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Religion and Politics

Jim Bowman accepts my comment regarding attacks on Christians in the name of Islam ". I am afraid that both religious differences and hatred of America are involved": "While I tend to make a distinction between purely theological/philosphical, and turf/power/culture issues, this is a complicated subject, and the lines between the two are often blurred, granted. We can't always know what is in the heart of another.

In the Southern Philippines, three Islamic groups, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and the Abu Sayyaf group (ASG), agitate for everything from an autonomous region to complete independence for portions of Mindanao/Sulu. The MILF and MNLF, while given to violence, are nonetheless given credibility by the Philippine government in negotiations.

In September of 1992, the ASG killed three people (all Filipinos) in our DXAS radio station in Zamboanga for broadcasting in a Muslim dialect (Tausug). Tausug imams themselves had approved of our broadcast as it was respectful of Islam. Is the ASG truly Islamic in the religious sense? They have indiscriminately killed pastors, priests, foreign tourists and their own Filipino citizens. I agree with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who has called them "bandits," with nominal religious overtones.

In Banda Aceh, Sumatra, threats of death has caused suspension of our short wave Christian broadcast in Aceh(nese). The program had existed for some time as a gentle presentation of Christian values, until one day the producer decided to step up the campaign and speak of the Christian view regarding Christ himself. Then came the threats to the Jakarta office. This is a common paradigm; many of our Islamic audiences will respect Christian wisdom, but they turn ugly at the idea that "Christ is Lord." This is more along the lines of a clash based primarily on religion.

I wonder sometimes if we takes seriously the familiar quote: "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."

Ronald Hilton - 3/30/02