Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Blasphemy in the Church

Hey Everyone!

I've been neglecting the blog for a bit -- while I fiercely attempt to soak up as much medical knowledge as I can before my licencing exam (as many of you already know). Thanks to all my readers and friends for your continued prayers and support!

I just came across this article by Jibran Khan, regular contributor at; he reports about Reverend Irfan Gill of Data Zedka (Punjab), who has recently faced blasphemy allegations and unfortunately in his case a slew of controversy as well. What's unique about this case however is that the article seems to tell us that Rev Gill did actually quote the quran in one of his sermons -- which led to the maulana of a local mosque to rage against the Reverend and try to start mob rule in the area. Typical response -- to a not so typical case.

This particular article does not delve into the exact context in which the Quran was quoted in the church -- or whether or not it was positive or negative. A further look at BPCA coverage of this case seems to indicate that the context may not have been bad -- but for lack of further information, let's go on and assume it was. Clearly this is an assumption that Father Munir John of the Catholic Diocese of Sialkot has also made because he has been quoted in Gibran's article as nearly bashing both Reverend Irfan and Protestant churches in general for what happened.

I take great umbrage at this entire situation.

I've said it before and I'll say it again -- the Blasphemy Law is just plain injustice. Not only because it's misused -- it's just plain ridiculous. Call it my "Canadian ignorance" if you wish, but I am beyond grateful that I live in this enlightened part of the world where God doesn't become smaller if you say something against Him. Believe or don't believe, respect or don't -- it's your prerogative and your eternity.

So why is sharia so adamant in punishing people for blasphemy? Clearly it's not about saving face or respect of their diety, but just plain emotion. "You hurt my feelings, so I'm going to lock you up for life or slaughter you."

Admit it or not, we know this is how it is for quite literally all blasphemy cases, but Christians -- and often Christian leaders are catering to and appeasing this kind of dangerous ideology when they turn the blame on to the victim.

Why do we not ask what good is a church that can not determine right from wrong? Truth from lies?

Should the Reverend have said what he said? I won't say he should have -- but that's only because I don't know the context. I do however, have a real heartache for so many Christians in Pakistan who sway back and forth in the gap between salvation and society; who with the constant bombardment of islamic rhetoric are at times not entirely sure of their own beliefs.

We discuss it all the time as a community, education will set us free but here's a radical truth for you all -- CHRISTIAN education will set us free for eternity. This includes knowing the reality of the world around us and what we should not take part in, because there is much that we should not take part in -- including falling for superstitions, false ideologies, evil practices.

Before I start getting hate mail though I do want to say: we have the harmless as doves thing down pat -- but we must also be wise/clever as serpents. It's probably not the brightest idea for us to speak in anger, uncontrolled in a church.  But at the same time, IF he was actually sharing something that was real and true and relevant, let me be the first to virtually pat him on the back and give him my thanks. All too often we run away from the difficult truths we must tell for fear of worldly consequence.

Here's a copy of the article, comment below and let me know what you think about this issue, the quotes in the article about denominations/blame, and the role of the church.


Punjab: Protestant pastor who cites Qur'an in sermon is accused of blasphemy
by Jibran Khan

Local Christians save Rev Irfan Gill after his life was threatened. He could still face the law under the 'black law'. Village imam wants him to retract and apologise in public. Many Protestant ministers are reckless, says Catholic priest; they "put the lives of innocent people in danger."

Lahore (AsiaNews) - A Protestant clergyman cited passages from the Qur'an as he delivered his sermon during a recent service in a Punjab village. This angered the local Muslim leader who wants the pastor to stand trial for blasphemy. Local Christians now fear that they too might experience the wrath of the Muslim community.

In the village in Data Zedka (Punjab), tensions are still high. Rev Irfan Gill, a Protestant clergyman from Lahore, has received death threats and a complaint by the head of the local mosque, Maulana Hafeez Tariq, has been filed against him. The latter even tried to attack him with the assistance of a group of local Muslims.

The local Christian community had invited Rev Gill to a prayer meeting. During his sermon, the clergyman quoted passages from the Qur'an to explain the errors and misunderstandings that underline today's interreligious violence. Outraged by such references, the imam called on the pastor to retract his statement and make a public apology.

Local Christians were able to get the reverend away, saving him from a dangerous situation. However, a blasphemy accusation still hangs over his head. Attempts by Christian elders and human rights activists to mediate failed. Maulana Hafeez Tariq wants a public apology.

For Fr Munir John, a Catholic priest from the Diocese of Sialkot, the pastor is partly to blame. Many Protestant preachers are carried away when they speak and anger people.

For Fr Munir, Rev Gill "should come back and apologise" rather "than put the lives of innocent people in danger."

"It is not the first time that a Protestant clergyman endangers the innocent," he explained. "Their small denominations and street churches can become easy targets."

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