Palin Church Fire: “Hired Assassin” Claim

WorldNetDaily returns to the subject of the suspicious fire the occured at Sarah Palin’s church in December. There have been bitter complaints that the fire has not been the subject of greater media attention or official investigation, but now WND highlights some new allegations:

[Blogger Kevin] Collins said he discussed the situation with a church elder, Tom Ryan, who confirmed the case isn’t a simple arson, but an attempted murder situation.

“There were five adult women and a 17-year-old girl in the church during the arson,” Collins wrote.

He also reported the telephone wires and those controlling the fire alarm and water sprinkler were cut before the fire was set from within the building, because footprints were found inside the control room.

“Clearly the arson[ist] knew the victims were present,” he wrote.

“The facts speak clearly. This attempted murder was perpetrated by someone from outside of the Wasilla area, a hired assassin who went there to kill people because of what they believe,” Collins reported.

The cutting of the wires is surely newsworthy, but why is this coming to light only now? It’s not even mentioned on the church’s website. Collins blames “slovenly old media”, and claims the media is fearful the perpetrators will turn out to be left-wing. However, I’m sure Ryan or Pastor Larry Kroon could have got a hearing from many media sources with this information, both secular and Christian.

Instead, and curiously, Ryan has chosen to go to a Freeper-style right-wing blogger who chest-thumps at length on the usual subjects – a typical screed is entitled “Face it: Obama declared war on us. It’s time to choose up sides and fight back to Save America”; Collins also has a book to sell (co-authored with Paul Vallely of “Stand Up America”). From a summary:

Operation Sucker Punch (Blood for our Future) is a thriller where the stakes portrayed could not be higher. President Harlan Andrews of the U.S. prepares to launch a joint preemptive first strike with Israel against the world’s radical Islamic terror states. The strike must be pre-emptive and carried out with overwhelming lethal force. A top secret intelligence report proves that there are just months remaining before Mohammed Waleed, the Iranian Islamic leader, completes the building of deliverable atomic weapons. The tension builds as time runs out. The plan is to trick and set a ruse for the radical Islamist to attack Israel. Then, they will fight a war based on America and Israel’s timetable. Only this pre-emptive offensive can save the free world from the global caliphate. If the plan works, Waleed and his allies will be annihilated in this winner-take-all war. If the plan fails, America’s President and Israel’s Prime Minister will be tried as war criminals.

Is this really the only person that Ryan could get the word out to?

(Name variation: Kevin “Coach” Collins)

Shoebat and Islam in the Bible

Once again, Walid Shoebat makes an unhappy foray into Biblical scholarship, as he attempts to find evidence that the Bible predicts the rise of Islam. The evidence is a few verses in Psalms 81 and 83, plus a bit of Isaiah and Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, thrown in for good measure:

Look at the verses of Psalm 83 carefully; they are SO ACCURATE and most people do not pay attention to each word:

“So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm.” (v15)

There is only ONE element which caused Israel to win and it was definitely not their strength since the Arab armies were outnumbered 100 to 1 and 100 to 1 in weapons. The reason the Arabs lost the war was the fear factor.

Now in Psalm 81 there is an interesting verse:

“The haters of the Lord would pretend submission to Him, But their fate would endure forever ” (v15)

So it’s speaking of a people who hate God when they think in their mind that they submit to God. The word “Muslims” means “submitters to God”; Islam means “submission”.

In essence, when one read Psalm 83:2 “For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head.” What this is saying is that the enemies in this Psalm (Ishmaelites, Hagarites, Assyrians, Lot, Edom, and the people of Tyre) who think in their minds they submit to God, in reality are full of pride and indeed are haters of God.

Notice also that this prophecy is future – that the punishment would be forever; it would be at the end of days. So, in reality Psalm 83 has NOT been fully fulfilled; there is another event that must happen in order for it to be fully be fulfilled.

Where can we begin?

First, what role did any strange “storm” play in modern Israel’s victory in the Six Day War? None. And if we’re supposed to read the “storm” as poetic for instilling the “fear factor”, why take the rest of the psalm literally?

Second, what word in Hebrew is used for “submission” in 81.15, and can it really be related to the Arabic “Islam”?  I’m not qualified to ponder the Hebrew, but there’s no sign Shoebat is either. The NIV gives a plainer interpretation:

“If my people would but listen to me, if Israel would follow my ways,

 how quickly would I subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes!

 Those who hate the LORD would cringe before him, and their punishment would last forever…

The context is obviously of Yahweh overpowering (ancient) Israel’s enemies, who then try uselessly to mitigate their punishment by reluctant and insincere abasement. But there’s nothing here about the enemies of Israel creating a new religion revolving around another god (Shoebat sees Allah as a “moon god”) hundreds of years in the future, and Islam did not come into existence in the context of military defeat.

Third, there is nothing in Psalm 83 to suggest that the nations plotting against Israel “think in their minds they submit to God”. The author probably saw them as inspired by false pagan religions, but that’s not suggested in the psalm itself and that’s not the same thing as the unwilling “cringing” towards Yahweh in Psalm 81. In short, there is nothing here suggestive that the author or authors of these two psalms had any inkling of the rise of Islam centuries later, or that the distant future was of any interest.

Moving on to the New Testament:

Galatians 4 has some interesting verses:

“Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Hagar.”

“For this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia”

Why Arabia? Why does bondage, slavery, submission, and false faith come out of Arabia? Isn’t submission [Islam] the same as bondage?

Here’s that passage in wider context:

Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.  These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother…Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit.

I suspect Shoebat is so obsessed with the idea of Isaac and Ishmael as a literal way to understand the relation between Jews and Arabs today that he has missed the point. Ironically, the passage from Galatians is actually a critique of Judaism and the role of the law, rather than a warning about Islam. Those who wish to be under the law are like the son of Hagar, in slavery, but followers of Jesus are instead, like Isaac, free. Paul then relates this to the persecution of the early church. There is no cryptic message here about a “false faith” emerging from Arabia hundreds of years in the future. “Arabia” for Paul is simply the usual Greco-Roman term for “Sinai”; the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible known as the Septuagint places Goshen in or next to “Arabia” (1). Of course, whether Paul is fair in his characterisation of the Jewish law is another question, but for Biblical literalists engaging critically with Paul is off limits. And as Christian Zionists are squeamish about criticising Judaism (in some cases there seems to be a de facto “dual covenant” position), this kind of bizarre reinterpretation is doubtless more congenial.

Apparently next week the Oxford Union will be treated to Shoebat’s anti-Muslim diatribes; I’m sure it’ll be a hoot.

(1)  James Karl Hoffmeier, Ancient Israel in Sinai, p. 130.