An encounter with Bill Muehlenberg UPDATED

UPDATE: So my comment got approved, sort of:

Talking about making assumptions…..

Lee Herridge

That is the sum total of what put after moderation but I got a reply:

Thanks again Lee

Sorry, but let me cut you off there. I was going to run with this and other comments of yours, but I have learned over the years that sometimes it is wise to just wait a few days. In doing that I often find a radical disconnect between someone’s initial friendly comments, and what is to follow. And sure enough, I wait barely a day and I see you have already shown your true colours, with a full-length attack on me on your website. So now that we all know where you are coming from, I simply refer you to my commenting rules. I will let you do your thing on your own website, instead of taking up space on mine. That way you can feel free to launch all the attacks on me you want, and on anyone else who dares to differ with you.

Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

It is a bit of a weird reply. He was going to run with all my comments? He didn’t have any trouble replying to the first one, nor immediately replying to anyone else (it looks like he puts his response after moderation). All of a sudden Bill is short of a reply? A little strange.

Apparently I breached the commenting rules, presumably for attacking him. However, apart from telling him to not be too presumptuous, I didn’t make any statement about what sort of person he is so I’m not sure how Bill defines an attack on his person.

Nor did I think a simple question, does Bill practice what he preaches, constituted an attack. Supposedly these are my ‘true colours’. Go figure.

I did reply but my comment was deleted (as was every other comment I put up):

You’re right Bill. My true colours have been revealed. I’m a politically aware, conservative Christian blogger that questioned whether my comments were going to get a fair hearing on your own blog. I asked that very question so I’ll be happy to update that post to include your reply.

I am disappointed that you felt the need to completely block my other comments since they agreed with your points more or less. I wouldn’t have thought you to be a sensitive soul so I didn’t think that disagreeing with one point on a four point blog entry counted as being particularly argumentative.

My own blog entry (which I would encourage you all to have a look at to make your own mind up on) hardly constituted a full attack since I accepted that I might have overstepped the mark. I accept the possibility that maybe you hadn’t gotten around to moderating them. If you felt hard done by, feel free to come over and make your voice heard. I certain didn’t see it as an attack on you so I apologise if it came across that way.

To be perfectly honest, I would have just emailed you to straighten this out but I couldn’t find an email address and I didn’t know how long my comments might dwell in comment moderation limbo. I must say I am a little flattered that you would bother to read my blog so I thank you for that.

I should at this time say that I probably should have waited a week or so to see if Bill was going to publish my comments so Bill, if you’re reading, I apologise for running to my blog and posting my thoughts so quickly. It was a bit impetuous so if you’re offended, I apologise.

Nevertheless, it does seem to stand that those who disagree with Bill ‘The Man’ Meuhlenberg find their voices heard no more than once, which is a real shame. When opinion stands unchallenged, it becomes an echo chamber and all the yes men become a cacophony of emptiness. Good ideas are strengthened by contrary views, not weakened. Let’s pray that Bill might come to see it so.

I’ll keep you updated readers.

————————————————————-

I received an email from a friend yesterday that was quoting a blog entry by Bill Meuhlenberg, a conservative Christian blogger. I disagreed with Bill’s assessment of the ACT Government approving of the construction of a mosque (Bill saying that Jon Stanhope was trying to eradicate the Christian faith), telling my friend why I didn’t think it was an issue. I thought I would also go to the source and tell Bill directly why I thought it wasn’t an issue. Here is my initial comment to the blog:

I hardly think that it is inappropriate that the ACT Government allows for Muslims to build mosques, nor that it is a result of some war against Christianity, and I don’t think it helpful for Christians to portray it as such. If we have true freedom of religion in this country, it should mean that Muslims have as much right to build mosques as Christians have to build churches. There have been periods of time where the state backed the exclusivity of Christian religion (thankfully never in Australia) and it has been disastrous for the gospel whenever it happened, as inevitably the state turns the church against those who preach the gospel.

We overcome the lies of Islam, not by stopping them from preaching their message, but allowing the Holy Spirit to work powerfully through the preaching of the gospel. Despite Jon Stanhope’s obvious Green-Left agenda, we shouldn’t condemn something that isn’t actually wrong. By getting into the habit of condemning every small thing, we’re going to end up fighting proxy wars over every inconsequential issue and making no headway in the issues that actually matter.

Overall, I didn’t think it was that radical. Bill isn’t the first Christian I have heard say that Islam is going to take over the nation and we should stop Muslims building mosques. As I have said previously, I think freedom of religion is something Christians should guard for all people because it is a freedom worth protecting. I knew I wasn’t going to get total agreement initially (especially given that everyone else was stuck in some serious groupthink) but I thought that I could maybe get some grudging acceptance through some vigorous discussion. Here is Bill’s reply:

Thanks Lee

Sorry, but actually you are quite wrong here. This is no “small thing” at all as you cavalierly put it. It means everything to a Muslim to establish a foothold in the land of the infidels through the building of a mosque. They regard this as a very significant step in taking over a nation of kuffar to fully submit to the reign of Allah. Sadly many people have very little understanding of creeping sharia, and have not bothered to read the Koran, the Hadith, and the Sira. Until they do, they will be clueless as to the real threat we face.

Respectfully, to say that concerns about this is nothing more than an “inconsequential issue and making no headway in the issues that actually matter” reveals that you really have rather limited understanding of what Islam is about, and you are rather ignorant about their long-standing goal of a universal caliphate.

And by the way, I will be most happy to have Australia allow mosques here as soon as Saudi Arabia allows churches to be built there.

Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

Ok. I can deal with the fact Bill is putting words in my mouth, so to speak. I didn’t actually say it is a ‘small thing’ to allow Muslims to build a mosque in the ACT so I couldn’t have put it cavalierly. And I can agree with Bill that some Muslims would see the building of a mosque as establishing a foothold in the land of kuffar.

However, I don’t appreciate being treated as an idiot (which is the opposite of being treated ‘respectfully’). I have spent some time reading up about Islam and I have a better than average understanding of their beliefs. I spend a lot of time reading about international politics so I know of those Islamic organisations that are dedicated to turning the whole world into one giant Sharia state.

So, I think to myself, I will put this guy back in his place with a little wit (unlikely – Ed) and tell him to back off a bit. I’m sure Bill feels like he’s in the trenches all the time so I’ll be try to explain to him why he shouldn’t be so presumptuous about my thoughts and knowledge. So here is my reply:

Talking about making assumptions. How do you know for a fact that I am not aware of the universal caliphate that some (and I emphasise some) Muslims want established? How do you know I am unaware of the activities of groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir, who would see democracy swept away? In fact Bill, you know nothing about me or what I know about the aspirations of Muslims around the world. So I’d prefer if you didn’t assume much about me thanks.

The reality is that Islam is not some monolithic, Illuminati-like organisation that plots the overthrow of the West. In fact, those who want a caliphate (by no means a universal aspiration in the Middle East) haven’t managed to get one going in the Middle East so I doubt we’ll see Australia as part of one any time soon.

And while Saudi Arabia (or Iran or a bunch of other Middle Eastern countries) doesn’t allow the building of churches, there are a bunch of Eastern European countries that essentially back the Eastern Orthodox church in its suppression of Protestants and there are Catholic countries that do the same. If it is a question of equality, why aren’t you up in arms over them?

But above all of these points, and the most important one, is that Muslims being allow to build mosques is the necessary implication of freedom of religion. If we are to live in a truly free country, others (Muslims, Jews, Satanists, Hindus) should have the same rights as Christians to build places of worship to conduct their affairs, which is what we see in Jon Stanhope’s press release. Australia has a duty to protect of the rights of all to worship freely, even if some of them want to undermine the country. The state has no place in picking some religions to sanction and others to ban.

The Christian response to lies is the preaching of the gospel, which by God’s power change the minds and hearts of even the most wretched sinner. Political agitation, like what you imply should be done, not is pretty worthless but it also undermines our own freedom to worship as we please. If the state is allowed to come down on Islam, why not on Christianity, the stench of death to those who aren’t saved (2 Cor 2:16)?

I thought my reply was firm and definitely not abusive. I didn’t call him names and I spelt out why I though he overstepped the mark. Further, I thought the bulk of my comment addressed Bill’s reply more than adequately. However there is one snag:

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

No dramas, I thought. I’ll wait for a bit. Oooh, as I remembered a good quote, so I posted it:

I love this quote and it is a warning that so many conservative, politically minded Christian fail to heed:

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety – Benjamin Franklin.

We shouldn’t trade our liberty for a false and fleeting sense of security.

I thought that surely, even if Bill thought I was a bit too rough on the first comment, the second was perfectly fair and reasonable. Someone made a comment on separation of church and state and so I commented on that too. Still, no acceptance of those comments. I thought maybe it just is that Bill hasn’t gotten around to it yet. But no, as a further comment was accepted (which unsurprisingly joins in with the groupthink already going on in the comments section of Bill’s posts).

Oh well, I thought. You win some and you lose some. So I thought I’d comment on other posts to see if it just this one I’ll be ignored on and others I wouldn’t. No, even a friendly, agreeable comment still awaits acceptance.

Which leaves you to ask: does a guy who rails against secularists for their opposition to a Christian’s right to express their beliefs have double standards? Does he criticise others but fail to listen to the criticism of those on his side?

We’ll see if that is true readers and I’ll keep you up to date.

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