Driving to the grocery store today, thinking about the latest polls showing that the idiot is going to get a pass on Katrina from the poorly educated public, I heard a story on NPR that made me vomit on my shirt. Figuratively. So, quite naturally, I wanted to share it with my friends at Booman, in case you missed it, and might like to vomit, figuratively, on your own shirts.
It is from “The World” with Lisa Mullins. It is a BBC broadcast that NPR picks up, if I am not mistaken.
Christianity in Iraq
The link is here, if you would like to listen.
I guess the first volley of puke started when I had to check the readout on my car stereo. I wasn’t sure if I had mistakenly turned in the 700 Club or Jack Van Impe presents, instead of NPR. Because, their first interviewee was a woman, Janet Johnston, saying some pretty bizarro shit.
Host Lisa Mullins: Iraq has a small population of Christians. Many are Catholics. But, in the north some Muslim Kurds are turning toward evangelical Christianity. These converts say they believe Jesus will help them achieve their dream of forming a Kurdish State. And they’re also hoping for help from their Christian brethren in the United States. Correspondent Jessie Graham reports from Sulaymania.
Jessie Graham: Janet Johnston is a Christian missionary from Kansas. She made her first trip to northern Iraq eleven years ago. She says just before she arrived in the Muslim country, she had a vision involving the biblical story of David and Goliath.
Janet Johnston: I just felt God showing me that, you know, Islam was the last of the giants, ah, to come down. That the church is David, but that the stone that’s in his sling is the Kurdish people. Because even though they’re a small Gideon’s army, God’s going to use them to rip the heart out of Islam.
Jessie Graham: Evangelical Christians were banned under Saddam. When Kurds gained control in northern Iraq in 1991, Christian organizations began arriving here. The fall of Saddam brought another wave of evangelicals. Johnston is one of the original missionaries. She now lives in Sulaymania. She hopes the new evangelicals will help bring the Kurds back to what she believes are their biblical roots.
Janet Johnston: I feel that God started everything here. When you see northern Iraq and Kurdistan, and the two rivers, you know, I believe that the Garden of Eden is here somewhere. And God is a God of order. And He has just come full circle.
I stopped listening to NPR about a month and a half ago to do my New York Times experiment. But, fuck, I didn’t think they were going to turn completely Christian immediately after Bush turned the helm of public broadcasting over to his wing-nut buddies. Did a Christian missionary just acknowledge a vision from God on my formerly progressive network? Did she say something about God wanting to rip the heart out of Islam? Is she actually searching for the Garden of Eden on her mission? Holy fuck. Maybe this really is a crusade we are fighting. I thought Al Qaeda was the psycho-fundamentalist organization we had to watch out for, but I was apparently wrong.
I figured I might have the wrong channel. Or, maybe, the report was going to get more balanced. Well. Not so much, as it turns out.
I rolled down the window to puke out my imaginary dinner when I heard this:
Jessie Graham: The six elders [chanting in the background] of the Free Evangelical Church of Kurdistan meet in the tiny living room of a Kurdish convert. They close their eyes and sing a Kurdish rendition of a hymn, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” [More singing in earnest.] These evangelicals don’t refer to themselves as Christians. They call themselves believers, to distinguish themselves from Iraq’s Chaldeans and Assyrian Catholics. The sixty members meet in private homes, in what they call “cell groups.” [Kurdish man speaking or praying in background.] Most people here tolerate the Christian missionaries, but they don’t trust them. Some of the protestant converts keep their faith secret from their families. They’re worried they’ll be ostracized. Thirty-five year old Ari Ali says he’s hoping for a day when he can be open about his faith.
Ari Ali: There are no inner freedom in our lives. We cannot shouting about the Jesus. So we pray for God to help this community, to help this new government in Iraq, to help us. To give us more freedom.
Jessie Graham: Church elders estimate that there are five-hundred new converts throughout the Kurdish north. The converts say they associate their former religion, Islam, with Arabs and with Saddam, who tried to exterminate the Kurds. They believe their ancestors were Christians who were forced to convert to Islam by Arab invaders. They say that if the Kurds had remained Christians, they would have their own state by now. Ali says they see U.S. President George Bush as a brother in Christ.
Ari Ali: God uses George Bush to come to here, to send his army to here, to save Iraq. To save us.
Holy fuck. Apparently chimp-boy isn’t the only person to whom God has been speaking. Ali thinks God put Bush here to take out Iraq, too. Am I the only fucking person on the planet whom God is not contacting on a regular basis? Fuck me.
Now I am thinking this is like a radio broadcast designed to make me think I am insane. Some kind of CIA psy-ops, directed at me, because I have written too many radicalized things on Booman lately. They want me to wig before I get to Washington, D.C. on the 24th. Right?
Well, it is not all fun and games at Camp Christian, in northern Iraq. They can’t just sing Kumbaya My Lord all day long.
Jessie Graham: The Kurdish converts say their new faith is linked to their quest for independence. When Pastor Arom-Daroud was on a recent trip to South Africa, he brought a Kurdish flag to every church he visited. In one church, the local minister put up an Iraqi flag, which includes the Islamic phrase, Allah Akbar.
Arom-Daroud: We told him, we want change this flag, because by this flag, the Arabic kill thousands, eh, Kurdish. Right I am a Christian, but also I am Kurdish, and I want by Christianity to change the Kurdish to new country.
Jessie Graham: Change will not come easy. Under Iraqi law, it’s illegal to convert from Islam to another religion. Muslim Sharia law also doesn’t recognize such conversions. And the Catholic Church in Iraq doesn’t view the converts as Christians. So they’re not officially recognized by the State. Mohammad Achmed-Gaznagi is a Muslim scholar and Kurdish minister of religious affairs. He says evangelicals are not welcome here.
Mohammad Gaznagi: [Translated] Because they are not Christians, they have not privileges, and I do my best to prevent any church, or anything they might do.
Jessie Graham: Despite the official opposition, the converts say they have allies in the government who are helping them to rent a building for their meetings. They’ve already established prayer groups, book stores, and radio stations in several Kurdish cities. They’re hoping that with time, and prayer, Iraqi Kurds will not only come to accept them, they’ll also follow them. For “The World,” this is Jesse Graham in Sulaymania, Iraq.
I’m going to fucking bed before the entire world is over-run by fundamentalism. What the fuck do they do to unrepentant heretics in this century, anyway? Sentence them to watch people totally fuck up the world in God’s name — the sole methods of viewing being via television, radio, and the Internet — until the sinner tears out his or her hairs by the roots and sobs maddeningly for the end of times. I would click my fucking ruby Red slippers together to escape this fucking madness, but it would only take me back to fucking Kansas, where I’d have to learn about the Intelligent asshole who Designed all this wonderment.
Bah-fucking-humbug. And good day.