February 24, 2015

"Four months ago, I raised questions after The New York Times reported that Islamic State beheading victim James Foley made a sincere conversion from Catholicism to Islam during his captivity."

Writes Bobby Ross Jr. at Get Religion:
At the time, the Times reporter who wrote the story defended the newspaper's characterization of Foley's conversion....

Now, though, a different Times writer has produced an in-depth piece seriously exploring Foley's faith...
Is any conversion under such duress a legitimate one? Why would a man who had spoken so openly about his Catholic faith turn to Islam? Given his circumstances, is it even surprising if he did?... Mr. Foley’s mother, Diane... said that she had spoken months earlier with Jejoen Bontinck, a Belgian former captive who is Muslim, after his release, and that he had described her son’s conversion as a genuine act. Then, after French and Spanish captives were released, Ms. Foley said she received a somewhat different version of events.

“What the hostages had told me was that by saying that he had converted to Islam, he would be left alone five times a day, without being beaten, so that he could pray,” she said in an interview.... “Only God and Jim know what was going on in his heart,” she said. “I think the Lord used Jim in a magnificent way in the last two years of his life. He gave hope to his fellow captives.”
(I added the boldface.)

ADDED: "Only God and Jim know what was going on in his heart" resonates with "How [could] I say if I know either of you are a Christian?"

"For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man that is in him?"

41 comments:

rhhardin said...

It's a religion for organized crime. You'd expect more Italians to join it.

The Drill SGT said...

no surprise there. Either that he made an accommodation to survive or that the NYT would try to make a lot out of it.

Anthony said...

I have no insight to what is written on men's hearts. But as a Catholic, if God forbid I ever find myself in the same circumstances, I pray He gives me the power to face death as the 21 Coptic martyrs did.

traditionalguy said...

The Religion of Peace( That is peace upon Muslims only, and all the rest submit or die) Caliph is busy conquering new Christian areas in Syria and taking Christians captive for a new round of horrible death cult sacrifices to allah.

They are bragging that Foley was the first of many Crusaders to get their heads slowly sawed off while Allu Akbar chants reveberate in the heavens.

It must be time for another 18 holes.

The Drill SGT said...

rhhardin said...
It's a religion for organized crime. You'd expect more Italians to join it.


On one hand there is:

- Fabrizio Quattrocchi

The Italian hostage executed in Iraq tried to tear off his hood seconds before he was shot dead and screamed: "Now I'll show you how an Italian dies."


On the other hand, the Milanese insult the Sicilians by calling them "Baptized Arabs"

EDH said...

If the NYT were even handed, they would have explained that waterboarding isn't torture, but a baptism in a voluntary conversion.

And how dare the NYT question James Foley's Christianity or love of America.

Birches said...

no surprise there. Either that he made an accommodation to survive or that the NYT would try to make a lot out of it.

Actually, it is a little surprising for me that the NYT would try and make something more out of it (a little, not a lot). The Coastal Liberal Elite has lost their freakin' minds. How does a genuine conversion to Islam make the fact that he was beheaded sting any less? Does it help them foolishly believe the beheading was nonreligious in nature? They are the ones with Stockholm Syndrome.

Lyle said...

Yeah, yeah... don't attack Obama's "Christianity". Whatever. His heart is full of balderdash, I still contend.

wildswan said...


Not sure why he was beheaded if he did convert.

Also, a Catholic would not regard an interfaith prayer service as evidence of conversion. Pope Francis prayed in a mosque. But what do they think in Islam?

traditionalguy said...

The day the 21 Coptics were executed for their Christianity, Obama probably played 21 holes of golf.

The game seems to be that B. Hussein Obama gets to play another hole of golf for each Christian that his Muslim brothers can exterminate.



BDNYC said...

How does their religion justify the murder of a coreligionist? I thought Muslims could only murder Jews and Christians and so on.

Paddy O said...

Sounds like Scorcese's Silence is coming out none too soon.

The book is itself excellent.

Larry J said...

Anthony said...
I have no insight to what is written on men's hearts. But as a Catholic, if God forbid I ever find myself in the same circumstances, I pray He gives me the power to face death as the 21 Coptic martyrs did.


Personally, I think this man set a better example. Rather than dying on his knees, the stood and confronted his murderers.

Richard Dolan said...

Humility is a Christian virtue. As the pope is wont to say, who am I to judge?

Alas, in Islam it seems to be a different story.

pm317 said...

"How [could] I say if I know either of you are a Christian?"

Oh, going after Walker on this is the same vile tactic adopted by Obama and his minions aka the media to deter his opponents going after his muslim middle name in 2008 campaign and calling everyone a racist at the drop of a hat. If you questioned him, you are a racist; if you said you don't know his faith you are implying he is a muslim. {And they purposely hid his middle name all during the 2008 campaign and anyone calling attention to it was called names}.

Birches said...

@ Paddy O

I love that book, but it was hard enough to read, I don't think I could bear to watch it as a movie.

Laslo Spatula said...

Is Obama a member of the Democratic Church of the Rhetorical Christ?

I am Laslo.

Paddy O said...

Birches, that book falls into the category of books I've loved that I've not reread.

I'll likely see the movie, since I might use it in a class sometime, but I might wait until it comes out on dvd, so I can watch it in sections.

SJ said...

"How [could] I say if I know either of you are a Christian?"

"By their fruits you shall know them," Jesus said.*


---------------------------------
*Also true of ISIS.

Not all Muslims spend time capturing/murdering infidels. Nor do all Muslims spend time using torture and murder to terrorize fellow Muslims who aren't under the authority of ISIS.

Whether or not ISIS is "True Islam", it is a movement which bears murderous fruit. Even executing captives who might have been fresh converts to Islam.

sparrow said...

SJ nails it

Bob Ellison said...

People of faith generally question their own faith in varying degrees, but there are trends. I think Jews question most, Christians second-most ("why have you forsaken me?"), and Muslims least.*

But people of no faith (agnostics and atheists) tend not to question their lack of faith at all.

Now, I assume that most journalists are faithless, like me. So what is their problem with this? If Walker or Rudy suggests that someone else might not be on the first step to the kingdom of heaven, what the hell business is it of theirs?

*Buddhists and others, I dunno. They seem a little like Unitarians.

Gabriel said...

@BDNYC:How does their religion justify the murder of a coreligionist?

@wildswan:Not sure why he was beheaded if he did convert.

Like any other religion, Islam is easily perverted to justify what it is you want to do anyway.

Muslims of the ISIS stripe believe that true Islam consists of doing what ISIS does.



Anonymous said...

Blogger Paddy O said...
Sounds like Scorcese's Silence is coming out none too soon.

The book is itself excellent.

2/24/15, 9:46 AM
--------------------------

Why wait? See "Of Gods and Men".

Gabriel said...

@Bob Ellison:But people of no faith (agnostics and atheists) tend not to question their lack of faith at all.

a) It's not true. Living without religious faith is somewhat like being color blind--everyone around you constantly talks about something that you do not perceive.

b) It's a category error that you fall into because pretending that lack of faith = faith is a rhetorical trick. From a contradiction anything follows.

There are people without religious faith who find a belief system that gives them much of the emotional component of religious belief. Marxism, radical environmentalism, and Objectivism are the examples par excellence. They give the non-religious all the fun of anathematizing heretics and promulgating dogma that they would otherwise miss out on. But that doesn't make them relgions, any more than peanut butter is cake just because they both make you full when you are hungry.

Unknown said...

I am a hundred percent certain that the conversion was not genuine. I am also a hundred percent certain that his captors did not view the conversion as legitimate, which is evidenced by the fact that was he was beheaded.

Bob Ellison said...

Gabriel, good arguments. But I'm not trying to read minds. I'm talking about tendencies. If you live in Manhattan, God is not ubiquitous the way He might be in, say, Kansas. America today is about as religion-agnostic as any society, ever.

Your item (b) is a little wrong.

1) Lack of faith != faith

This is true.

2) Faith that faith is false = faith

This is also true.

Gabriel said...

@Bob Ellison:Faith that faith is false = faith

When you're hungry, you are really full because your belly is full of emptiness.

Freedom from freedom is also freedom.

I could go on, but put this way the sophistry is evident.

William said...

"Paris is worth a Mass."......I've just read the biography of Catherine the Great. Both she and her daughter in law converted from German Lutherans to the Russian Orthodox faith in order to become Russian royalty....,,Religion is your bargain with God. It doesn't necessarily have to be a sacred bargain.

damikesc said...

Yes, I often buy massive changes of views as being legitimate when somebody is a captive and regularly beaten.

Really, I do.

Kentucky Packrat said...

Christians are allowed and required to judge and criticize one another, but are also not supposed to be eager to find fault (the true idea behind Judge Not). It is a painful area to be involved with, because a sensitive Christian should know in his heart that he himself deserves God's judgement as much as (or more than) the person he's criticizing.

I feel very sorry for the Foleys, but (unlike Muslims) Christians are expressly forbidden from pretending to convert for reasons of comfort or convenience (or for practically any reason). Christ specifically tells us that, if we reject Him in front of man, Christ rejects us in front of God the Father.

I don't want to trust the witnesses here; a Muslim convert (even from Stockholm Syndrome) has incredible incentive to "creatively remember" a conversion for Mr. Foley too. However, if we can know that Mr. Foley converted (even in fraud), then he traded momentary comfort at the cost of eternal reward. Instead of clicking our tongues and "understanding", we must hope and pray that he repented of any such conversion before his death.

Jane the Actuary said...

Historical tidbit: you know how back in the days of the Early Church, every believer who was caught, was martyred, eaten by lions and the like?

Not so much. Persecution waxed and waned, and when it intensified, plenty of Christians were happy to sacrifice to the Emperor to save their hides, and afterwards, church leaders debated about whether to let them back in.

I'd have to do a little more digging to see if I can find something on the compromise they eventually came up with. But my point is just that this isn't a new question.

http://janetheactuary.blogspot.com/2015/02/the-21-copts-were-real-martyrs.html

Bob Ellison said...

Gabriel, I think I don't understand what you're trying to say.

kcom said...

"But my point is just that this isn't a new question."

There are no new questions.

Unfortunately, slavery and crucifixion aren't relics of the past either, but right there along our golden path through the 21st century.

Beldar said...

Most important question for politicians to debate in the 2016 presidential primaries, the question that every candidate must be expected to answer without sidestepping, lest he be accused of being unprepared or waffling:

"Exactly how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?"

Question for the general election:

"Can God make a rock so heavy that even he can't lift it?"

For Pete's sake let's not talk about Iranian nukes or multi-trillion dollar deficits.

Rocketeer said...

Christians are allowed and required to judge and criticize one another, but are also not supposed to be eager to find fault (the true idea behind Judge Not).

"Judge not lest ye be judged" is an admonition against hypocrisy, not a prohibition against righteous judgement.

Birches said...

I feel very sorry for the Foleys, but (unlike Muslims) Christians are expressly forbidden from pretending to convert for reasons of comfort or convenience (or for practically any reason). Christ specifically tells us that, if we reject Him in front of man, Christ rejects us in front of God the Father.


I don't think that needed to be said. I'll let God sort it out.

Jane the Actuary said...

Slavery and crucifixion?

But - but -- isn't the Arc of History (TM) bending toward justice? Doesn't History Belong to the Good Guys? That's what Obama told me!

Gabriel said...

@Bob Ellison:Gabriel, I think I don't understand what you're trying to say.

You are playing a rhetorical trick which I have shown for what it is.

You say decribe agnostics and atheists as having a "Faith that faith is false" which you equate to a "faith", which you criticize atheists and agnostics for not questioning, thereby accusing them of hypocrisy.

I am pointing out that your rhetorical trick is bogus by using simpler sentences.

If I desired to keep you in chains, you would not accept my argument that you are "free from freedom" and therefore "free".

If I desired you to remain hungry, you would not accept my argument that your belly is "full of emptiness" and therefore you are "full".

Likewise I do not accept your argument that a lack of faith is "faith that faith is false".

George Orwell describes your first reply to me with this word:

blackwhite:loyal willingness to say black is white when... discipline demands this. It also means the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know black is white, and forget that one has ever believed the contrary.

He describes your second with this one:

crimestop:The faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments... and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction.

Kentucky Packrat said...

Not so much. Persecution waxed and waned, and when it intensified, plenty of Christians were happy to sacrifice to the Emperor to save their hides, and afterwards, church leaders debated about whether to let them back in.

I will agree with this sentiment: a forced conversion is not the unpardonable sin. If Mr. Foley did convert intentionally, and then repented, he was forgiven. Christ knows hearts, we don't. However, there are reasons the Holy Spirit allows martyrdom (both to death and not), and failure of a Christian to act like a Christian can ruin the positive effects the Holy Spirit is attempting to generate.

For example, Mr. Foley may well have been in Libya to witness (by act, if not by word) to the two Islamic men who "declared" him Muslim. Instead, he goes with it, and provides little to no Christian witness to the two men. Likewise if he explicitly converted in Syria; some person may have been deprived of some needed witness.

Christ specifically tells us that, if we reject Him in front of man, Christ rejects us in front of God the Father.
I don't think that needed to be said. I'll let God sort it out.


Why tell a four year old not to put their hand on a stove? I don't think that needed to be said. Why tell a six year old not to drink drain cleaner? Why tell a twelve year old not to smoke, or not to drink and drive?

Actions here on Earth have eternal consequences, and any Christian who fails to tell a young believer does said young person a great disservice. In a martyrdom scenario (death or imprisonment), a Christian should leave no doubt upon captor and fellow prisoner alike that a man or woman of God has been there. Mr. Foley missed that opportunity, and it could have had eternal consequences. What good is it to gain a few minutes of life (much less the entire world) if he put his eternal soul at risk?

All Christians should be taught this, but especially ones heading into places like Syria or Libya where it might need to be used.

Gabriel said...

@Kentucky Packrat: In a martyrdom scenario (death or imprisonment), a Christian should leave no doubt upon captor and fellow prisoner alike that a man or woman of God has been there. Mr. Foley missed that opportunity, and it could have had eternal consequences. What good is it to gain a few minutes of life (much less the entire world) if he put his eternal soul at risk?

Peter denied Christ three times. That's quite the example. He had literally just seen Jesus.

Catholics in England used mental reservations to escape persecution when forced to answer questions about their faith under oath. I don't doubt that Protestants evaded Inquisition in the same way.

I'm pretty sure martyrdom, while desirable, is not mandatory and a Christian can outwardly deny Christianity, under duress, without fear of damnation.

damikesc said...

Actions here on Earth have eternal consequences, and any Christian who fails to tell a young believer does said young person a great disservice. In a martyrdom scenario (death or imprisonment), a Christian should leave no doubt upon captor and fellow prisoner alike that a man or woman of God has been there. Mr. Foley missed that opportunity, and it could have had eternal consequences. What good is it to gain a few minutes of life (much less the entire world) if he put his eternal soul at risk?

While I don't fully disagree, I'll note it's an easy belief to have when not facing that situation.