I saw an article on Facebook yesterday of 8 nude bodies hanging from 8 crosses with the title “ISIS Crucifies 8 Christians in Syria for Apostasy from Islam.” Pretty emotional stuff. The article, which links here, has over 27,000 Facebook likes. Here is the text of the article in its entirety:
Various sources have received independent confirmation from inside Syria that these men were former Muslims that had converted to Christianity, Illinois Review reports. (Photo: Illustration from the documentary about the Armenian genocide) They were not ‘..rebel fighters from a rival faction..’ as many news outlets are reporting.
Each of the 8 men were charged with the crime of apostasy for renouncing Islam and converting to Christianity. When confronted by the ISIS members, they refused to “revert” to Islam.
This is the “only” reason they were crucified. According to Islamic jurisprudence, crucifixion is a method of death reserved for Christians. They do not crucify other Muslims.
If you took journalism in school, there are a few things that should stand out to you as a bit fishy… “Various sources” are mentioned, but no sources are listed. If you to go the “original report” that it links to at the Illinois Review website, you find the exact same text as simply been copied and pasted and has been copied and pasted onto several other websites reporting the same story. On the Illinois Review website, you do find the “sources” listed but they Twitter accounts and a random business website. Not the mention the fact that the provocative photo of the nude hanging bodies is actually from a documentary on the 1915 Armenian genocide, not from this past weekend. While the article does cite this, that should be a pretty big clue of the emotionally misleading nature of the post.
You simply can’t believe everything you read online. The truth is websites like the Illinois Review, the VIE website the article I’m referring to is on, as well as the business website that is listed as a source is that they are all pretty much no different than my blog. Just some random people putting stuff up online, only in their case, they’re trying to make it look a credible and factual news source.
You then read credible news sources and find out no one is actually sure if these crucified men were dead already and then hung up to be displayed or were actually crucified alive. The actual photos show a public display of the bodies on a platform hanging by their hands, but not Jesus-cross crucifixions that the 1919 photo depicts. Other reports state that these men weren’t actually Christians, but were moderate Muslims who were opposing the militant regime.
Who’s to say which is the correct version? Not me. That’s not my point here. My point is be careful what you believe and spread because it can cause serious problems when it comes to our own racism and hatred.
There are several major problems that this type of “journalism” stirs up:
- It makes people hate Muslims and want to kill them. Check out these comments from beneath the websites who posted about these as the crucifixion of Christians:
“Islam must be destroyed! The intolerant anti-Christian and anti-Semite Muslims are barbaric nuts!”
“Muslim scum! I hate these f***ers! they need to be wiped off the face of the earth!”
“All Islamic savages need to be eradicated, that is “obliterated,” from the earth. However, as they are a total manifestation of Satan, Satan would then devise another way to implement his manifesto against God. It seems there no “peace” for Christians.”
- It gets all Christians thoroughly mocked for gullibility, having no journalistic integrity and doing anything to create a sensationalized story that victimized us, as you can find in the comments on this Baltimore Sun article
- It makes us think that all Muslims are extremists, causing us to racially profile the Arabs and Muslims in our every day lives.
Morgan Spurlock, director of the award winning documentary Super Size Me, had a show out a few years ago called 30 Days, in which someone would live in an opposite culture of what they were used to within America for 30 days. In a 2005 episode, a white conservative Christian from Charleston, SC lived with a Muslim family in Dearborn, MI (Dearborn has the densest Muslim population in the USA) for 30 days and had to live, work and function as a Muslim. The show was fascinating. What struck me most was the Muslims he lived with talking about the racial profiling they endured and the assumptions people made about them, as if because they were Arab, they wanted to kill Christians and blow up buildings.
How racism and racial profiling of this type works is that we see extremist actions by Arabic Muslims and we assume all Arabs/Muslims are this way. Meanwhile, there is a huge percentage of Arabs and Muslims that are not this way we are now filled with prejudice toward. Any friendly Muslim or Arab we meet in person is the exception to our prejudiced rule of who Arabs and Muslims are.
The irony of racial profiling is that we don’t treat our own group the same way. We see extremists acts of our own group (in my case, white people and/or white Christians) and we label those extremists as the exception, not the rule. White professing Christians blow up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 and we don’t immediately assume all white Christians blow up buildings. Or we see Westboro Baptist Church holding “God Hates Fags” signs all over kingdom come and we don’t assume all Christians are this way. If someone were to associate you with either Timothy McVeigh or with Westboro because you are white and a Christian, how would you respond?
So don’t do the same to Muslims and Arabs who adamantly disagree with militant groups like ISIS and Hamas.
And yes, Islam does make all this trickier. There are passages in the Quran that command violence and murder of people who don’t believe in Islam and there is definitely a conquest bent to the book and the origins of the religion. Do these things make me nervous? Yes a little. Am I trying to defend Islam or the Quran? No I’m not. But I will say there are some verses in the Old Testament of my Bible that are pretty disturbing if they are taken out of context, such as killing people who commit adultery or killing a son who is stubborn and rebellious. An extremist “Christian” could do some pretty scary things with these Scriptures, whereas we are able to understand and explain them using some pretty basic hermeneutics of context and covenant. Is there a way of interpreting the Quran where Muslims don’t feel commanded to kill and murder apostates? I’d assume so. Before jumping the gun and assuming all Muslims are terrorists, we should probably ask our Muslim friends how they interpret these texts. (Which begs the question, do you have any Muslim friends? Because you should.)
I am not in any way trying to diminish the legitimate persecution Christians in the Middle East are facing, nor am I making any truth claims about what did or didn’t happen to those dead bodies that were publicly displayed in Syria. What I do want to do is help prevent the stirring up of unfounded sensationalism that breeds hate, fear, racism and vengeance.
Do we need to be praying for the Christians who are being persecuted in the Middle East? Most definitely.
But we also need to be praying for the moderate Muslims and the secular Muslims undergoing some of the same persecution, along with the many innocent Arabic children caught in the crossfires.
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