Glenn Beck’s End-Times Prophet Confirms Facts “Irrelevant” When Discussing Islam

Glenn Beck’s End-Times Prophet Joel Richardson responds to my recent post deunking his claim on WND that “51 million” girls under the age of ten are being married to Muslim men in an “epidemic across the Muslim world”:

Personally, it is largely irrelevant to my primary point if it is 51 million or 1 million. Either way, its a problem, that any two vaguely morally inclined people could agree on. Which is why your article is so worrying and why SheikYermami has a somewhat valid point. I never stated a number. I only relayed what CNN stated. Again, your contention is not with me, but with CNN. My contention is with what you choose to emphasize and what you choose to overlook.

The CNN report, by Samuel Burke, cites the figure of “51 million” child marriages worldwide; Richardson conflates this with the number of such marriages in the Muslim world, and then extrapolates evidence from Yemen and Afghanistan to make his “epidemic” claim. However, Burke’s claim itself wasn’t quite accurate: the “51 million” figure is derived from worldwide Demographic and Health Surveys for marriages between the ages of 15 to 19, while Burke gives the impression that it refers to younger girls.

Richardson was too lazy to check Burke’s source, despite presumably being paid by WND for his writing.  I was able to find the relevant documentation in five minutes, despite not being paid by anyone (or living off donations from a “ministry”, for that matter). Apparently that does not mean I am more industrious or careful than Richardson – rather, it means that it is “somewhat valid” for Werner Reimann (SheikYermami) to claim that I am supporter of paedophilia who will perhaps end up “in a cell”. What should we infer from this, other than that Richardson is apparently OK with deploying paedo-smears?


Your failure to at knowledge [sic] the legitimacy of my primary point, which is that in all of the earth, the history, the example, that Mohammed left behind for his followers, is the primary source of religiously sanctioned pedophilia. This is an extremely important issue. To ignore this, while nitpicking data, in my opinion is revealing, Richard.

Richardson doesn’t care a damn for truth or falsity: because child marriage is a real problem, challenging inaccurate data about it is apparently blameworthy. It doesn’t matter that he’s misled his readers: the data ought to be correct because of what he thinks Muslims ought to believe and how he expects them to behave. Even if they don’t.

I should clarify that I don’t rule out the possibility that some Islamic ideologues might seek to justify child marriage by referring to the example of Muhammad. However, while this would certainly hamper efforts to end the practice, such a self-conscious rationalisation does not appear to be the main reason why early marriage occurs: those who have studied the subject (in particular, the International Center for Research on Women) highlight factors such as gender roles and a lack of alternatives; the value of virginity and fears about premarital sexual activity; marriage alliances and transactions; and poverty. This is why the problem appears to be worst in Afghanistan and Yemen.

Such factors are also cited in a recent piece in the Daily Telegraph by Robert Tait, noting an upsurge of child marriage Iran:

An Iranian NGO, the Society For Protecting The Rights of The Child, said 43,459 girls aged under 15 had married in 2009, compared with 33,383 three years previously. In 2010, 716 girls younger than 10 had wed, up from 449 the previous year, according to the organisation.

Its spokesman, Farshid Yazdani, blamed deepening poverty for the development, which he said was more common in socially backward rural areas often afflicted with high levels of illiteracy and drug addiction.

“Financial poverty of the families leads to children’s marriages. However, cultural poverty and ignorance is also an element,” Mr Yazdani told the semi-official Mehr news agency.

Of course, this context does not mean that we should overlook why the Iranian authorities have failed to act, and the report also suggests a religious factor:

The statistics will fuel criticism that Iran’s Islamic legal code allows children, especially girls, to be married at an inappropriately early age.

While Sharia law states that females can be married as young as nine, a 2002 ruling by the powerful Expediency Council laid down that girls below 13 and boys younger than 15 could only wed with their father’s consent and the permission of a court.

The Society For Protecting The Rights of The Child has highlighted a real problem – but the practice does not appear to be normative.

This is not the first time that I’ve documented Richardson’s sloppiness: in 2008 he claimed that the backdrop to Obama’s podium at his nomination acceptance speech was based on a piece of classical architecture described in the Book of Revelation as the “Throne of Satan” (it wasn’t, and Richardson backed down by claiming that he didn’t really mean it); prior to that, he relied on a  typeset version of a fifteenth-century manuscript to make the palaeographical argument that the word “666” in the Book of Revelation is in fact the Arabic for “In the Name of Allah”.

UPDATE: I’ve edited the above to remove some extra discussion of the Telegraph article. I’ve now posted this in a separate entry.

11 Responses

  1. Can we just put things into perspective here, vis-a-vis the USA’s own behaviour on matters of child sex and child marriage? It was In was only in 2001 that the legislature in Hawaii voted to raise the age of consent from 14 to 16. And in many parts of the USA, such reforms have only arrived during the last century. In the 1890s, most states had an age of consent of 10–12, and it was only in the 1920s that the majority of US states (but not all) raised the age of consent to 16. How old was Myra Gale Brown, Jerry Lee Lewis’ third wife, when they married in 1958? And by the way, around 20% of Americans report suffering sexual abuse as children (source: Clancy, 2009). We should see reform of the age of consent as something humankind should participate in together, instead of pointing fingers which (1) stokes racist hatred, and (2) falsely implies a position of purity.

  2. fwiw until 1754, the minimum marriage age in england was 12 for girls

    also worth noting, conservative christians are among the first to insist that what is held to be moral according to church tradition trumps any notion of applying modern ethics or logic. i can only imagine what the situation would be if a passage in matthew had jesus saying “lo, the proper age for girls to marry is ten, and i am not in any way having you on or speakething figuratively”

    • Well, but Jesus doesn’t say the proper age to marry girls is 10. (Nor did Muhammad, except in the sense that one teaches by example, and Muhammad consummated marriage with a 9 year old girl. Also, Allah in the Qur’an refers to consummation of marriage with prepubescent girls, without any condemnation of the practice.) Jesus doesn’t tell people to marry 10 year olds. He says things like “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, to God the things that are God’s.” That, and the fact that he had love as his central teaching, leads over the centuries toward the separation of religion and state. Islam’s core texts recognize no such separation.

      Jesus said all that went before him could be boiled down to two commandments only: Love your neighbor as yourself, and love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. By making love central, Jesus made freedom a central feature of his teaching. In the words of a popular song, “I can’t make you love me if you don’t; I can’t make your heart, do somethin’ it won’t.” Love comes from the innermost core of a person, and therefore cannot be compelled. By focusing on love, and by telling his disciples that he who would be greatest among them would not lord over them, but would wash their feet, as Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, and by saying “My kingdom is not of this world,” and by separating the realm of Caesar from that of God, Jesus set in motion a trend that would eventually separate religion and state and bring much more freedom into the world, despite the many Christians who clung to the past, and dragged their feet, and distorted Christ’s teaching.

  3. And the pedophile-justifiers come crawling out of the woodwork…

  4. Joel Richardson, was Muhammad responsible for the low ages of consent that once prevailed in America? Was America more Christian-like then than it is today?

  5. Yakoub, you said,
    Yes, I don’t give much heed to Bernard ‘Neocon’ Lewis

    Lewis is not a neocon. That’s just name-calling, not an argument. Lewis is widely cited as one of the world’s greatest scholars of the history of Islam and the Middle East. But in case you descended to name-calling, I included a link to dozens of news stories of how Muslims have used violent intimidation to silence any discussion of Islam outside orthodox lines. I notice you couldn’t respond to that, no doubt because it clearly shows that Lewis is right: Islam is totalitarian.

    You said,
    “…or to people who try to represent ‘Islam’ monolithically by regurgitating texts minus any of the 14 centuries of intepretation that ought to accompany them. Sahih Bukhari claims that the Prophet advised people to dip flies in their drinks as a cure for illness. It’s not advice I’ve seen my fellow Muslims adhere to in the 25 years since I converted. No one quotes the Hebrew Scriptures to suggest Jewish people stone each other to death outside the town gates. It would be considered extremely mendacious, don’t you think?

    Yes, since Jews don’t do that, it would be mendacious. But several hundred million Muslims around the globe are quite sympathetic to sharia law and jihad, and sharia law has not changed that much for a thousand years. We still find, for example, from a December 2010 Pew survey, rather widespread popular support for the death penalty as a punishment for leaving Islam: in Egypt (84% of respondents in favor of death penalty), Jordan (86% in favor), Indonesia (30% in favor), Pakistan (76% favor) and Nigeria (51% in favor).

    Yakoub, you sound like a Western convert. Your English sounds native, and you yourself tell us you were not a born Muslim, but a convert. You perhaps do not understand that in the Islamic heartland, and in Muslim-majority countries in general, attitudes about basic human rights often hearken backward to the attitudes of Muhammad’s time:

    Check out these bar charts from the international human rights organization Freedom House. The bar chart for the Middle East/North Africa — the core Islamic region — shows it to be the most unfree area in the world.

    Even if one looks at Indonesia, sometimes touted as an example of how Islam can coexist with freedom, one finds that Indonesians must have religious identity cards, that proselytizing of religions other than Islam can lead to a jail term, and that in one of Indonesia’s important provinces, Islamic law is being established.

    • That example really doesn’t help you – it’s pretty self-evident from the fact of the report itself and the reactions it has provoked that most Muslims regard this marriage as abnormal even by Saudi standards.

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