Ugandan archbishop: Militant Islam is century’s key challenge
NEW YORK (BP)--Much of the church is asleep or in “deep, dark denial” about Islam, Anglican Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi of Uganda said in New York City at the Kairos Journal Award dinner Jan. 26.
Orombi, named one of World magazine’s “Daniels of the Year” for 2006, has been at the forefront of the Anglican church’s controversy over the open acceptance and ordination of homosexual ministers, is one of Africa’s leading voices for biblical fidelity. He and Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria are under fire from European church leaders for offering assistance to Episcopal churches in the United States that have broken with the worldwide Anglican Communion since the consecration of openly homosexual New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson in 2003.
“The church’s one foundation has been torn asunder by heresy and distress,” Orombi said. “Since the beginning, the church has faced attacks from within and attacks from outside. This is nothing new.”
The inner attack on the church is the shifting of authority away from the Bible toward a “false gospel,” Orombi said. But from without, he said, the church’s most significant threat is Islam.
“As I look forward into the 21st century, it seems to me the great global conflict will be between Christianity and Islam,” the Ugandan leader said. “In the seventh and eighth centuries, the churches of North Africa and the Middle East did not acknowledge the theological and social economy and political traits of Islam and they were overrun. We must learn from those who have gone before us. Their blood cries out to us. Let them not have died in vain.”
Orombi said the global conquest of Islam is disguised in “subtle political maneuvers” like those that resulted in the conviction of Daniel Scot in Australia. The Assemblies of God pastor was indicted and convicted for “vilifying” Islam in 2002. Scot’s conviction began a four-year legal battle which ultimately resulted in the conviction being reversed, when the Supreme Court of Victoria ruled that Scot was offering fellow Christians insight into what the Koran said about salvation. His acquittal, however, came at a cost of nearly $500,000 in legal fees.
Scot received this year’s Kairos Journal Award, given annually by the journal and its founder Emmanuel Kampouris, former CEO of American Standard, to a pastor who displays courage and biblical fidelity, often in the face of persecution.
Orombi also said that in Uganda, Muslims are attempting to conquer “not so much by the sword but by the dollar.” There, Libyan dictator Muammar Gadafi built a national mosque as a “gift” to the people. Newly discovered oil resources in Uganda are finding their way into Muslim hands, and Muslim financiers are pouring money into the country -- despite the fact that only 12 percent of Uganda’s population is Muslim. Muslims also are offering vocal opposition to laws that protect women’s rights because, Orombi said, “these are not in the Koran.”
“At the same time, the church is generally ignorant about Islam, its doctrine, its ideology and its expansionist strategy, the Anglican leader said. Most churches have no plan or vision about reaching Muslims and even shy away from evangelism out of fear and the prospect of retaliatory violence.”
Orombi said Christian businessmen should make investments in Uganda and other “global south” countries where Islam is making gains in an effort to develop a countermeasure against it. But this will make little difference, he said, if there is no faithful proclamation of the Gospel first.
Mark Durie, vicar of St. Mary’s Anglican Church, Caulfield, in Melbourne, Australia, echoed that sentiment. Failure to address Islam with the Gospel will result in falling prey to it. At present, he said, the future of the world is less than certain.
“The religious future of India is up for grabs as the Dalits, the lower class, leave Hinduism. China has 90-100 million Christians. Will it be the next great Christian superpower at the end of the 21st century? Europe is gradually sinking under immigration. One in three babies born in France today is Muslim. Will France be a Sharia state with a nuclear bomb in this century?
“The 20th century was the century of humanism or humanistic ideologies, some of them quite perverse, whether it was fascism of different kinds or communism,” Durie said, noting, “I believe the capacity of those ideologies to shape the world is petering out.”
The century ahead, Durie predicted, will be a “century of faith.”
Baroness Caroline Cox, a conservative member of Britain’s House of Lords who has worked to alleviate the persecution of Christians in Muslim lands, said in a videotaped message to attendees at the Kairos dinner that the current religious and political climate is similar to the 1930s. Then, people were forced to choose between apathy and complacency and standing up for what is right. Today, Cox said, the world must choose between freedom and democracy and Islamic oppression.
“Are we going to be Chamberlains or Churchills?” she asked. “Militant Islam is the greatest threat to our social, political and cultural heritage.”