A report from France
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Fixed Points
February 2015


A Report from France

Greetings from Labastide in the south of France.  I have been in Europe for a few weeks now and it has been a very busy time.  Rather than giving you an inventory of my activities, I’d prefer to get straight to the point.  As those of you who attended our end-of-year dinner know, we have turned much of our attention to Islam.  In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris and the West’s weak response, it seems our timing could not have been better.  I hope what follows is informative and helps you to interpret the headlines.  I also hope it inspires your faith in Jesus Christ and gives you some direction in how we as Christians respond to these things. ~ Larry

More than fascism, communism, or Islam, political correctness threatens the very existence of the West as we know it.  At the highest levels of Western governments, media, and the academy, there is a suicidal unwillingness to make the obvious connection between Islam and terrorism.  Let’s see how you do on this little quiz:

Q: What do these things have in common:

The shoe bomber
The Beltway Sniper
The Madrid train bombings
Theo Van Gogh murder
The bombing of the USS Cole
7/7 London subway bombers
Fort Hood shootings
Charlie Hebdo arson (2011)
Murder of Norwegian Christian converts
Toulouse massacre
Oklahoma beheading
Ottawa Parliament attack
Charlie Hebdo massacre (2015)

A: _____________ (Fill in the blank)

Of course, you are all quite intelligent enough to know what Western governments will not acknowledge: the common thread in these terrorists acts—and it is hardly a comprehensive list of attacks—is Islam.

While the West wrings its hands over what to do about Islamic fundamentalism in the West—debating such nonsense as “Is it racist to say that Islam is a violent religion?”—Islamic nations are firebombing, arresting, torturing, and murdering Christians by the hundreds of thousands.  According to Spectator, the global persecution of Christians is “the unreported catastrophe of our time.”  The vast majority of these persecutions are at the hands of Muslims.

The absurdity of the West’s response to Islam is captured in the West’s response to the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.  As I write, the flag atop Westminster Abbey is flying at half mast.  British PM David Cameron eulogized the king saying he would be remembered for “his commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths.”  Obama hustled to attend the king’s funeral and spoke of him as a champion of peace.  There is, however, a problem with this interpretation of the king’s achievements:  

Christianity is illegal in Saudi Arabia.  

More than that, the open practice of Christianity is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.  Saudi Arabia is also exporting Islam around the world, providing huge sums of money for the building of mosques and for the advancement of the Islamic agenda.  And if that weren’t enough, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the main source of funding for Sunni (branch of Islam) terrorism.  As the West continues to make concessions to despots like King Abdullah, nations like Saudi Arabia make no concessions to the West.  The muezzin (the Muslim call to prayer) is broadcast over loudspeakers five times a day in many Western countries (the US among them), but churches and their bells are forbidden in Islamic states.

There are several reasons for this US (and other Western governments’) policy:

First, Saudi Arabia (SA) is the United State’s primary ally, after Israel, in the Middle East.  Hence, Republican and Democratic Presidents have deemed our relationship with SA critical to US policy in the region.  As a consequence, the US has been largely unwilling to condemn Saudi human rights abuses or their funding of the Islamic agenda.  It has been said that the person who loves the least controls the relationship.  Well, Saudi Arabia loves America less than we love SA.  As a result, the relationship is unequal.

Western leaders are fearful to make a public link between Islam and terrorism.  After 9/11, a friend of mine who is an Islamic expert was flown to Crawford, Texas to proof a speech President Bush was about to give.  In it, Bush repeatedly spoke of Islam as a religion of peace.  My friend read the speech and told Bush’s advisers that this was factually incorrect.  What about the millions of moderates? they asked.  My friend said that Islamic moderates were less Muslim than the so-called “radicals.”  He went on to demonstrate this with a Koran.  This was not what they wanted to hear.  They said thank you and promptly put him on a plane and sent him home.

Bush gave the speech—and many more like it thereafter—calling Islam a religion of peace.  At the time it felt like he was trying to convince us and the Islamic world that this was true.  It isn’t.  Our analysts aren’t stupid.  (Their wisdom is a separate question, but they aren’t unintelligent.)  They can connect the same dots that we do.  Their unwillingness to publicly link Islam with terrorism is because they are afraid that doing so will inflame the entire Muslim world.  There are, for instance, 7 million Muslims in France.  Why upset them?  The strategy is to simply call the terrorists “rogues” or “radicals” or to say that “they are not representative of Islam.”  

Moreover, Western media-types (I just had a debate with one) who love to demonstrate just how broadminded and tolerant they are, have aided this strategy by arguing that Islam is no more violent than Christianity.  This is sheer idiocy.  Did Amish blow-up the World Trade Center?  Do Primitive Baptists strap bombs on the faithful and send them into shopping malls to detonate themselves?  Are Presbyterians beheading people who reject the Westminster Confession of Faith?  No.  I would also argue that violence in the Bible is of an altogether different type from what we see in the Koran.  The God of the Bible respects your decision to serve/not serve Him; Allah says that such people (infidels) are to be killed and he promises great reward to those who do the killing.

20th century American foreign policy often operates on the assumption that all conflicts are a result of misunderstandings.  Neville Chamberlain really believed that chatting and backslapping with Hitler in Munich would bring “peace in our time.”  Truman felt that if he could just sit down and talk with “Uncle Joe” Stalin that they could work out their problems.  Neither man could comprehend the fact that Hitler and Stalin understood very well what the West represented and that they wanted to destroy it.  In our own time, this has been the case with the Islamic world.  Perhaps we really can explain to the Iranians that building an atomic bomb isn’t such a good idea.  After all, don’t they understand that those things can blow-up entire cities?  Yes.  They understand.  Yes.  They will want to use it.

Finally, because Western societies have become so secularized, the inability to understand religious motivations is pervasive among Western governments and media.  This is why they so frequently attribute terrorist acts to poverty and lack of education.  Osama bin Laden was both well-educated and filthy rich.  So were a number of the perpetrators of 9-11.  This is conveniently ignored.

I wish to stress the fact that my point isn’t that every Muslim is a terrorist.  Certainly not.  Rather, the point is that most terrorists are Muslim.  That is because Islam does not respect freedom, democracy, women, or other religions and it encourages violence.  It is a graceless religion where one earns his salvation. 

It is a religion born in murder and warfare and it remains true to that history.  Islamic fundamentalists hate the West and everything it stands for.  And before you roundly condemn them for it, it is worth noting that Christians detest (or should) many of the same things: abortion, the animal rights movement, homosexuality, the confusion of sexual roles—in short, the celebration of all that is immoral.  Muslims look at the West and conclude that Westerners don’t know the difference between man and animal, man and woman, and right and wrong.  They have a point.  (Of course, we don’t arrive at the same solutions to these problems.)

Islamic terrorist recruiters highlight these aspects of Western culture and say, join us!  To reach a Western audience, they put recruiting videos online and sit back and wait to see what happens.  Al-Qaeda has been intermittently successful in finding willing ears in Western countries where Muslims have resided in great numbers for generations.  Young males in particular have proved responsive to the message.  This is because Islamic fundamentalism stresses a kind of hyper-masculinity that has appeal to males who feel contemptuous of the Western alternatives they see: a weak, neutered, metro-manish sissy.  In America, Muslims are making inroads with African American males who find Christianity emasculating.  Hence, when someone watches these videos and then shoots up an Army base in Texas, beheads a coworker in Oklahoma, or blows-up a newsstand in the name of Allah, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, et. al. immediately claim credit for the attack even though they may not have had any direct links with the perpetrators.

In Europe, the problem is much greater than it currently is in America.  This is because European immigration policies have been much more liberal where Islamic nations are concerned.  But this is changing.  Under Obama, the US is allowing the influx of Muslims in much greater numbers.  If the United States continues at the current rate, is it really a stretch to say that we will see a spike in terrorism in the US?

Making matters worse, is the Western response to terrorism.  Take the recent bombing of Charlie Hebdo in Paris as an example.  The paper is anti-religious (not just anti-Muslim) in the extreme.  It is scurrilous and vile.  These days, the paper (or images of it) are everywhere in Paris. 

People sport the “Je Suis Charlie” (literally, “I am Charlie”) slogan on t-shirts, bumper stickers, hats, etc. much the same way that Americans wore the “NYPD” emblem after 9-11.  But the comparison stops there.  I was recently doing an interview in Los Angeles and the interviewer indicated that he had Christian friends who proudly proclaimed “Je Suis Charlie.”  I said that he should tell his friends to look at the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.  One of them featured Jesus in a manger with the heading, “Le Petit Jésus Vous Dit Merde!”  Translation: “The Baby Jesus Tells You S—t.”

The last Charlie Hebdo cover before the terrorist attack featured a gay Muhammad embraced in a sloppy kiss with the magazine’s editor.  It is offensive to me and I’m no Muslim.

After saying this on air, one person tweeted me: “Are you saying they [Charlie Hebdo] deserved it?”  Of course not.  How absurd.  People like this want to make it a choice between freedom or implicit support of terrorism.  I reject this false dichotomy.  The people at the magazine deserve our sympathy.  I support their freedom to publish and I unreservedly condemn the terrorists.  But let’s be sensible.  If the The National Enquirer was bombed tomorrow, I wouldn’t suddenly subscribe to the paper and declare “Je Suis National Enquirer.”  In a previous generation, Western symbols of freedom were the Stars and Stripes, Winston Churchill, and Rosie Riveter.  Today it is the The Interview (a sophomoric movie that imagines the assassination of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un), Charlie Hebdo, and gay marriage.  The Islamic world sees the absurdity of this.  They see the shallow and trivial nature of the West, that it has slipped its moorings and stands for nothing so much as immorality, and they fear the West has plans to force this agenda on the Muslim world.  These are all legitimate complaints and concerns that any thoughtful Christian can agree with.

A Christian Response

Christians residing in the West should be careful not to confuse their allegiance to Christ with their allegiance to their country.  It is important that the people who know us understand who and what we represent.  I do not want the Muslims (or anyone else) I meet to think that I endorse the things my president (or Hollywood or CNN or …) endorses simply because I  am an American.  I want them to know that I, too, am outraged by the many injustices and gross perversions of nature now taking place in Western countries.  I want them to know that I believe in the strong and, if need be, forceful defense against terrorists.  Most of all, I want them to know that I believe in the God of the Bible—the True God who is a God of grace and a God of justice.

In my past and recent experiences with Muslims, I have discovered this: they respect strength.  One man recently told me that his Muslim friends were disappointed to discover the “Christian West” wasn’t so Christian after all.  They were hoping to find a Christian faith that put up a fight.  Instead, the manifestations of Christianity Muslims all too often see—and mistake for the genuine article—is a hollow French church; a Church of England that seems like an empty social institution; and an American church that is obsessed with materialism and lacks the backbone to stand against the advance of every vile practice.  They compare this with the terrorists (heroes to them, in many cases) who are willing to give their lives for their god.  The contrast is stark.

I do not share the belief that Christianity in the West is “over,” as Peter Hitchens recently put it.  I believe in a sovereign God who has not called me (or you) to labor in vain.  But we cannot sit on our hands, neglect the full preaching and teaching of the Word, shrink from the bold proclamation and defense of our faith, and expect any result other than the one we are getting.  Christians must find their voices.  They must find their courage.  They must come to the foreground of the culture in sufficient numbers so that those outside of the Christian faith—Muslims, atheists, New Agers, whoever—recognize what Christianity really is and isn’t.  

In conclusion, I believe this: secularism, Europe’s current religion of choice, is a poor bulwark against Islam.  Indeed, it is no defense at all.  

If the West is to survive the Muslim onslaught, Christianity must save it. 

Extra Points
The Fixed Point Institute

Fortifying Hearts & Minds

Fixed Point’s new initiative, The Fixed Point Institute, is designed to identify committed, talented, & thoughtful young Christians and teach them how to proclaim and defend their faith.  Our training ground?  The most secular nation in Europe: France.

For more information on the Institute or to request an application, contact Mary Laura Rogan.
Look Up 3:16

Entertainment Weekly just published their list of “The Best Rejected Commercials in Super Bowl History.”  Our John 3:16 commercial, which ran as a news story all over the country reaching over 100 million people, ranks #29!  This ad, which cost us a small sum relative to what the big corporations pay ($50k vs.  $5-10 million) continues to reach a wide audience 4 years after it originally aired. 

The neat thing about this initiative was our commitment to promote nothing but the hope of the Gospel.  We asked ourselves this: “If we had 30 seconds to speak to 100 million people, what would we say?”  We decided we would want people to reflect on eternity—not beer, potato chips, or soft drinks.  With your help, the Lord blessed our efforts mightily, and that project continues to bear fruit.  Truly, 1 Peter 1:25 is true: “The Word of the Lord endures forever.”

Fun fact: the commercial ran again in limited markets during this year’s Super Bowl. 
You're Invited

Join us for “A Taste of Labastide” at 7 pm on Thursday, March 26th at Latimer House: 2326 2nd Ave North, Birmingham, AL, 35203.  Sample French cuisine while learning about our Christian Heritage Tours in southern France with your guide, Larry Taunton.  This is an open event to all interested parties, so feel free to bring family & friends.  Just RSVP to Hannah Dow.

Host your own “Taste of Labastide” evening:  Traveling with a crowd?  Let us know and we can plan a personalized “Taste of Labastide” in your home for friends and family!  Contact Hannah Dow for more details.
Christian Heritage Tours

Join Us.

According to The Economist, France is the most secular country in Western Europe.  We invite you to consider France’s rich Christian heritage and how that heritage has been quietly abandoned.  What do we see of our future in Europe’s past?  Let us show you.

For tour dates & more information, contact Hannah Dow.
Men's Study This Spring

Mark your calendars!  Join us for an eight week study at Latimer House in Birmingham with a full breakfast each morning.  Our spring series will take a look at Great Christian Men in History.

Cost is $35.  Online registration opens in March.  More details coming soon at fixed-point.org.
Shermer/Taunton Debate

Michael Shermer of Skeptic Magazine & Fixed Point’s own Larry Taunton square off in Seattle in April 2015.  Stay tuned for more information.
One Last Thing

Finally, we thought you might like this quotation from one of the UK’s largest daily papers, The Daily Mail.  It is in regards to an interview I just did in London.

“Larry Taunton demonstrated how wrong those of us in Britain are who think that all Southerners in the U.S.—especially Evangelicals—are unintelligent yokels and bigots.  Certainly Mr. Taunton fits neither of these categories.”
While this comment is very kind, it says quite a lot about the author of it, namely, that he is something of an uneducated bigot himself.  All Southern evangelicals are unintelligent yokels and bigots?  Well, score one for our side.  As Dan McCrary, one of my board members put it, “I think he overlooked the option of an intelligent yokel.”

Grace and Peace,

Larry Taunton
Executive Director
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