I have been extremely disturbed by the latest controversy rocking Jordan over the expulsion of what have been dubbed "Foreign Christians" and the reactions of some Jordanian churches (in Arabic). For those that have not been following the controversy, here is a brief synopsis.
- Compass Direct runs an article detailing the Jordanian government’s expulsion of "Foreign Christians" from Jordan.
- Shortly thereafter a group of Jordanian churches, which did not include all Christian denominations in Jordan, agree with the government decision and publish a statement in Al Rai newspaper (in Arabic).
- Jordan confirms the expulsion and makes reference to the supportive statement of the Jordanian churches.
The issue is probably too controversial for me to comment on fully and might offend some, so I will try to tread carefully. This is my humble opinion. I’m not trying to take sides. I’m merely observing and commenting, nothing more, nothing less; so bear with me. My two main points:
Religion should be a free choice. If individuals want to tell others about their religion, they should have the right to do so. This is what happens in democratic societies. In the US, for example, preaching about Islam is not a crime. Christians convert to Islam on a regular basis, no sweat. This is not the case in Jordan, since it is not yet a democracy. I believe it is a basic human right for any individual to have the right to choose whatever spiritual path they want. Hence, I disagree with the Jordanian government’s decision to expel anyone based on religious activities. But then again, this is the case in Jordan and it may never change. People may just be satisfied with the status quo. Personally, I think the status quo contradicts any moves Jordan makes towards true democracy, but that’s just me.
I think the statement by the Jordanian churches (Arabic) inflamed the controversy and it was unnecessary. It created tension between different Christian denominations in Jordan. It was unmerited and, I hate to say it, but it bordered on "bad taste." From what I read and heard, many of those deported were actually Arab ministers belonging to various evangelical churches in Jordan. The churches’ statement basically created a divide between the Eastern Christian denominations and evangelicals whom the statement labeled "illegitimate."
A number of those that were deported worked for the Jordan Evangelical Theological seminary. In response, the president of Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary, Dr. Imad Shehadeh said:
The variety in denominations should not express discord and enmity, but rather, like the tree with many branches, it should express beauty as well as unity in diversity. Evangelicals are not perfect. Many individual evangelicals, like anyone else, have undoubtedly made mistakes. But let us all learn, love and cooperate together for the glory of God and the upholding of our beloved country of Jordan.
I remain disturbed by what occurred. I wish it had not happened. Frankly, it puts Jordan in a bad light internationally and has created unneeded tension amongst Christians in Jordan. Finally, if anyone wishes to comment, please keep the discussion decent. Thank you.
Here are some reactions from the Jordanian blogosphere:
It is too late for church leaders to give a justification or to apologise. They will regret and remorse their shamefull betrayal; this Judas -Iscariot-like betrayal will go down in history . As for Nour, what a shamefull statement that they were pressured; I will resign rather than stabbing my brothers in the back,and by the way, Nour has also two nice Evangelical brothers . How weird !
Oh… here it is right in front of my nose:
‘â€œThe government said they have their own reasons to kick them out, but personally I donâ€™t know why,â€ said council secretary John Nour’
Well thats strange because he is the guy Compass was talking to and he seems to use “we” a lot…
Nour said that an official from Jordanâ€™s Foreign Ministry had approached the council, Jordanâ€™s highest Christian body, requesting that it respond to accusations of increased pressure on foreign Christians printed in the January 29 Compass article.
â€œThey gave us a paper about why [the foreigners] have been deported,â€ Nour told Compass by telephone from Amman. â€œNone of them were working legally under a church name, and if they were working under a [registered] church in the country, they were not doing what they were supposed to do.â€
For your info. Bishop Nour is not a real Bishop. He is a self proclaimed bishop. In addition, he is not part of the group that issued the statement.
“I still believe, while not aquitting them of the blame, the pressure they were put under by government and officials in high places”
Yes, for sure, but if you dig around a little more you will find out that Bishop Nour used to be an evangelical pastor. Seems he decided to “convert” after getting fired in connection to his “fund-raising operations” in the west… Maybe the evangelical churches have more integrity than they are credited with? Maybe other people have an axe to grind?
This is not such a simple issue.
for years certain missionaries have ravaged regions like africa, stole its resources under the pretext of religion and colonization and now they are acting as though they are giving back something that belongs to them. thats not the case. If i burnt r house down and then came and helped u rebuild it, that doesnt make me a good-doer, it makes me evil. and thats what such missionaries are trying o do in countried like Iraq and others in the middle east. some voted for a war that they knew meant killing people, and then went in there under the esxcuse of humanitarian work.
the statement of some of the churches reflects some of the frustration on their part, not necessarily as someone said that they were pressured into it. WHY in the world would you want to convert someone who is already a christian, because you believe they should belong to their denomination. That shows a certain attitude of supremacy on the part of missionaries. they dont just try to convert muslims, but also get the catholic and orthodox christians to switch to their protestant and evangelical subscriptions.
Another thing, Muslims dont vote for wars against america then travel there to “help” them rebuild their country by introducing Islam (as we see has been done for Iraq). most people that convert in the US do so not beause someone willingly and consciously prostelyzed them, but out of their own will. (in fact many have converted wuthout ever meeting a muslim in their life). no need to resort to such deceitful tactics. OFCOURSE if u rape my country, steal its resources and then come in with gifts and help, i have no choice but to accept it if i want my family yo survive. Thats the only issue i have with missionaries; i come across people who try to convert people and i dont have a problem with that. i have a problem with the deceitful tactics in which some do that. its false just as their message is false.
For info. This is a statement motivated by the Christian leaders that issued it and not by the Muslim community. Those traditional churches are the ones opposed to evangelicals for selfish reasons by the way.
If you dig more into it you can find out who really went after that statement.
Its not the government. The evangelicals have been in Jordan for ages, it never happened before.
According to the statement made by the infemous council, no poor or jobless people should have the chance to learn and get educated in their religion ! Church leaders want their congregations to be as sheep led by their rotten mentality. What on earth is this kind of logic or thinking ! The middle ages have passed, and the papacy era of appointing kings and executing heritics do no longer exist except in their sick minds. Isnt it better to cure your own churches from priests who molest children and cause your churches shame and millions of dollars in law suits !