Deception at Boston Marathon Bombing Interfaith Service?

In follow-up of our last post , Cardinal O’Malley Hosting Obama at Cathedral for Interfaith Prayer Service, and the 100+ public and private email comments it generated at BCI and at this Catholic forum, BCI has been prayerfully reconsidering that last post.  Some long-time readers and BCI supporters strongly disagreed with the post, and some were in agreement.  Even with the two bombing suspects no longer at large, many people are still feeling pain.  Should we blog even once more about the interfaith service?  We thought not, but something happened there that we feel needs to be reported, and we have some open questions from last post. The possibility of national deception by one of the speakers should not be overlooked.

First, just to clarify our perspective at BCI, we said multiple times that prayers were needed and we agree 100% with readers who said in the wake of the senseless evil bombing at the Marathon, Boston needed a strong spiritual moment. We still need prayers and to pray. The interfaith service on Thursday at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross appeared to have provided a strong spiritual moment to promote healing for the victims and the city.  Many churches have celebrated Masses or prayer programs/vigils in the days following the bombing and through the weekend.  In our opinion, it is a very good thing that the Catholic Church has been involved, and remains involved, in marking this tragedy in various ways and extending love and prayer for the community.

With that said, if you want to feel good about the interfaith service, we suggest that you stop reading here.  The questions of deception and scandal come next.

As reported in the Boston Globe and other publications, one of the speakers on Thursday, Nasser Weddady, director of civil rights outreach for the American Islamic Congress, read a verse from the Koran, from Surat Al-Maida verse 32, that he said brought him comfort in the past and may bring comfort today. Here is the exact text from his talk and passage he cited: “Whoever kills a soul, it is as if he killed mankind entirely, and whoever saves a life, it is as if he saved all of mankind.”

The problem is, the Quran does not exactly say this. And what it does say instead is rather troubling when you look closely–there is an exception and justification for murder that the speaker conveniently left out.  BCI merely Googled Surah 5:32. Here is one translation:

On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.

Here is an explanation from WikiIslam:

This verse  is one of the most often-quoted verses purportedly taken from the Qur’an, thus proving the incompatibility of Islam with all forms of terrorism.

This verse has become so popular among Islam’s apologists that the President of the United States, Barack Obama, even quotes it in his speech delivered at Cairo University in June 4, 2009. Visiting the countless pro-Islamic websites, forums and blogs on the net, you are almost guaranteed to be confronted with this verse.

But try as you might, you will not find it in a Qur’an. The reason for this is quite simple: the verse in question does not exist.

What you are actually presented with by Muslims is a distorted, out-of-context paraphrasing of the following verse:

On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone slew a person – unless it be in retaliation for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew all mankind: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all humanity.  Qur’an 5:32

Analysis of Verse 5:32 from WikiIslam

Firstly, this verse is written in past tense (Ordained, not Ordain) and does not apply to Muslims but to “the Children of Israel” i.e. the Jews who, according to Islam, received an earlier set of scriptures.

Secondly, when the clause which allows killing is reinserted and we read it in context with the following two verses directed at Muslims (notice the reference to Allah’s messenger and the switch to present tense), what first appeared on the surface to be a peaceful message, is in actual fact a chilling warning to non-believers:

The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter; Except for those who repent before they fall into your power: in that case, know that Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
Qur’an 5:33-34

Even if one allows that WikiIslam is a site critical of Islam, a rebuttal of that criticism at the site Islamic Life is still concerning. Here is how they explain what qualifies as “mischief through the land”:

In Surah Al-Qasas Allah has said that Fir’awn made mischief in the land. He oppressed the people and made life difficult for them, and he divided them into sections and groups. One of them he harassed very much.
BCI is not expert at Islam, so we could use some help from an Islam expert. Does this appear to say, if a person or entity does not accept Islam and “makes mischief” (along the lines of the above), it is permissible in Islam for them to be murdered or have their hands and feet cut off?  The passage from the Koran was offered as a source of comfort from the pulpit at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the aftermath of the bombing that claimed innocent lives and left people with limbs gone. A more careful study of the passage suggests that instead, the passage could be condoning or calling for violence.
How does that make you feel about the Thursday service?
Beyond that, we also learn from this report that the imam of a mosque managed by the Muslim Brotherhood-founded Muslim American Society (MAS) was initially invited to speak at Thursday’s interfaith service,  but that invitation was later rescinded by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s office:

The Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center’s (ISBCC) Imam Suhaib Webb, according to a series of Twitter posts, was replaced as the representative of Boston’s Muslim community at the service—whose keynote speaker was President Barack Obama—in favor of Nasser Wedaddy.Webb posted on his Twitter account Thursday, “Sorry, Muhammad Wedaddy from the American Islamic Congress will represent Boston Muslims.” Asked by another Twitter user who Wedaddy was, Webb wrote, “No idea. I was informed last night at 9pm that he was replacing me? lets focus on the service.” Webb later tweeted, “I was told the governor’s office made the call.”

MAS-affiliated Web sites “have featured articles advocating jihad and suicide martyrdom.” ADL also cites individuals involved with MAS including radical Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader and terrorism supporter Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who is the chairman of Islamic American University, an MAS subsidiary in Michigan, and the Islamic Society of Boston’s founding president Abdurahman Alamoudi, who is “serving a 23-year prison sentence for illegal dealings with Libya and his involvement in a plot to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.”

Does the above raise enough questions?

We could stop there, but we return to a topic and questions raised in the comments on our last post: Exactly how far should Catholics go in welcoming certain individuals to speak from the pulpit in a Catholic Church, even if it is outside the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? This is an edited version of our response to comments by “Attaboy:

  • Would someone who overtly called for murder of innocent people, or was affiliated with groups who supported the murder of innocent people be permitted to speak in a Catholic Church?
  • In the 1940s, would a rabbi have been expected to welcome a figure such as Adolf Hitler into a temple, out of respect for the office of chancellor of Germany?
  • If a featured speaker on Thursday was complicit in, supportive of, or actively involved in the systematic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime, would they be have been welcome to speak at the interfaith service at the Cathedral?
  • If a featured speaker was complicit in or supportive of the systematic dismemberment and brutal murder of 5 million young children in the past 4 years alone, would they have been allowed to speak at the interfaith service?
  • What if the person openly and proudly supported the sexual abuse of minors?
  • What if the person proudly supported the Rwandan genocide in 1994 when more than 500,000 people were killed in 100 days?
  • What is the person was driving moves that will require Catholics to act against our faith and morals, as described in this piece from CNS?

No doubt, good was done by people coming together in prayer as a community. But, specifically what sort of actions by a political leader would cause you (Attaboy), rank-and-file Catholics, or Cardinal O’Malley to conclude the person should not be a featured speaker at any Catholic Church or Catholic program? Exactly how bad must they be where we all say, “NO”?

Questions still remain for BCI with regard to the interfaith service. More importantly, we all have questions about the senseless evil of the bombing. In the absence of answers and amidst the pain of this tragedy, we pray that God bring hope and healing to all affected by the Boston Marathon bombing.

24 Responses to Deception at Boston Marathon Bombing Interfaith Service?

  1. jbq2 says:

    These are questions that need to be asked. I will have to reread this posting a few times to get a better perspective.

  2. Liam says:

    This strikes me like the way Catholic preachers will quote Matthew 19:6 without reference to 19:9.

    As for your further airing concerns about the fact of an interfaith service, that is in the words of Fr Z a rabbit hole that will mostly serve to marginalize your site.

    • Liam, Thank you for your comments. Perhaps it is a rabbit hole. The last comment we saw from Fr. Z on interfaith prayer services was this one:

      It was the occasion of an African pagan priest singing a prayer to the pagan deity of Olokun at the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi. That is a little different than the program last Thursday. About that situation, Fr. Z said, “When something is consecrated, it should be used for sacred purposes or at least purposes that are not contrary to the Faith. Was that African holy man doing something contrary to our Faith? I cant say for sure, because I dont know enough about what that fellow actually sang. I dont understand that language. But it sure* looks* like he did. My immediate impression was not good. At the very least, the choice to have that in a *consecrated church* shows little regard on the part of the organizers for the appearance of things. It was also wrong to be so insensitive to the Catholic sensibilities of members of our Holy Church.” He also said “I dont think this is worth freaking out over.”

      That said, we raised questions which are open to readers to respond to. Where do you feel the line should be drawn on whether to allow certain speakers a pulpit in a Catholic church?

    • Ferde Rombola says:

      Liam, from your remarks criticizing BCI for its reaction to the interfaith service in the Cathedral, I conclude you didn’t read it accurately. BCI’s problem, and mine is, the service was organized by the civil authorities who are in truth, the enemies of the Church. They were given honored places at the assembly and their anti-Catholic actions carefully papered over. If the Muslim who has gotten so much attention were living in a Muslim-ruled country, he would consider you and I infidels and subject to punishment if we lived there and tried to exercise our faith. And don’t kid yourself about that.

      This service should not have been held in the Cathedral. That it was is a scandal whether you agree or not. BCI will not be marginalized from faithful Catholics.

      • Liam says:

        I read it quite accurately. I question the prudence of this manner of proceeding. We happen to disagree as faithful Catholics. Faithful Catholics are allowed to have different opinions on interpreting these things. I am not denying you or BCI’s right to do this, but raising questions about the practical effects on the larger mission of BCI. If BCI is willing to have itself ghettoized with this approach, it is free to do so.

      • Liam,
        We get it. We do care about the credibility of BCI to continue taking on other issues.

        So, we direct our questions here especially to those who believe it was not a good idea for BCI to take up this topic. Specifically how bad must an enemy of Catholic values or the Catholic Church be for us to conclude they should not be permitted to speak from the pulpit in a Catholic Church to avoid scandalizing the faithful? Can any and all public officials, regardless of their record of intrinsically evil actions, get a speaking slot at the pulpit in a Catholic Church because in one particular situation, their appearance might contribute to achieving a good end? Where exactly would you draw the line and say, “NO” in the scenarios we listed?

      • Liam says:

        I would say that it’s foolish to try to come up with an abstract policy that delineates things with such specifity; the Church itself has avoided that probably for prudential reasons. In the context of Boston last week, I don’t think the better part of valor would have been for Cdl Sean to pick this time and place for that battle, as I believe it would have largely backfired against the Church in an awful way. You can’t legislate the specifics of prudence in advance.

    • Michael says:

      Maybe you should worry less about being marginalized and more about the truth. BCI is spot on … regarding the truth. There is a very reasonable question being raised about whether in truth, this interfaith service was inappropriate in its form. Obviously no one would disagree that bringing the community together for healing is a bad thing. Indeed, it is a good thing. In fact, having the Catholic Church be the lead on a healing service is a great thing. The specific nuance is the way in which this gathering was accomplished. Completely legitimate issue to raise.

      Liam, precisely what did Jesus mean when he said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me?” [John 14:6] Liam what did Jesus mean by “the truth?” Judged by the standard of “the truth,” isn’t your comment about being marginalized pretty insignificant/meaningless? Are you looking to follow the way, the truth and the life? Or are you worried about appearances and crowdpleasing?

      BCI obviously has never been worried about being marginalized (just look at its history of controversial – yet truthful – postings) and as Attaboy recently commented: “What would Jesus do?” Jesus specifically prepared his followers to not worry about being marginalized and indeed expect persecution. He said: if you follow me, you WILL be marginalized.

      JOHN 15:17-23
      17 These things I command you, that you love one another.
      18 If the world hate you, know
      ye, that it hath hated me before you.
      19 If you had been of the world, the world would love its own:
      but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world
      hateth you.
      20 Remember my word that I said to you: The servant is not greater than his master. If
      they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you: if they have kept my word, they will keep
      yours also.
      21 But all these things they will do to you for my name’s sake: because they know not
      him who sent me.
      22 If I had not come, and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they
      have no excuse for their sin.
      23 He that hateth me, hateth my Father also.

      Liam, while your comments come across as innocently trying to help protect BCI from hurting its cause, your intent in doing so is not to promote the truth, but rather to hide it. Your comment (manipulatively) attempting to use social proof as a way of stopping BCI from continuing to ask the tough moral questions that the Cardinal should be asking himself, is a form of religious persecution; indeed, the precise kind of persecution that Jesus foretold.

      Keep it up BCI … the duty to educate the laity is the Cardinal’s but since he has failed in his duty, it appears that your next in line.

  3. DBP says:

    I am not an expert on Islam, and I want to go on the record saying that I do not believe that Islam’s “Allah” is the God that we and our Jewish forbears know. However, from the perspective of a Muslim believer, I think that the Surah quoted only partially at the service is, in some ways, akin to the way we Christians view Jesus’ teachings during the Sermon on the Mount.

    Specifically, in Matthew 5:38-42 Jesus details how He has come to fulfill the law.

    “38 You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; 40 and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; 41 and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.”

    This is one of several direct statements that Jesus makes which show His disciples the way “The Law” was a partial and incomplete means of following the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus is clearly saying something like, “In the former days, the Father gave our forbears the Law to guide them in an upright life. However, I now – speaking in the Father’s Name and Voice – both qualify and expand on the Law’s teachings.”

    It should be noted that, unlike Jesus’ proclamation that He had not come to do away with the Law but fulfill it, the quoted Surah (and the attitude of Islam in general) seems to be the opposite: that the Qu’uran supplants the Old Testament and invalidates the New.

    I agree completely that, if my reading of the passage is accurate, there is a clear attempt to deceive. It would be like a Christian preacher saying, “Jesus said, ‘…an eye for an eye.'” Literally true, but quite the opposite of the saying in context.

    • Warren Goddard says:

      DBP, the gods of Moslems and Jews do not have a Son.

      • DBP says:

        Thank you, Warren, for that insight. Muslims and Jews also do not have bodily resurrection, or atonement for sins, or a sacramental economy. But since I was only discussing one element of Islam I didn’t think I needed to get into an entire catechesis. Apparently, in your case at least, I was wrong.

        And, by the way, the Jews do have the same God that we Christians do; the doctrine of the Church is quite clear on this, calling Abraham “our father in faith,” and “the first to believe in the one true God.”

  4. Disco says:

    I believe the Cathedral of the Holy Cross was chosen as a venue for this service because it is the largest house of worship in Boston of any faith. It was an act of charity for the Cardinal to allow the service to take place in his cathedral.

    I would hope that the body of the lord was removed from the tabernacle at the high altar and reserved eslewhere for the duration of the service, does anyone know if this was done prior to?

    I’m no expert on Islam either, the only thing I know about it is that it is not true. The interfaith service, in my opinion, was born out of a need to show charity to our neighbors who are hurting just as we are and who need comfort but would not seek it from the one true church.

    • Liam says:

      The cathedral has a separate chapel of reservation, as is ordinarily the case for cathedrals.

    • Disco,
      Thank you for your comment. We understand the reason for the interfaith service. Cardinal O’Malley posted an explanation for it on his blog:

      “I spoke with the governor, who proposed the idea of an ecumenical service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. I told him we would be very pleased to host it.

      My staff worked with his staff and the White House staff in preparing an interfaith service involving Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims and Orthodox Christians, with the presence of the President….

      I think it was an important moment to show solidarity in our community and to commit ourselves to healing and to promoting a culture of life, by showing regard for every human being and having a sense of shared destiny in the need to promote the common good and to overcome the individualism and the ideological polarization that leads to this kind of violence in society.”

      We agree it was important to come together and promote healing and a culture of life. No question there.

      But at what point is it a problem to have enemies of the culture of life and/or enemies of the Catholic Church speaking from the pulpit in our Mother Church, regardless of the “common good” that might be served? BCI welcomes your response to the various scenarios posed in the blog post. Furthermore, how do you feel about the Islamic speaker deceptively quoting a passage from the Koran when the full context of the quote suggests murder of innocent people is permissible?

      • Disco says:


        I would expect nothing less than an islamic cleric deceptively quoting the Koran. From your article I gather that this quotation is the Islamic equivalent of “judge not”. The Islamic faith is spread by fear, violence, and intimidation and it has been so since the time of Mohammed himself.

        I do not place any fault for these comments at the feet of Cardinal O’Malley, however. He can’t be held accountable for what the imam might say. On the other hand, he couldn’t very well have insisted that the moslem representative be excluded from the service because that would cause needless controversy.

        I think Cardinal O’Malley deserves criticism for his overenthusiastic embrace of what I would call false ecumenism in general, but not in this particular instance. That is a charge we could and should level at much if not nearly all of the US hierarchy, by the way.

  5. Warren Goddard says:

    The unity sides are drawn: Save souls with Moritalium Animos or be nice and dialogue forever with Ut Unum Sint.

  6. William says:

    the real question is why Cardinal OMalley allowed the abortionist-in-chief into the Temple of God.

  7. James Joyce says:

    Jesus welcomes saints and sinners alike. You who would shun others should take a lesson from Jesus. I detect a little “holier than thou” tone.

    • James Joyce,
      Of course Jesus welcomed sinners, along with a call to repent from their sins. He also did not give them speaking roles from the pulpit.

      We asked questions about where readers would draw the “line in the sand.” BCI is curious as to when you would decide a speaker is not welcome to speak from the pulpit. Which scenario described in the post for an enemy of the Catholic Church would disqualify someone?

  8. Stephen says:

    Couldn’t it be said that Jesus welcomed the Roman soldiers who nailed him to the cross as well? The Perfect Man also is the sacrificial lamb. The modernist false piety that is so common is an offense to the communion of Saints.

    Meanwhile back in the reality of the Blast, far from the ecumenical party the real work of the Church Militant is prevented.

    We are living in true heretical modernist times indeed.

    The tone ringing in your ear is the truth you do not recognize.

  9. […] Engstrom, Ignitum Today Can a Catholic Marries a Non-Christian? – Cathy Caridi JCL, Canon Law Deception at Boston Bombing Interfaith Service? – Boston Catholic Insider Jack McMahon’s Monstrous Line – Rod Dreher What About Pope […]

%d bloggers like this: