Deception at Boston Marathon Bombing Interfaith Service?

April 22, 2013

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.

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Cardinal O’Malley Hosting Obama at Cathedral for Interfaith Prayer Service

April 17, 2013

The Cathedral of the Holy Cross is hosting an Opinioninterfaith prayer service on Thursday at 11am in memory of the victims of Monday’s horrific Boston Marathon bombing.  President Obama is headlining the event. Gov. Deval Patrick, and Boston Mayor Tom Menino will be there, along with Cardinal O’Malley.

We absolutely need to pray for the victims of this evil act. Within hours after the blast, Cardinal O’Malley issued a statement, “The Archdiocese of Boston joins all people of good will in expressing deep sorrow following the senseless acts of violence perpetrated at the Boston Marathon today.”  The 8-year-old boy who died in the blast was identified as Martin Richard, whose family belongs to St. Ann Catholic Parish in Dorchester. His mother and sister were seriously injured.

It also makes sense to promote a message of hope in response to the tragedy to those who are both Catholic and of other faiths. Cardinal O’Malley also said in his statement, “We stand in solidarity with our ecumenical and interfaith colleagues in the commitment to witness the greater power of good in our society and to work together for healing.” Hopefully, people across the country are praying in their own places of worship and according to their respective faiths.

It also is understandable that President Obama, Gov. Patrick, Mayor Menino, and Cardinal O’Malley would make public appearances in support of the victims, their families and all who are affected by the horror of what happened on Monday.

But this headline news is troubling: “Obama to Lead Interfaith Service in South End on Thursday.” Despite the good intentions, an “interfaith prayer service” headlined by President Obama at the Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Cross just feels bad for a number of reasons–practical, political and spiritual.

On a practical basis, one obvious concern as stated at The Tenth Crusade is that instead of looking for the murderer, police power and resources now shift to a Presidential appearance.

Politically, although it is appropriate for the President of the United States to make an appearance in Boston to offer condolences and support, the effect will likely be a political boost to his popularity. And he is doing so in a Catholic Church and the Mother Church of the Boston Archdiocese with the permission, support and imprimatur of Cardinal O’Malley.

We have Obama as no doubt the most anti-Catholic President in history–he is pro-abortion and favors the killing of children in the womb, and his HHS mandate threatens religious freedom for the Catholic Church, Catholic organizations, and any business or organization that operates with Catholic values. Under Obama, the U.S. Army Reserves recently published a training brief on “Extremism & Extremist Organization,” (covering militias, neo-Nazis, Islamic extremism, terrorism and gangs) which listed Catholicism and evangelical Christianity as examples of religious extremism, along with groups including al Qaeda, Hamas and the Ku Klux Klan.  His actions–and those of his administration–give the very clear message that he hates the Catholic Church and opposes our teachings and moral values.  Despite this, on Thursday, we will have the most pro-abortion anti-Catholic president in history, appearing with one of the most pro-abortion governors in the country and the pro-abortion Mayor of Boston, complemented nicely for photo opps by the chair of the USCCB pro-life committee, Cardinal O’Malley, all talking about the senseless loss of life. What message does this give? When it is the senseless murder of adults it is wrong, but we will forget about the senseless murder of the unborn for today’s photo opp?

More important than the practical and political concerns are the spiritual ones of such an interfaith gathering. As we all know, our church teaches us that outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation, because salvation is the Church. This is the dogma of extra ecclesiam nulla salus, which literally means, “outside the church there is no salvation.”  This dogma and its infallibility have been reaffirmed on many occasions. Pope Pius IX said in 1854: “We must hold as of the faith, that out of the Apostolic Roman Church there is no salvation; that she is the only ark of safety, and whosoever is not in her perishes in the deluge.”

Given that reality, how it that Cardinal O’Malley can be comfortable with any “common language for us to pray together” representing the breadth of religious traditions in the city that those organizing the service hope to find–and that happening in the Mother Church of the archdiocese ?  Those involved as of now include the Massachusetts Council of Churches, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, and clergy from First Church Cambridge, Old South Church, Trinity Church, Arlington Street Church and First Church Boston.

How can there be a “common language” for prayer amongst Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Protestantism and other faiths?

Is it at any time appropriate for there to be an “interfaith service” in a Catholic Church, let alone the Cathedral? Will the Body of Christ still be reserved in the Sanctuary too?

In this interfaith service, will there be any mention that the Catholic Church is the Church founded by Our Lord, and it is necessary to be in it for eternal salvation?

Will there be any mention that the Protestants and people of other faiths in attendance are in error, which could condemn their souls to Hell?

One could argue that gathering people together of all faiths to mourn and pray together is a good thing, and that in this time of tragedy, non-Catholics would not take well to being evangelized by the Catholic Church.  Both are valid points and reasons to criticize BCI for this post. But those arguments ignore the fundamental error of the interfaith gathering in a Catholic Church.

To not oppose error, and not instruct people in a charitable and pastorally kind way that they are in error would be to support that error and/or be an accessory to that error. For Catholics who participate, it also risks giving the appearance we are okay with polytheism.

People of all faiths should pray for the victims of the Monday tragedy and for the conversion of the soul of the murderer. If folks want an interfaith gathering to pray for the victims of the horrible tragedy of Monday, that should simply not be in a Catholic Church. And since dialogue with Obama (ie. Notre Dame commencement, the Al Smith Dinner, private negotiations over the HHS mandate) has not moderated his anti-Catholic positions, BCI believes we should not create scandal by having him speak as a featured guest and publicly-acknowledged “leader” of the interfaith service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross with the imprimatur of the Archbishop of Boston.


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