Sharia Comes to Dearborn

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DaniJeanne's picture

I was volunteering at the festival with a church group, an outreach based in developing friendships and serving the arab people, and then sharing the Gospel with them.

One of the rules of the festival, which was upheld before a judge earlier this month, was the prohibition of anyone handing out any kind of flyers or pamphlets without being at their designated booth. So, those with a booth in the artisan tent were quite welcome to hand out as many copies of the Gospel of John as they wished, if they just handed them out to people who approached their booth. I am not sure where the 5 blocks away part came from- because that was not one of the rules that I knew of. However, the place where they were standing there, when they were stopped from handing things out, was not really outside the festival- as it was right next to the ferris wheel, not even past the parking barricades.

I would like to note that the Josh McDowell booth, and the Arab Alliance church were both there at the festival with booths, and both were handing things out from their booths. The group with the individuals who were arrested also had a booth, so they had access to do the same. The Christian groups were being treated the same way as the muslim evangelists who were at the other end of the tent. None of the groups, of either religious or commercial interests, could hand things out inside the festival, and the ferris wheel was part of the festival.

While there very well may be some things to be concerned about in Dearborn, and there is a real potential difficulty in sharing the Gospel with these people, beloved by God- the video is a bit misleading, because the group was not singled out because of what they were handing out, but because they were handing ANYTHING out, away from their booth, and because they were not really outside of the festival at all.

As a contrast to how these men were treated.... some of the leaders of the festival told one of the leaders from the group that we were in, that they knew that we were there as Christians to talk about Jesus, but that "You know what, you can talk about Jesus as much as you want to, because you are our friends". We had gained friendship with them through serving (working 12-hour days at the festival, assisting with parking security, hospitality, children's tent, running errands for arab chamber of commerce people, and working in the info booth), and have open doors to share the Gospel.

Rather than focusing on the ONE way that the evangelists in question were unable to hand out their information, and instead of focusing on whether or not that was right or wrong, we should focus on the ways that ARE available to us to share the Gospel with these dear people. It is much more conducive to spreading the Gospel, than banging one's head against a brick wall, as these individuals were doing, as they had tried the same approach the year before without luck.

I don't defend the fact that the rule was made to prohibit things being passed out, nor do I support the police statement of needing to be 5 blocks away from the festival... but when there are other accessible ways of spreading the Gospel, it's not something we need to pay too much attention to- whether your "RIGHTS" to pass out tracts has been compromised...and fighting for a "right".. but to minister to these people the best that you CAN- walking around the festival and meeting and getting to know people, telling them about Jesus individually with words- volunteering at the festival and working with the vendors and sponsors, showing them you care about their people group; being available at and passing out tracts and Bibles and information in the places you CAN do so; and just showing that you are there because you care about the people you are trying to reach, as people. It takes a lot more than just handing someone the Gospel of John to show them that you care.

Diane Heeney's picture

Thank you for giving this added perspective. The clip had me thinking in exclamation points...this helps things to appear a bit more reasonable than the impression given.

"I pray to God this day to make me an extraordinary Christian." --Whitefield http://strengthfortoday.wordpress.com

Matthew Christensen's picture

I heard an interview on local radio with David who is from this group that was arrested. From what I understand they were not handing out anything and were not approaching anyone. They allowed people to approach them and only then did the have a conversation. To get information right from the group it is best to go to their[URL=http://www.answeringmuslims.com/ web site[/URL ].

DaniJeanne's picture

Their video shows them handing things out... and it's authentic because i recognize the people in the video, as some of the same people who walked up to the information booth when i was there, asking me about what the rules were at the festival, because the police told them about the 5 blocks away thing.

Jim's picture

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Bill_of_Rights

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Quote:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,

What I saw in the video was the exercise of freedom of speech and the right to assemble!

What the police did was to restrict speech and interrupt the right to assemble!

Jeffrey Dean's picture

It would appear that more than one group of dedicated believers practiced their evangelism within the rules of the festival/local government. And one group of believers seemed to think that those rules did not apply to them. Several group successfully spread the gospel within the governing framework and the other has created turmoil, strife and spotlighted themselves instead of Christ.

Let us celebrate the type of believer who takes the time to show genuine love to Muslims and gains their respect and friendship. They live in a relational world and such a relational approach honors Christ. Let us not celebrate those who trumpet personal rights over legal authority.

Rom 12:17-18 "Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Diane Heeney's picture

Jim Peet wrote:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Bill_of_Rights

Like:

Quote:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,

What I saw in the video was the exercise of freedom of speech and the right to assemble!

What the police did was to restrict speech and interrupt the right to assemble!


I didn't get the sense that those fellows were trying to "assemble"...if my understanding of that term is clear, it means if individuals are gathering for a meeting of some sort...like "a wowee.....a warge gathewing of mice for a weason" ...? Smile

"I pray to God this day to make me an extraordinary Christian." --Whitefield http://strengthfortoday.wordpress.com

JohnBrian's picture

Diane Heeney wrote:
like "a wowee.....a warge gathewing of mice for a weason" ...? Smile
An American Tail quoted on SI! - what depths we have stooped to, it's a slippery slope from here to wherever. Repent and cast out the mice within us!

CanJAmerican - my blog
CanJAmerican - my twitter
whitejumaycan - my youtube

JohnBrian's picture

Jeffrey Dean wrote:
Let us celebrate the type of believer who takes the time to show genuine love to Muslims and gains their respect and friendship. They live in a relational world and such a relational approach honors Christ. Let us not celebrate those who trumpet personal rights over legal authority.
I appreciate this view.

CanJAmerican - my blog
CanJAmerican - my twitter
whitejumaycan - my youtube

Peter Laitres's picture

I worked the Arab International Festival last year (2009) and what DaniJeanne says is 100% accurate. Let me add a few other details.
1) It is an Arab American Festival put on by the American Arab Chamber of Commerce. It is not a Muslim festival, though the majority of attendees probably are Islamic to one degree or another.
2) There was more of a Christian presence in the artisan tents of the festival than there was Islamic. There was one booth of Islamic "evangelists" compared to the Christian booths of Josh McDowell, a double booth Arab Alliance Church and at least three more missionary/literature booths getting the gospel out whom I spoke to personally.
3) This was not a "Christian-free" zone or anything like that. To my knowledge, the rules are made to keep order as if there was non-stop proselytizing on the crowded street, it would ruin the festival.
4) Many other Christians worked the perimeter of the festival area handing out gospel literature and witnessing to the attendees.
5) There was a PLO booth there. Hate-filled people to say the least. But even they were not out on the street handing out literature.

I do not know the legal and constitutional implications of all this. But I will say there was far more gospel getting out at the festival than any other religious information. The fact that the Roman Catholic Thomas More Law Center filed the suits sends a red flag up to me. I wonder if these folks attempted to acquire evangelical legal help first.

I have mixed feelings about the whole situation. First, the Christians with Impact International (who worked the festival on a volunteer basis), the Arab Alliance Church, Josh McDowell Ministries and others who represented Christ well were having an impact. I saw women in full burqas carrying "More Than a Carpenter" and "Witness" (McDowell's books)! Second, many of these folks come from countries where the United States is known as the "great satan" and where Christians are said to be immoral drunkards. That is the reality. Do I like it? Of course not. But we are faced with either having to work from reality or just using the "oughtness" argument of "how can they treat us like this." What would the Jesus do? Wink We need to win their trust enough so that we can give them the gospel. Third, I do find it, as an American, troubling that a public street is restricted. But have these folks tried witnessing in a court room? In a state legislative chamber? I rationalize this in the "one rule for everyone" category. If it was only Christian (or non-Islamic) literature being prohibited, that is far different. But this was not the case in Dearborn.

I followed the legal mess in the press last year (2009) as I was there and knew what was really going on. What most conservative and conservative Christian media say about what happened and happens at the festival is simply wrong. Often apparently just to get Christians all fired up. The article entitled "Sharia Comes to Dearborn" is simply wrong and incendiary. If it was truly Sharia law coming to Dearborn, there would have been no Christian presence and those trying to covert Muslims would have been faced with capital punishment. Folks need to be careful when making proclamations like that. We must live John 8:32 like never before - "Ye shall KNOW the TRUTH, and the TRUTH shall make you free." We can either curse the darkness, or we can show them the Light of the world (John 8:12).

Twitter: GodsLaw1 *** www.peterlaitres.net ***  

“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.” - Galatians 2:21HCSB

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

JohnBrian wrote:
Diane Heeney wrote:
like "a wowee.....a warge gathewing of mice for a weason" ...? Smile
An American Tail quoted on SI! - what depths we have stooped to, it's a slippery slope from here to wherever. Repent and cast out the mice within us!

Hmm. I guess there are *lots* of cats on SI (and no cheese either)!

Dave Barnhart