ACNA: No Moderate Muslims in USA

Religious Intelligence reports on a statement from Rev Julian Dobbs:

Delegates to the 2009 ACNA convocation in Bedford, Texas, last week were warned not to be lulled into complacency by the siren song dialogue with “moderate Islam.”

…The American variety of “moderate Islam” was “no more moderate than the militant Islam of Saudi Arabia or Indonesia,” Canon Dobbs said. Quoting the founder of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), he explained that “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant.”

“Don’t be misled or misguided, the peace Islam offers is not the peace of sitting around the camp fire singing [songs]. Islam’s peace is the implementation of Sharia Law and the global submission to Islamic ideology,” he argued.

Canon Dobbs stated that in the West, a “resurgent Islam” sought to “infiltrate the Church and win the loyalty and trust of large numbers of churchgoers.” Some had responded by conversion, he said, “attracted by the apparent order and simplicity of the Islamic faith.”

Claiming the full backing of Archbishop Duncan of the ACNA, Canon Dobbs urged the delegates not to let “polite multi-faith conversations” become a substitute for the “proclamation of the historic Christian message.”

The full text of Dobbs’ ruminations can be seen here.

This is an unexpectedly crude outburst from Dobbs. In the past he has spoken of the dangers of “extremist” Islam, suggesting he knows there is more than one kind – yet he now appears to declare that every American Muslim is a either a Wahabi or a member of Jemaah Islamiya. And while there are certainly problems in Indonesia (Dobbs has seen the persecution of Christians in Aceh), it is hardly a tropical Saudi Arabia, and the fact that we can identify Islamic militants in the country shows that there are contrasting non-militants.

There’s also an unhappy whiff of conspiracy theorising here. One can certainly be sceptical about aspects of CAIR, but the 1998 quote he wheels out has been milked beyond reason – of course a Muslim activist would want everyone to believe in Islam, just as Dobbs surely wants a world in which “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow…and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”. And while interfaith discussion might be used as PR by various Islamic regimes, talk of “infiltration” is unnecessarily paranoid.

Dobbs is an Anglican clergyman from New Zealand, and he was the New Zealand director of the Barnabas Fund. This organisation has done a good deal to publicise the plight of persecuted Christians, but its director, Patrick Sookhdeo, lacks good judgement: as I’ve blogged previously, Sookhdeo seriously misrepesented the content of a book of essays by Muslim writers in order to whip up fear about Muslims in the UK, and his hysterical response to a bad book review – he claimed it had somehow put his life at risk – was unworthy of someone who wishes to be taken seriously.

Sookhdeo and Dobbs are both allies of Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola; in May Sookhdeo was appointed Dean Theologian of the Diocese of Abuja, Nigeria, while Dobbs is apparently a low-key advisor who was unofficially present at the recent Primates’ Meeting in Alexandria. ACNA as a whole of course is closely aligned with conservative African clerics. In March, Sookhdeo complained that there was some kind of plot by Muslim-friendly evangelicals to discredit him; although he soon after backed away from this claim, it provided fodder for a screed from Melanie Phillips.