our rosaries, daily, and pray for the conversion of Islam. Then start at the beginning again with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

      • Pammie

        ummm.. I assumed that was a given, along with jews, hindus, buddhists, atheists and agnostics.
        Let’s not forget these folks, all loved by our Lord.

  • Mark

    There’s not enough Irish Spring in the world to clean the blood stains out of the Arab Spring.

  • Tony Wawrzynski


    Perhaps you should not over-generalize from your own life’s experiences. There has been quite a history of Islam’s interaction with other religions and cultures. Much of it has been pretty ugly. That history, perhaps, has a bit more to tell us than anecdotal evidence (which I don’t doubt) about good personal relations with individual Muslims.

    While I don’t necessarily agree with many of foreign policy prescriptions of Mr. Spencer and – heaven help us, Daniel Pipes – the track record of Islam is undeniably dismal. The right policy mix is the one advocated Serge Trifkovic – stop aggravating them in their own backyard and keep them out of the West

    • Pammie

      Mr. Wawrzyski I would never conclude that because of my 35 + years association in the ME that all Muslims are good, Allah- fearing people who would NEVER hurt a fly….especially a Christian fly nowadays. It’s a big world out there. But I also know as surely that the majority of Muslims are not bomb throwing terrorists or have world conquest on their minds. If they were, chances are we wouldnt be having this conversation, as they make up quite a large segment of mankind.

      I am very gratified to know that you think the solution is to “stop aggravating them in their own back yard”. I agree. And I do think the US should close it’s borders to everyone until we can assimilate the people we have now , however long that should take. Plus the government is NSF financially. What other sane place continues to let people in ( people who need jobs) when their own citizens cant find any? That would be….countries in the west… countries in the grip of madness.

  • Tom

    ” Serge Trifkovic – stop aggravating them in their own backyard and keep them out of the West ”

    1) “stop aggravating them in their own” sure that is the first step. You can not expect to make any inroads by doing an Iraq, or allowing an un-educated, dilettante, foreign neocon upstart coin irresponsible statements like “Axis of Evil” and make it into national policy.
    2) “keep them out of the West” This exclusivist attitude should never be allowed. The West is an opened society, that is it’s nature and its strength. This openness has a Christian basis. And personally, between a moderate, pro-family Muslim from the Middle East and a liberal New England “Atheist” know-it-all college liberal pro-abort pink cheeked Anglo, I will choose the Muslim. “keep them out’ is more often “keep them brown skinned foreigners out” in disguise. But this openness can be leveraged for ..
    1) reciprocity in Faith practices. We should not abandon Christians in the Middle East. Especially now. We Christians in the West need to be more assertive. Sure, by all means, in our society a Muslim student should be able to go to a Catholic University and pray his prayer in an area that does not have too much symbols from other religions than theirs. Sure. Absolutely. But this should apply to Muslim countries as well. Any Christian should be able to go to his Church, without risking it being burned to the ground, or be crushed by tanks, or be stoned. And we should challenge Muslim leaders in the West not to tacitly condone this, with their ambivalent silence. We should pressure our government not to play politics at the expense of Middle East Christians, which is clearly the current administration’s game plan. Our government should be speaking out for the protection of Christians in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.

    This will be achieved through frank, but firm dialogue. If would help if
    a) our Church leaders had a real pair to clean up the mess they created, but they don’t (we will have to wait for a new generation). Its really hard to sound serious when many of our religious leaders stand for “protect the unborn and the clergy that take “up skirt” pictures when they grow up a little.” Or “listen up, as we invoke our self-defined “radical” “holy magic’ [TM] that we invent as we go, instead of sticking to the Truth that was handed down 2000 years go.”
    b) how can Muslims respect us Christians in the West, when we allow idiots in the secular media, or “great artists that freely express themselves’ just drive all over us, and that is ok. But, Atheist-Void forbid, try making a joke about one of their pet causes.
    Speaking of one of these artists who did blasphemous sculptures (Martin Kippenberger), a few days ago cleaning lady in a museum Germany thought that one of his sculptures had a dirty stain and cleaned it. It turns out that it was part of the sculpture, and she ruined the $1million installation. There is some justice in this world.,,15510231,00.html

    • Pammie

      Tom I can agree with a few of your points and one or two, I cannot. I dont have a clue as to what you mean about “radical holy magic (TM) “.

      Thanks for the laugh about the “sculptures” though…it made my day.