Catholic Muslim Forum objects to public baptism of Muslim converts
Cranmer thinks this is suitably timed for the moment King Abdullah descended upon the Vatican ‘to call for conferences between the religions to protect humanity from folly’, which is a bit rich, coming from an adherent of Wahhabi Sunni Islam,
The guardian of the holy sites of Mecca and Medina wants to stem ‘the disintegration of the family and the rise of atheism in the world’, and said: "If God wills it, we will then meet with our brothers from other religions, including those of the Torah and the Gospel to come up with ways to safeguard humanity."
Cranmer does of course support all the world’s religions joining forces and working together where their unanimity may be a force for good, but this cooperation must be in the political realm. The King says: “I have noticed that the family system has weakened and that atheism has increased. That is an unacceptable behavior to all religions, to the Koran, the Torah and the Bible. We ask God to save humanity. There is a lack of ethics, loyalty and sincerity for our religions and humanity."
Cranmer is not remotely persuaded that the King is talking here of a dialogue of equals. While all faiths may unite in their support for the traditional family, it is difficult to see how they may combat atheism. To which god will the converts be directed? For the Wahhabi, the ethical code which must ultimately prevail is that of Shari’a, and the Christian commitment to such a dialogue will have the effect of censoring any inquiry into Islam, however scholarly, and any criticism of Muslims, ‘for fear of causing offence’. It will certainly halt public baptism of Muslim converts, when such a rite of passage is supposed to be a very public witness of faith and evidence of their commitment to the Saviour and Lord.
Arab newspapers have already deplored the baptism of Magdi Allam, whom they say has ‘worked tirelessly to attack Islam’. One said that the Pope's involvement made it look as if the Vatican was ‘scoring points’, provoking ‘genuine questions about the motives, intentions and plans of some of the Pope's advisers on Islam’.
And then they invoke their commitment to 'A Common Word' - for the sake of humanity and world peace – insisting that their dialogue ‘is not a tit-for-tat logic of reciprocity’.
Reciprocity is a good word, and Cranmer would rather the King had begun his ecumenical endeavor there. Will the King permit churches to be built in Saudi Arabia, where there are over a million Christian believers? Will he acknowledge that religious freedom includes the freedom to change one's religion without fear of execution? Will he concede that the genders are equal in the eyes of God, and that all humans should be treated with justice? And will he learn from the Christian understanding of justice, mercy, and love?