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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Baptism of Muslim Journalist Sparks Vatican Controversy


Easter, according to Christian tradition, is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Today's Easter Mass delivered at the Vatican has been the center of growing controversy. The reason? The baptism of a former Muslim journalist.

The Pope has kicked off the modern Crusades.

That's right, you read it right. The Pope has given his blessings for it, the Holy Church is behind it.

God wills it.

At least that's the message that militant Islamic extremists around the world are touting today after the Pope's Easter Mass in Vatican Square, which included the baptism of Egyptian born journalist and critic of radical Islam Magdi Allam, a Muslim-born convert to Christianity.

The Egyptian-born Allam's conversion to Christianity -- he took the name "Christian" for his baptism -- was kept secret until the Vatican disclosed it in a statement less than an hour before the Saturday night service began.

Allam, who is a strong supporter of Israel and who an Israeli newspaper once called a "Muslim Zionist," has lived under police protection following threats against him, particularly after he criticized Iran's position on Israel.

Writing in Sunday's edition of the leading Corriere della Sera, the newspaper of which he is a deputy director, Allam said he realized that he was in greater danger but he has no regrets.

Allam has been a fierce critic of radical Islam, having writing at one point, "... the root of evil is innate in an Islam that is physiologically violent and historically conflictual," but is happy with his decision to convert to Christianity despite the price he may have to pay if some Muslim extremists have their say in the matter.

He said before converting he had continually asked himself why someone who had struggled for what he called "moderate Islam" was then "condemned to death in the name of Islam and on the basis of a Koranic legitimization."

His conversion, which he called "the happiest day of my life," came just two days after al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden accused the pope of being part of a "new crusade" against Islam.

So far, I don't see any knights polishing up their armor or sharpening their swords, ordering pages and squires around to gather gear, equipment, and supplies to make the long journey to the Holy Land.

So far, I don't see any knights polishing up their armor or sharpening their swords, ordering pages and squires around to gather gear, equipment, and supplies to make the long journey to the Holy Land.

One of the great tenets of Western religion is the concept of free will; man is free to choose his own destiny, to determine his own life, and free to choose to believe or not to believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the Savior of mankind from eternal life in the fires of Hell.

Religion has been, and probably will continue to be, one of the great driving factors in the conflicts of mankind throughout the ages. The original Crusades were as much politically motivated as religiously, although that is a fact that is often overlooked by many so-called Crusade experts of today.

Perhaps, in the minds of some, this is a sort of modern day Crusade that is being undertaken. Perhaps the conversion of Allam to Christianity from Islam can be perceived as being a part of that Crusade. There can be no doubt that it is a conflict of culture, a conflict of ideals, and a war that was begun in the name of religion. Those with any doubts should take a moment and read the accounts of survivors of attacks in which the cries of "Allah ackbar" can be heard shouted by suicide (i.e. homicide) attackers.

Religion, spirituality, and the like should be, in the minds of many, a private thing, something to be experienced between the individual and the object of worship. While it is true that behavior can be imposed upon others, belief can not. What a person believes, or chooses not to believe, can not be prescribed upon them at the point of a gun, or in many cases involving Islamic radicals, the point of a sword.

Belief, and disbelief alike, are personal, private, and up to the individual. Who we worship, how we worship, and if we choose to worship at all, can not be something that is forced upon us, as people.