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Swarming 01 - Introduction Swarming 02 - Vision

Boko Haram 3


More articles related to Boko Haram in Nigeria.

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Boko Haram 2


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The Mystery of the Veil: the other side


Jaim Booth Cundy, “The Mystery of the Veil,” Psychology Today. Cundy takes a look at the growing ban-the-veil laws in Europe and explores the issue from the other side: what about women who freely choose to wear the veil as an expression of their religious faith? What is the difference between forcing a woman to wear a veil, and forcing her not to wear one?

Chillingly to me: a woman who repeatedly insists on wearing a veil in public can, in Belgium, be forced to attend re-education classes.

Consider Ed Stetzer’s related comment (on the banning of mosques): “My concern is simple: what you ‘use’ on Muslims now will will probably be ‘used’ on Christians later.”

See also “Belgium ban on face veil comes into force,” Al Jazeera, July 24.


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On Iftar waste and ideas of bounty in the midst of a fast


Muby Asger, “What a waste: Iftar excess,” Gulf News examines wasted food around the iftar.

Background: Iftar is the breaking of the Ramadan fast. What most fasters do is fast during the day and then, after sundown, they break their fast with an extravagant meal.

Although the article is mostly focused on the waste, there are some intriguing cultural notes inside the article. “Contrary to what the norm is during daylight hours, this is a month of extravagance when it comes to iftar food. Culturally, people expect their iftar table to be packed with a variety of dishes. It’s irrelevant whether they will taste every dish they have ordered. The point seems to be to have so much food available that one is spoilt for choice. People expect bountiful meals during this month…”

Thus, in a month that is intended to be for fasting, it ends up being a cultural exercise in bounty. How else does this play out? If you have experience of living in a Muslim area during Ramadan, what do you see?

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Muslims, non-Muslims dislike each other: the church should be the 10% to shift this


In “Issue: Muslims, non-Muslims dislike each other” (The Jakarta Post), we learn what most people would think is fairly obvious. The study was conducted by Pew and found that there have been some improvements but negative views of each other persist.

Whenever we have a culture that promotes a negative stereotype of someone else, we will eventually have outlier behavior. The outlier behavior may eventually be violent, and the superempowered outlier can have a great destructive capacity.

Yet we’ve also read that just 10% of the population can be enough to shift attitudes.

The Bible tells us those who are righteous and who follow Christ should care for the widow, the orphan, the poor, and the foreigner, and we should love our neighbors and our enemies. The church ought to be the 10% which shifts cultural attitudes from dislike to charitable love.

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Carl Medearis: Why evangelicals should stop evangelizing


Carl Meadearis writes a guest post on CNN’s Belief Blogs. No, he’s not calling for evangelicals to stop talking about Jesus. That doesn’t stop him from making some very good points. My take: when we think of “evangelization” and “conversion” as “us vs them” and “who’s in or out” and a score-board kind of conversion, rather than “evangelization” as “sharing good news” with an emphasis on whole-life discipleship rather than one-time hand-raising, we get onto a very slippery slope. Worth the five minutes or so it takes to read the article.

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Boko Haram


A new fundamentalist Islamic group is becoming well known in northern Nigeria. It has a very long official name but locals call it “Boko Haram,” a name which apparently means something on the order of “Western or non-Islamic education is a sin.” It seeks sharia law in northern Nigeria and has been active since 2002, but became well known internationally after violent attacks in 2010 and 2011. Boko Haram rejects virtually everything to do with Western thinking.

In addition to attacks on various governmental buildings and people, Boko Haram has bombed beer gardens and on July 10 bombed the All Christian Fellowship Church in Suleja, Niger State. After attacks in which 40 were killed, June saw a strong military response on the part of the government, and thousands were displaced as they fled the area. Much of northern Nigeria is now afraid.

For more on this group, read:



Mistaken Monotheism: Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?


It is perhaps one of the more controversial and challenging subjects, and not one which I can claim to be an expert on. But today The Gospel Coalition has up a post called “Mistaken Monotheism,” by Chris Bruno, which takes on the issue in light of a new book by Miroslav Volf, “Allah: A Christian Response.”

Bruno thinks that without God’s self-revelation, it is impossible to know him. Fair enough. But he goes on to assert that, if you are worshiping a God other than through the path of Biblical revelation, either God is “unknown” (as he was to the Athenians, Acts 17), or we add our own revelation and make him a false God.

Volf contends that Muslims, Jews and Christians worship the same God (albeit in different ways) by arguing that if Muslims and Christians do not worship the same God, neither do Jews and Christians. Bruno says no, because Jews and Christians share Biblical revelation. Without the revelation, you’re not speaking about the same God.

Bruno uses an analogy from football in which two people are speaking about the same team and a player by the name of Roy Williams–but through the course of the conversation we discover there were actually two players named Roy Williams, and of course each of the two people discussing them were talking about a different Roy Williams. By analogy, Muslims, Christians and Jews all claim to worship “God”–but in reality Jews & Christians worship one and Muslims worship another.

Personally, I think Bruno’s argument and analogy breaks down for the simple fact that there is only one God. So it’s not like there are “two” Gods, both named “Roy”, and we just happen to be talking about the wrong one.

Now, it would be different if we were talking about an obviously made-up God: Zeus, for example, or some human who supposedly became divine. But we’re not. Each of these monotheistic faiths claim to be worshipping the God who is uncreated, the God who always is, was and shall be, who is all-powerful, and is responsible for the creation of the world. Each claims there is only one such God.

Now, we can argue that there can’t be two “only Gods” and therefore one must not really exist, and our image of him is false. Bruno thinks that if someone worships a God who is based on alternative revelation, we can’t affirm that person is worshipping the God of the Bible.

I think, rather, that someone can worship the “only God”–just not do it in the right way. As an example, consider the Queen of England. My brother-in-law is British. If he were to approach the Queen of England for an audience, he would probably know precisely how one goes about doing that, and how to be “heard” by the Queen. If, on the other hand, I were passing the Queen’s procession on the road, and I darted up and said, “Hey, Miss Queen, how’s ya doin? Listen, let me tell you about something–” I’d probably find this was not the appropriate way to approach and I would not be heard.

In this illustration there is only one Queen of England. Whether I have the correct idea of who she is, and how to approach her, does not detract from her existence. That I know about her or don’t know about her doesn’t detract from her existence either.

Muslims, Christians and Jews are in a unique position because they claim to know, worship and follow a God that they have not created, who is not like them, who is all-knowing, all-present, and all-powerful, uncreated and the ultimate judge of the world. I believe Christians have the only true revelation and that only through Christ can anyone be saved. But that doesn’t mean that Muslims aren’t keen to know the same God that I worship.

Bruno says we know God only because he has revealed himself to us through Christ. I agree. But just because a person doesn’t know God, and yet tries to worship him, doesn’t mean he’s not worshipping God. I think he is worshipping the right God–just not in the right way, and without knowledge. It’s as if he’s in the position of the Samaritans whom Jesus said “worshipped what they did not know.” Yet the Samaritan woman in John 4 knew enough to know the Messiah was coming, and to recognize him when he revealed himself to her.

Muslims crave God. Who will reveal Jesus to them?

Additional reading on this subject

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Relatives of Islamic leaders attracted to Christianity


It’s long been whispered, and this is one of the first public articles I’ve seen on the subject: The Iranian Christian News Agency on “Family members of the Islamic Leaders are attracted to Chrsitainity“:

“One of the greatest concerns of the Islamic Republic leaders is the ever-increasing interest of the Iranian population, inside and outside of Iran, to Christianity and this interest has reached the family members of these leaders.”

H/T Karen Hatley.

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Trends in North Sudan: War, and us ignoring them


We can all celebrate the new freedom for South Sudan. It’s a great thing–for them. The way forward will be difficult and perhaps tense at times, but at least they will have a chance. However, the downside of this is: the majority of those opposed to the policies of the north have now left. This means that the north is now free to fully implement its policies in its remaining territory, to the detriment (perhaps) of the small minority remaining there who disagree with Khartoum.

The place to watch in this regard is the Nuba Mountains.

Read the rest of this post »

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Muslim Demographics in America


Robert Hunt goes against the old drum that Muslims are taking over America. And he’s absolutely right: It ain’t gonna happen–not in America, nor in Europe. Stop beating the drum. Stop fearing an Islamic invasion. Reach out in love instead.


Investigating Global Religious Dynamics of Christians and Muslims


A statistic I have often cited when speaking about the status of world evangelization is this: that for the past century, Christianity has been stagnant at about 33% of the world. We know that the fastest growing world religion is not Christianity (growing at 1.36% p.a. in AD 2000) but rather Islam (growing at 2.13% p.a. in AD 2000). (I know that we like to compare the growth of evangelicals with that of Islam, but that, in my opinion, is rather like comparing apples to oranges.)

However, saying that the church is stagnant at 33% globally covers over the vast changes that are happening regionally within Christianity, and the reasons for those changes. Likewise, saying Islam is the fastest growing religion worldwide also masks some of the reasons for this. The reasons for these changes are important, because they help us shape our response.

For this purpose I am going to use the AD 2000 statistics from World Christian Trends. There are some more recent updates, but WCT has these statistics in Table 1-2 for every continent in the world and it is available fairly inexpensively for those who wish to explore this further.


There are two drivers of growth in both Christianity and Islam: natural and conversion. “Natural” growth is not the result of any evangelistic influence within the church: it is basically births in Christian homes, minus deaths, plus Christian immigrants, minus Christian emigrants. Unfortunately I do not have ready to hand anything that separates demographic growth—births minus deaths—from immigration growth. This would be a very interesting statistic and trend to delve deeper into, and perhaps later we will. “Conversion” growth, on the other hand, is conversions minus defections.

These numbers are fairly easily computed. We know, for example, what the AD 2000 and AD 2010 population of Christians is, so we can compute the annual growth rate based on this. And, we know what the global population growth rate is. But of course the natural, secular population growth rate does not have any conversion factor—so we know what the average global population growth rate is for demographics alone. We extract this from the Christian growth rate and the balance is the conversion factor.

Globally, each year, the number of Christians grows by an average of 25.2 million people. Of these, 22.7 million are “natural” and just 2.5 million are “conversion.” Globally, it appears the vast majority of Christian growth has little to do with the conversion efforts of the church.

Islam is in a similar situation: globally, it grows on average by 22.5 million. So, it’s actually adding fewer total people each year: and of these, some 21.7 million are “natural” and just 0.8 million are conversions.

The reason that the growth rate of Islam is faster than the growth rate of Christianity (2.1% for Islam vs 1.3% for Christianity) is that Islam is smaller: in AD 2000 it was roughly 1.1 billion people to Christianity’s 1.9 billion. But, it is adding nearly as many people every year as Christianity is.


The African continent is growing at a rate of about 2.47% p.a. Christianity is growing at 2.68%, so right away we can see that Christianity is increasing its share in the population. Part of this is “natural”: 7.9 million new births per year. Part is “conversion”: a net of 0.4 million new converts per year.

Islam as of AD 2000 was actually in a slight decline in Africa as a whole (although clearly dominating the northern regions). It was growing at 2.37% p.a. – both less than Christianity and the continental population growth rate. It was adding about 6.5 million new births per year, and making just 0.1 million converts per annum on average. Although Islam is gaining strength in certain key areas of Africa, in the continent as a whole Christianity clearly has the (slight!) upper hand.

Also note the African growth rate of Christianity (2.68%) is higher than the global growth rate of Christianity by a significant margin: thus clearly the church is becoming more African. Something like one-third of Christian births and one-quarter of its net conversions are African!


Here the reverse of Africa is true. The Asian continent has an annual growth rate of 1.48%: much slower. It has many more people: over 3.5 billion compared to Africa’s 0.7 billion.

Muslims are the largest religious block in Asia: numbering some 751 million in AD 2000. They were adding about 15.6 million per year in new converts—15.1 million “naturally” and 0.4 million through conversion. Islam’s growth rate of 2.1% is greater than the continental growth rate, but less than the Christian growth rate of 2.3%.

However, Christians are only adding about 6 million new believers each year—4 million from births and a staggering 2.3 million through conversion. Globally, there is a net of just 2 million new converts per year, but the conversion rate is exceeded in Africa and Asia. The global number of conversions is offset by losses on other continents.

The bottom line is that there is a staggering conversion rate in Asia, but Muslims are still outgrowing Christians by nearly 2.5 to 1 through births alone. Christianity is may be traveling down the highway at a faster speed, but they have a long way to go to catch up with the Muslims who are far out ahead.


Europe’s population is growing at just 0.9% p.a. The world is progressively becoming less European. Much of the European population decline is the result of the catastrophic demographic crash in the East.

Christianity with 560 million members is the top religion in Europe (although of course there is much debate about how many “Christians” are truly followers of Christ—a debate we won’t focus on here). Christianity adds about 0.9 million believers yearly—0.6 million through births and 0.3 million through conversions.

Islam’s far smaller numbers, with some 31 million total, are growing far more slowly. They are adding about 6,000 new babies per year, yet a staggering 229,000 through conversion. This gives them a growth rate of 0.7% p.a.—some seven times faster than Christianity. Nevertheless, as with Christians in Asia, Muslims in Europe have a long way to go before they come anywhere close to dominating the European scene (although they can be strong in certain areas, as they have proven).

Latin America

As in Europe, Christians with nearly 0.5 billion members are the top religion. They add 7.4 million new children per year—but they have a net loss in “conversions” of 250,000 per year. This is simply the result of massive losses amongst nominal unaffiliated Christians who defect to become non-religious, as well as losses from Roman Catholics. Protestants and others are gaining members through conversion.

Islam, on the other hand, is adding just 20,000 members per year “naturally” and some 9,000 through conversion. It has just 1.6 million members and is not really a threat to Christianity any time soon.

North America

Christianity is the top religion in North America, making up about 85% of the population. It adds 2.3 million new babies—but loses a net of 0.3 million per year through defection. So each year, Christianity in North America is gaining just 2 million.

Islam is growing twice as fast as Christianity in terms of its annual growth rate. However, its numbers are still vastly small. Christians made up some 260 million in AD 2000, while Muslims made up just 4.4 million. They add about 37,000 “naturally” and 26,000 through conversion. In total, Islam grows by just 63,000 per year.


Finally, in the Pacific, Christians are again in the top category. The 22 million Christians in the Pacific add 0.3 million per year: 340,000 of these are babies, but there is a net defection rate of 30,000 yearly.

Islam has very small numbers: about 0.3 million total. It adds about 3,000 babies and 5,000 converts per year.


In the places where Islam has a fast conversion growth rate, its total population numbers are nothing to fear. The demographic growth of Christians in these areas far outweighs the conversion growth of Islam at this point. Rather than being afraid, it is time to work from a position of Evangelical strength to evangelize the Muslims who come to these shores.

In Asia, Christians certainly need to be a little more discerning, since Muslims vastly outnumber believers. However, it is clear that Christians are being bold there: their conversion rate is nearly six times that of Islam (although, obviously, not all of those converts are from Islam). The difficult point is that Muslim babies vastly outnumber the religious growth of all other individual religious groups. The only group really close to Islam in Asia is Hinduism.

Africa is perhaps the place where Christianity and Islam are most directly comparable. There, on a continental level, Christianity’s natural growth rates and conversion rates just barely squeak past those of Islam. Significant evangelistic effort is needed here.

Yes, Islam globally is growing faster than Christianity. But the vast majority of the numbers it adds on a yearly basis are babies, not converts. Christians should not fear Muslim conversion rates. We should rather stand boldly on truth and reach out in love to proclaim the Kingdom of God.


Read More: The Pew Report on the Future of the Global Muslim Population


LinkJournal: Europe and the Burqa 2011


4/29 NYT: Belgium: Parliament Passes Burqa Ban. The lower house backed the law overwhelmingly; it must pass the senate.

4/25 Eurasia Review: France’s Burqa Ban: French Secularism Or Colonial Mindset? Questioning whether banning the burqa (worn by fewer than 2,000 of the 5 million Muslims in France) is to reimpose republican values or seek political gain.

4/21 CSM: Letter to the Editor from French Ambassador. A response to a commentary piece about France’s new law banning the burqa and comparing it to the Holocaust.

4/21 NPR: France’s Burqa Ban Adds To Anti-Muslim Climate. How Muslims and French feel about the ban.

4/20 CSM: French Burqa Ban: A Step We Muslims Should Welcome. One moderate Muslim’s take.

4/18 Eurasia Review: France: Face Veils And Secular Values – OpEd. Iman Kurdi writes about hypocrisy and the ban.

4/15 Radio Free Europe: Podcast: Debating France’s Contentious New Veil Ban; Russia’s Forgotten ‘Butterfly Children’. A podcast debate of the issue.

4/14 CSM: France’s burqa ban: Has Europe forgotten the gas chambers? A controversial op/ed piece that generated a response from the French Ambassador.

4/14 RealClearReligion: Burqa Ban Is a Naked Assault on Freedom. An op/ed blog article about the assault on “tolerance.”

4/13 RealClearReligion: The Absence of Evidence for Banning Burqas. “What happens when we ban burqas anyway?”

4/13 Guardian: Can burqa ban stand in Strasbourg? Or, would the burqa ban stand up at the European court.

4/13 CSM: France’s burqa ban: 5 ways Europe is targeting Islam. The Dutch Burqa ban, the Swiss minaret ban, Belgium’s burqa ban, Britain’s mega-mosque sidelined.

4/13 CBN: Muslim Women Protest French Burqa Ban. “This is an attack on my freedom of conscience, my freedom of religion, my freedom simply of being a woman, so this is a really big attack on my own life.”

4/13 Time: France’s Burqa Ban: A Dysfunctional Law Begins. “Much noise, little impact.”

4/12 People’s Daily: Bahrain bloc condemns veil ban in France. "This is a violation of international laws and individuals have right to freedom of religion. This ban on veil was approved by French parliament last year and is the latest tool used against Islam and Muslims."

4/12 Al Arabiya: Defying burqa ban in France. “But Alexis Marsan, a public order official, said the women were not arrested for wearing the niqab but rather for disturbing the peace in a protest.”

4/12 Guardian: French protests over burqa ban. “Several French police unions yesterday warned that the law was almost impossible to enforce and that they would not make it a priority to stop women in full veils walking down the street.”

4/11 Straits Times: French full veil ban goes into force. “Many Muslim leaders have said they support neither the veil nor the law banning it.”

4/11 VOA: France’s Veil Ban Goes into Effect. “Someya says it breaks her heart to take off the face veil because it is a statement of her Islamic faith. She says she adopted it six months ago as a personal choice.”

4/11 SiFy: France detains two women as burqa ban takes effect. “Police admitted they were enforcing the ban ‘extremely cautiously’ because of fears of provoking violence. Police have already been warned not to arrest women in or around mosques, and ‘citizen’s de-veilings’ are also banned.”

4/11 UPI: French veil ban comes into force. “French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose government had pushed the law, says it’s necessary to guarantee security, uphold France’s secular ideals and protect women from suppression. Critics, however, have accused Sarkozy of trying to regain voter support with a populist move.”

4/11 SiFy: British Muslims arrested in France burqa ban protest. “British Muslim radicals were among at least 61 people arrested in Paris for illegally protesting against the French Government’s ban on the burqa.”

4/11 Islam in Europe: France: Burqa banned. Video from Al Jazeera.

4/11 Al Jazeera: French face veil ban comes into force. Summary article.

4/11 Eurasia Review: France: Full Veil Ban Comes Into Force. Summary article.

4/11 Reuters: France starts ban on full-face veil. “’It’s so stupid what they’ve done with this law, because now people will wear the (full-face veil) not out of faith but because they are looking for a confrontation,’ said Hager Amer, a 27-year-old Muslim woman.”

4/12 CNN: France’s burqa ban takes effect. “But the law should not be interpreted as France turning unfriendly toward the largest Muslim population in Western Europe, he said. As its Muslim population has risen over the past decade France has gone to great lengths to ensure accommodations for Muslims. A council on Islamic faith helped guide changes such as increasing the number of clergy in prisons and the military and streamlining the approval of slaughterhouses to provide meat that adheres to Islamic law, according to Laurence.”

4/10 UPI: Debate as France readies burqa ban. “For him, this is extra work for already overworked police officers. "You can say that it’s not a priority for our colleagues," he says.”

4/09 Reuters: French police arrest protesters before burqa ban. “French police arrested 59 people on Saturday who turned up for a banned protest over the banning of the Muslim full face veil, a police spokesman said.”

4/04 Guardian: France spells out niqab ban. A look at the tensions around the law and around the interactions of people debating it.

4/01 CSM: France’s Sarkozy faces rifts on Islam debate. “But at home his position is less commanding as he faces open dissent in his party over the merits of holding an April 5 debate on secularism and Islam in this nation that strictly prohibits religious talk or religious symbols in state affairs.”

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Survey of policies on Muslim scarves and veils in Europe


Another important Factbox via Reuters: France’s ban on full face veils, a first in Europe, went into force on Monday, making anyone wearing the Muslim niqab or burqa in public liable to a fine of 150 euros ($216) or lessons in French citizenship. This article contains a summary of policies in various European countries on the Muslim veil.

See also:

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Need volunteers to help with transcription for the strategic Fruitful Practices Initiative


An international mission research team is seeking volunteers to transcribe tapes from interviews with field workers. Volunteers for this project are asked to commit to transcribe at least 10 hours of taped interviews over the next 18 months (more would be appreciated). If you would like to find out more about this project, please contact Daniel Hoskins at 870-834-4453 or

Although I can’t say much more than that, please know that this is a rather strategic initiative for work among the unreached.

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Egypt’s Muslims attend Coptic Christmas mass as “human shields”


What a wonderfully heartwarming set of articles, at least to me:


2010 Podcast No. 5: Fouad Masri and the Crescent Project


Today I talked with Fouad Masri of The Crescent Project. He was born and raised in the Middle East, but after he came to faith in Christ his entire outlook changed. Today his ministry helps to build bridges between Christians and Muslims: his main passion is helping Christians to reach out and love their Muslim neighbors. In this interview you’ll hear a bit about his life story, how the Crescent Project works in America, and how you can be part.

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2010 Podcast No. 4: Greg Livingstone: “Little Sowing, Little Reaping.”


Today’s interview is with Greg Livingstone, who is passionate about reaching Muslims. Greg tells the story of how he was called to Muslims at an all night prayer event (“what in the world do you have to pray for that takes all night?”), and goes on to share some powerful thoughts about reaching the Muslim world (“little sowing means little reaping”–among many others), insider movements, and the importance of praying less about where you should go and more about who you should go with. Greg was with Operation Mobilization for many years, eventually founded Frontiers, and today still works with three different efforts to bring Jesus to Muslims. “Bondservants don’t retire.”

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Evangelists Say Muslims Coming to Christ at Historic Rate


via Charisma Magazine: several stories coming out of Iran recounting the ministries of Yeghnazar, Father Zakaria, and dreams and visions of Jesus.

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Justice Stephen Breyer: Is Burning Koran ‘Shouting Fire In A Crowded Theater?’ – George Stephanopoulos’ Bottom Line


via George Stephanopoulos’ Bottom Line. One man’s action could lead to a situation where freedoms are reduced because they use them irresponsibly. This is an area to walk very carefully in. There is a line between protest and libel and encitement to violence.

On the other hand, I really don’t fear these kinds of things too much. Why? Because the Fruit of the Spirit is… [list the 9.] “And against such there is no law.” Hard to make a law against loving your Muslim neighbors as you love yourself, or turning the other cheek, or bringing a cup of cold water in Christ’s name, or clothing the naked, or feeding the hungry, or healing the sick.

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