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It’s been a doozie!

I saw my buddy, Cain, while I was East in the Land of Nod. I was frightened out by this hellacious spaghetti monster so I headed off to Damascus where I was struck blind by a light and I met a nice angel. I got a ride to Jerusalem by a mysterious bird whose name sounded presidential. After came a huge rain, forty days and nights! I got washed out to sea where I was swallowed by a huge fish, not a whale, but a fish. I spent three stinking nights in its belly when it finally puked me up on the beach (after the waters from the flood receded, of course). My angel later showed up again with some gold plates with a language only I could translate, upon which the angel flew the plates back up to Heaven.

That’s where I’ve been all this time.

Now those plates, well, they’ve given me the key to all that is good and evil. They are a source of wisdom and make me an arbiter of justice. I’m setting up our temple to share it all with the world. All of mankind will one day recognize me a the legitimate heir in a long line of prophets. And Thursday will be our new holy day as Friday, Saturday and Sunday are taken. Since it is your duty to help me spread the word we except you to pitch in your share of cash when I pass the plate around.

You follow me?

If you won’t then you can burn in Hell with the rest of the infidels and sinners. As for my followers? I’m more than sure we’ll be able to find some who will drink my Kool-Aid.

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Damned indecision... Should I take the one on the right or the one on the left?

Damned indecision... Should I take the one on the right or the one on the left?

I think I could really make some money on this information but for the sake of others I think I will just let everyone know now and ahead of time.  That is if you really want to know?

Do you want to know what the real and true date of the Apocalypse is?

Well, you might be interested to know that I have an inside track on this one that no one can argue with..

The Apocalypse will start at exactly 1010 hrs on January 19th, 2010… It works out to 1010011010 which is the binary 666.

Get ready for the big one!

Get ready for the big one!

So you can see, it is absolutely mathematically certain to occur on the date above. You can’t argue with logic and math, now can you? All other predictions, well, how should I say? They can be damned!

(I just had to add that one – tee hee!)

I hope you are busy preparing yourself!  You need to get down to the grocery store a few days in advance.  Check that first aid kit, fire extinguisher and water purifier. Dig yourself a bomb shelter – whatever you need to do start getting it done.  This could get nasty.  Kinda like Katrina all over again but this time it will be ALL OVER (no pun intended…)  I hear it would be even worse than giving George W. Bush a third term.  Make sure to tell your friendly neighborhood Bible thumper while you are at it.  It will give them all the more reason to pray for you.

I had to think about the title for a while on this posting.  I was very tempted to call it:
Thomas Richards and his incredibly shrinking credibility…
Thomas Richards of SpirituallySmart.com

Thomas Richards, the dupe behind SpirituallySmart.com

Thomas Richards of Spiritually Smart, whom I have questioned in past posts as having been intellectually stupid on his support of an idiotic conspiracty theory, has recently changed his tune on our good old neighborhood cult leader Bernie Hoffman, er…, Tony Alamo, who is facing a plethora of federal charges back in Arkansas mostly stemming from issues revolving around child molestation allegations.  Thomas Richards put the “I ain’t the one to blame” back peddaling in his statement when he used an interesting, almost non-committal choice of words:  “…it seems I was wrong…

It seems you were wrong…? Only seems that you were wrong?

Well, Thomas, it more than seems that you were wrong.  In fact, you’ve been looking cheesy on this one, and many others, for a while.

Bernard LaZar Hoffman, AKA "Tony Alamo", AKA "The Accused"

Bernard LaZar Hoffman, AKA "Tony Alamo", AKA "The Accused"

Unfortunately, Mr. Richards tends to favor making such errors in logic and common sense when it comes to the fringe of whacky religious groups and conspiracy theories.  Just have a look at his website or YouTube channel and you can see that if there is a pothole full of goofballs in his path he’s sure going to fall in.  The crazier the conspiracies are are the more our boy Thomas tends to gravitate to them.  But Tommy isn’t satisfied to simply hover around like a moth magnetized by a burning light bulb though.  No, Thomas Richards thinks it is somehow his job to bring people closer to the mindsets of these morons like Tony Alamo and Alberto Rivera.  It is sad, to tell the truth, at how whacked out and cuckoo Thomas Richards likes his gurus.

Each to his own I guess.

Alberto Rivera, Religious Fraud

Alberto Rivera, Religious Fraud

But Thomas Richards tried to appear to do the honorable thing by publicly admitting that it “seems” he made a mistake, you say?  I would love to give Thomas Richards lots of kudos for admitting this mistake, this gross error in judgment, but when I read back over his many web postings and YouTube videos, many with himself being the sole narrator, and am forced to ponder at how Thomas Richards defended these creeps for so long I really get the distinct feeling that the proverbial shit has hit the fan, the inevitable has set in, and our boy is only trying to distance himself from the splattered stench.  When taking into consideration the fact that Thomas Richards whole heartedly supported this goon Tony Alamo for so long and that he has the same steadfast support for the religious fraudster Alberto Rivera who’s main testimony concocting the Vatican Islam Conspiracy is published in a comic book that has been thoroughly and utterly discredited by, you guessed it, research into history, well, ya gotta just wonder where Thomas Richards’ head is.  I for one don’t have to wonder so much about where Thomas Richards’ head is because I have seen the muck he’s been spewing out over and over.

Want a hint?

Okay, here’s a big hint…!

Have you found your head finally, Thomas Richards?

Have you found your head finally, Thomas Richards?

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What an odd question, I know…

Some time back a friend asked me this question over a few beers.  “Don’t answer it now!” he told me, “Just think about it for a while.”  I have to be honest about it.  I didn’t think about this question for some time.  Until last week that is.

I had some free time to reflect about things for a few days as the family was away visiting more family.  I found myself in front of a clean notebook with three pens:  one black, one red and one blue.  I thought to myself that such a question comparing organized religion to organized crime would be a given – organized religion would win out.  So I wrote down on one column all of the positives of organized religion.  Then on the other side of the page something quite strange happened.  I told myself that I would brainstorm all of the positives of organized crime, and guess what?  I came up with as many good points to organized crime as bad points.  So then I decided that I would do the opposite and write down all of the bad points of organized crime on one side of the paper and see if I could match the bad points of organized religion on the other side of the paper.  And I could.

Before this creates a moral vacuum or a philosophical conundrum I just want to be clear.  I am not trying to state that organized religion is bad and that organized crime is good.  In fact, I am not saying that I have become neutral on either subject.  I am just saying that all the evidence gleaned from this exercise just supported the notion that there is no black and white.

So now I ask you for your own answers.  Which is worse (or better)?  Organized religion or organized crime? What say you?

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I believe in free speech and free self expression.  People have a right to believe in what they want to believe in.  But at the same time, in a libertarian way of looking at things, it is always wrong to try to force your beliefs on someone else.  You don’t have too far to look to see that the world is full of this today.

My first book, Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness, was written not to achieve any kind of best seller status and to make me famous.  It was written basically because there are scoundrels out there who create false histories all of the time and try to pass this off as a “hidden” truth.  A truth that the “powers that be” want suppressed.  They decorate their story in so many “facts” that there is no way you can sort through it all unless of course you do what I did and sit down and hash out the story line by line.  Then you see it is all a big lie.  But these window dressing stories tend to be far too big for average people to investigate.  We aren’t all history professors and most of us don’t have the time to go into all of the assertions and assumptions that these scoundrels make.  When the scoundrels are secular figures like David Icke with his reptilian theories then it is easier to brush this off and get on back to work.

But this isn’t always the case.

In many of these cases the purpetrators are non other than the ministers in churches.  Most of these guys pass on this bunk because it’s been passed on to them by people they have trusted.  They are like the rest of the community.  Not social scientists and not history professors.  But where these stories start are almost always in the imaginations of people who’s intent is not so good.  They tend to be megalomaniacal and use these stories to pull their flocks in further.  In the case of Alberto Rivera he was just on to the next gig.  Then you get the likes of the empire builders like Tony Alamo.  And these guys have a lot to answer for with the trash they put out, trying to mix it with religion to lead people off track.  As their tenticles spread out they surround themselves with apologists and dissiminators such as Jack Chick and Thomas Richards who act more like attack dogs and in my opinion are just as dishonest, even though they have been dupted themselves.

I have been working on a report on how to spot these guys.  I may post it on my website or I may make it into and e-book or e-mag.  It won’t be near long enough to be another book project as it doesn’t need to be but it will be an easy enough document to follow so that it will be simple to spot who the crazies are out there.   It will be out soon.  And I promise to make this as informative as possible.

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kurt-kuersteiner1

Kurt Kuersteiner

I have gotten to know Kurt Kuersteiner a bit over the past few years.  I first met him when I was interviewing him for my first published book Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness: The Truth about the Vatican and the Birth of Islam. Kurt is a very interesting character if you ask me and he is well known in the “Jack Chick” circles.  Kurt is the author of an exceptionally well done anthology of Chick Publication works The Unofficial Guide to the Art of Jack T. Chick: Chick Tracts, Crusader Comics, And Battle Cry Newspapers and he directed the documentary God’s Cartoonist: The Comic Crusade of Jack Chick, which I found engrossing.  I have copies of both the book and the film.  Kurt is an adjunct Communications professor in Tallahassee Florida, where he also publishes entertainment trading cards for Monsterwax.

gods-cartoonist6Kurt and I approach Jack Chick in very different ways. Personally I don’t care what he puts in his tracts about sin in and of itself – it is when Chick tries to glaze over historical fact to promote his own point of view that I get bent out of shape with him. Kurt, on this other hand, sees Jack Chick as a cultural phenomenon that deserves respect for his work and his accomplishments. Or at least this is my understanding of Kurt’s point of view. You can see for yourself what he has to say.

What is it that you like most about the Chick Publication tracts and what got you to research your book?


the-art-of-jack-chick3 It is inspiring to me to see a writer try to get his message to the masses, and without the help of any corporations or political party or even organized church, he is able out-publish everyone else! What is especially interesting is that his message is so politically incorrect, and if anything, the corporations, political parties, and (the majority of) organized churches have tried to marginalize him. Yet there is his, an underground cartoonist with his vision, who engineered a crusade that catapulted his work around the world and made him the most published author alive today. Chick has printed over 800 million tracts and is still going strong. That is a testament to creativity, determination, faith in the product, and the American dream. It proves that unconnected individuals can still succeed in this country if they work long enough and hard enough.

Personally, which do you like better, the Jack Chick style or the Fred Carter style?


carter-the-letter1 I especially love Fred Carter’s art. It’s beautiful. He’s one of the best comic artists around and he’s very versatile. Too bad he’s ignored by both ends of the comic book business because the corporate side can’t hire or exploit his talents, and most of the customer side thinks he’s a square since he’s a fundamentalist. Even if most people disagree with his beliefs, they should still recognize his artistic talent and respect his willingness to give up so much in order to promote his faith. Interestingly enough, most my artist friends prefer Chick’s art, because his style is so distinctive and retro. Together, the two artists make quite a team!

Do you think that it is possible to be a fan of Jack Chick and disagree with what he is trying to get across? Is it possible, for instance, to be a secular art collector who appreciates the work but remains untouched or unchanged by the message?

To the first part of your question, the answer is definitely “yes”. I know all sorts of gays, Catholics, Jews, Rock and Roll fans, Witches and even self proclaimed Satanists who love collecting Chick’s tracts. Some feel it’s a guilty pleasure and others rationalize that his conspiracy theories are so extreme, that they only encourage the opposite view. Several of these Chick critics/ collectors wrote reviews for my book, so I know he has fans who love his product but hate his message.

When you ask if it is possible to remain untouched by his message, of that I am less sure. I suspect the more people collect his work and appreciate his talent, the harder it becomes for them to hate everything he represents. In other words, it tends to soften them to Chick and his message over time. They may still remain a gay Satanist Rock and Roller, but when their pals come around with a truck and baseball bats and want to go crack some Christian heads (to use a Chick analogy), they become less inclined to join the fun. It’s much easier to hate a group when you don’t actually know anyone in that group, yet everyone who reads Chick can’t help but get to know him after a while.

I look at the tracts and the comics as totally different kettles of fish because I think more often the tracts are aimed at a specific “sins” or “lifestyles” whereas the comics tend to tell “untold” histories or present conspiracies to the reader. Most of these subjects are quite controversial. How much research into these subjects do you feel that Jack Chick would have done before producing the tracts and comics?

The tracts are different from the comics, as you point out, but the comics tend to split up into two different groups as well.

The comic books remind me a lot of the TV show The X-files, but instead of agent Mulder and Scully, you get Tim Clark and James Carter, aka “The Crusaders”. Remember how there were two different types of X-files episodes? The first type was the conventional monster-of-the-week (M.O.T.W) tale, where Scully and Mulder track down the vampire or Mutant on the loose. With the Crusaders, that monster is Satan in the guise of some evil villain or cultural vice.

The earlier X-files M.O.T.W. stories were the episodes that got the public hooked, because they had the most action and eye candy. The same goes for The Crusaders. The first eleven comics have Tim and James dodging bullets, racing cars, and escaping other violent entrapments (thanks to the power of prayer) and always saving the day (or non-believer) by the end.

Later on, the X-files created a different formula, the conspiracy episode, which featured less action but put more emphasis on mystery and intrigue. So did The Crusaders. The basic difference was that while Agent Mulder and Scully got information from Deep Throat (a former insider) who tattled about the ongoing UFO conspiracy, The Crusaders listened to Alberto (who was said to be an former Jesuit) explain the vast Vatican conspiracy. The general public was less impressed when both series got deeper and deeper into the conspiracy plots, but the hardcore fans loved it.

Ironically, Deep Throat was shot in Mulder’s presence for revealing the truth in the X-files. And someone actually shot at Alberto Rivera in Chick’s presence (in a drive by situation) in real life. Year’s later, Alberto died of colon cancer, but he blamed it on a special poison given to him by an undercover Catholic. (I think I hear the X-files synthesizer playing now!)

Regarding Chick’s research: Chick’s background was in acting. He graduated the Pasadena Playhouse just after fighting in WW2. He likes drama so sensational plots are a natural attraction to him. That being said, he also feels constrained to tell the truth as he sees it. He believes in a living God who intervenes in our daily lives, which many Christians also believe. Where he differs is that he also believes in a real Satan, and that the devil ALSO intervenes in our daily lives. (Many Christians say they believe in the Bible but don’t actually think the devil is real.) This is why Chick is so suspicious of conspiracies, because it only stands to reason that the Prince of Lies would use conspiracies to promote evil, corrupt popular culture, and turn people away from the true Word of God (The Bible).

halparody

Chick reads his King James Bible, and sees how modern translations keep watering it down with newer and looser language, until they get to the point where certain churches want marry gays, and another wants to make Mary a “co-redeemer”. Chick sees these beliefs as blasphemies and proof of a Satanic plot to undermine Christianity from within. Now some may believe its just a coincidence that our culture, our government, our schools, and even many churches are working together to lead society further and further away from traditional Biblical values, but Chick and his supporters find that too hard to swallow. They recognize these changes as being orchestrated by activists, factions, unions, and special interest groups who have a progressive agenda. Chick and fellow fundamentalists believe that agenda is evil and inspired by Satan to turn the world against God. (You can choose not to believe it, but you can’t say that it doesn’t make sense.)

Like any good lawyer, Chick sets out to research and gather information that supports his position. He’s not interested in proving the other side’s case, so he only includes info that supports the fundamentalist view. He’s used different sources in the past, and some of them are quite controversial and shaky. However, David Daniels, the man who currently helps Chick write tracts (and numerous books), is a good researcher who knows how to document his sources. Daniels has a Masters of Divinity from Fuller Theological University and is well trained in the Bible and linguistics. So basically, it appears that Chick is responding to criticism that his claims have poor sources by bringing people like Daniels on board. Whether that helps him win more of his cases in the court of public opinion remains to be seen.

Do you have a favorite tract or comic (or both)? If so, which ones and why?

My favorite tracts are Wounded Children (about homosexuality), Angels? (about Rock and Roll), Satan’s Master (about witchcraft), Lisa (about child molestation), and Dark Dungeons (about role playing gamers). The main reason those are my faves tend is a combination of the sensational plots, the cool art, and, I confess, the fact that they are all out of print and rare.

spellbound

My favorite Chick comic is Spellbound. It’s an action packed tale revolving around John Todd’s testimony about the Rock and Roll industry being run by the Illuminati. (Alberto later co-opted this claim by saying the Vatican controlled the Illuminati.) Spellbound has a pretty down beat ending too, with only a Pyrrhic victory, since one of two main characters is murdered before he can convert, and the news media compare the Christians to Nazis when they burn the Satanic Rock and Roll records.

john-todd1On a happier note, John Todd’s character (Lance Collins) is saved from being shot in a drive by attempt, something that John Todd claimed happened to him in real life (but Chick did NOT witness that situation). These sure aren’t your average comic books!

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Tony Alamo is at it again.  Talk about a guy who just can’t stay out of the news, and for all of the wrong reasons…

Recently one of Tony Alamo’s shills, Thomas Richards, declared me to be a Jesuit coadjutor.  I wonder what he has to say about the fact that ole Tony has his bum in a bind again?  Over the weekend I visited the Tony Alamo’s ministerial website and listened to the recording of him asking children and young adults whether or not he ever molested them.  Then Tony’s wife gives her blast about how this is all the work of the evil Vatican.  (Don’t get Thomas Richards wound up…)  Then Tony rambled on about how God tells him what he should eat and what shoes to wear.  And how well connected he was in Hollywood and how he was a professional bodybuilder and how all the movie studios wanted to make films of his kid…

Oh, I almost forgot, he also called his accusers homosexuals and paedophiles.  Not to say that these accusers are or aren’t homosexuals and paedophiles but I guess it would make Tony feel better that his accusers weren’t straight like him.

So I kinda thought to myself, “Wow!  The young ones that Tony picked out to record their testimonies all said ‘no, we weren’t molested!  Tony Alamo is the best man in the world.’  That’s it.  The Tony has spoken, I believe it and that settles it!”

Not.

Tony, if you are guilty then may you rot in hell.  If you are innocent, well, here’s some advice:  It is probably time you started to watch out who your running buddies are.  If these folks accusing you are so God awful then how did they get close to you?  Isn’t it kind of like Jerry Falwell knowing that there was a cartoon of him committing incest with his mother in Hustler magazine?  Surely it wasn’t a Christian who alerted him to this?!?

Maybe since I am from the same part of Arkansas as where the Tony Alamo Ministry has its campus and since I am such an obvious Jesuit coadjutor (according to Thomas Richards) and since the Vatican is behind all of this (according to Mrs. Alamo), then maybe I was the one who was working behind the scenes to bring Tony’s downfall?  Nah!

But wouldn’t it be nice?

Footnote:
Last Friday, my high school football team, the Prescott Curly Wolves made a visit to Foulk, Arkansas.  This wasn’t to visit Tony Alamo’s ministry though.  It was to beat the pants off the local football team.

Prescott Curly Wolves  60
Foulke Panthers 12

Go Wolves!

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My good friend Thomas Richards is at it again!  I have recently learned that he has labeled me on his website as a “Jesuit Coadjutor”.  If you’d like to see for yourself have a glance down the lists on the left hand side of this page.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists two definitions of this word:

1)    One who works together with another: assistant
2)    A bishop assisting a diocesan bishop and often having the right of succession

The word comes from the Middle English coadjutour.  And before that from the Anglo-French which in turn is from Late Latin coadjutor (Latin co- + adjutor helper, from adjuvare to help).

So obviously, since Thomas Richards says it this must be true!  The simple fact that this guy would write such a thing has me baffled, but again, it proves my point.  These conspiracy theory folks, the people who actually listen to the likes of Alberto Rivera and his fraudulent ilk, will themselves say and believe anything.

Both I and an acquaintance of mine have contacted Thomas Richards about these asinine statements he is making regarding me and my book yet the poor devil doesn’t see fit to respond – only to claim that I work together with Jesuits, which couldn’t be further from the truth, or that I am even a bishop who is assisting a diocesan bishop – depending upon which definition Thomas meant to apply to the accusation.

He might as well call me the anti-Christ.  There would be just about as much validity to that statement as to Thomas Richards claiming I am any sort of Jesuit coadjutor.

Sorry, Thomas Richards!  The more I see of you the more I get the feeling that you were educated far beyond your intelligence but unfortunately not highly educated as well.  Such a shame, your efforts could have been better served with a little more honesty.

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Dr. Walid Mustafa is Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities at the La Sallian school Bethlehem University of the Holy Land. Since 2004 Dr. Mustafa has been Dean of Faculty of the Arts. Previously he was Dean of Students at the same university. Dr. Mustafa received his Ph.D. from Kiev State University in the Ukraine. He has authored or co-authored seven books and numerous articles about various aspects of history, society and politics in the region. Bethlehem University of the Holy Land, or simply Bethlehem University, is located in the town of Bethlehem in the West Bank area of the Palestinian state.

Gary Dale: Dr. Mustafa, I appreciate the opportunity to interview you and I am very happy to have the chance to gain more background about some of the incredible claims in Alberto Rivera’s account of how the Roman Catholic Church allegedly helped to “create” Islam. Can you begin by telling me a little bit about the Jews of the Arabian Peninsula who were contemporaries of the prophet Mohammed?

Dr. Mustafa: The Jews who lived in this land were of Arab origin. They spoke Arabic and they had Arab names. Their traditions were those of the Arabian Peninsula. Judaism, like Islam and Christianity, is not a nationality. Nor does it mark tribal or national affiliation as is known. A man may be Buddhist and still belong to his homeland India, Thailand, or China. Similarly, a man may belong to Judaism and have an Arab, Russian or French nationality.

Gary Dale: Can you provide a little background on where these Jews came from? What was their history?

Dr. Mustafa: When Moses and his followers in Judaism emigrated from Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the present holy land, archeological studies, including the Israeli’s, that is critical of the Torah-historical school, proved that the number of those who emigrated from Egypt was limited and that that emigration did not take place in thousands. Therefore, Judaism gradually spread to a part of the Canaanite tribes living in those lands. The proof for this is that the state established by Shaoul, David and Solomon did not come into being at once but after about three centuries after the emigration of the followers of Moses to the holy land. Had the emigration been in thousands, when population of the holy land ranged between 50 and100 thousand, the Jewish state would not have taken that long to be established. The facts of archeological studies show that this Jewish state was a part of small political entities, known as city states or tribal cities that were established in the Canaanite land in the 11th century BC. These small states came into being simultaneously in the Canaanite land, namely Philistia, Phoenicia, Aram, Amon, Adom, and the kingdom of Judea, which soon was divided during the reign of Rahba’am (Solomon’s son) into the kingdoms of Judea and Israel. Those six “states” shared their origins, dialects (Semitic languages) and cultural standard. It is difficult to distinguish between the archeological and cultural remains of those states. In other words, the Jewish kingdom was not an alien body, established by aliens in the land but it was established by a group who lived in this region and constituted a part of its history. Consequently, there exists no nationalist ties between the Jews of the world and the kingdom that was established in the 11th century. In fact, the ties between them are spiritual, similar to those that link the Christians with Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Nazareth in the holy land and the Muslim with Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. No Christian or Muslim in the world can claim that he has nationalist ties with Saudi Arabia or Palestine, which give him the right to citizenship, dominion or sovereignty. This land has its nationals that are attached to it historically and nationally.

Gary Dale: You just mentioned that the Jews were emigrating back from Egypt over a long period of time and gradually built up their state. How then did they get so spread throughout the Holy Land as well as outside of the region after that?

Dr. Mustafa: Some citizens in this state, as was the case in other kingdoms, spread in the adjacent regions through what was known in that era, the ten centuries before Christ, as captivity. The victorious or conquerors from Mesopotamia or the Nile used to capture the most beautiful, skilled strongest among the defeated nation and take them to Babel and other capital of the conquering nations, in order to participate in rebuilding, developing and serving those capitals. Some of those used to return home later on or remain in the new country. This happened with the Jews, who were taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar in the 6th century before Christ.

Gary Dale: This is how Jews got to Mesopotamia. Alberto Rivera speaks specifically of Jews in Saudi Arabia. Could you elaborate a little about how the Jews got to Arabia?

Dr. Mustafa: A part of the followers of Judaism who lived in the Holy Land during the Greek and Roman reigns moved to the adjacent regions in the Northern Arabian Peninsula (the city of Yathrib, including the Khaibar village) and to the Southern Peninsula (Yemen), due to the tyranny of the new regimes that did not accept Judaism as a competitor to the official religion of the ruling government. Some of them my have moved of their own will in search for new more favorable means of living in an area other than the homeland, as was the case of the nations of that epoch. This helped in the spread of Judaism in one way or another among the nations of the new regions, which were of Arab origins, to which the Jews emigrated.

Gary Dale: How about Mohammed’s relations with the Jews? Was he known to have contact with Jews in the Arabian Peninsula?

Dr. Mustafa: After the severe ordeal experienced by Prophet Mohammad and his followers at the hands of the leaders of Mecca, he accepted the invitation extended to him and his followers to emigrate to the city of Yathreb, which lies to the south of Mecca and which was considered the second city in importance in the Peninsula at that time. The Jews of Yathreb and Khaibar participated in welcoming Mohammad and his compatriots. However, the establishment of the Islamic state in Yathreb later on and its growing stronger in power led to conflict with the commercial and social interests of the Arab Jewish leaders in Yathreb, which led to eruption of armed struggle with the two parties and the defeat of the Jews. This forced a number of them to leave the North of the Arabian Peninsula, heading to the holy land, Iraq, Yemen and Egypt, either by force or willingly. After the completion of the victory of the Islamic state in the Arabian Peninsula, a law was issued, which forbade followers of other religions to live in the cities of Mecca and Yathreb. They could reside in the other cities and regions of the Peninsula.

Gary Dale: The assertion by Alberto Rivera through Jack Chick’s tract comic “The Prophet” claims that the Vatican used Islam to extinguish Jews and rival Christian, non-Catholic, denominations. Can you give us some back ground as to how the Christians, and Jews, were treated in the area as Islam became the dominant religion of the area?

Dr. Mustafa: When Islam spread in what is called the Middle East at the beginning of the 7th century, the followers of Judaism and Christianity living in that region were clearly protected. Their religious places and properties were also protected. Use was made of their experiences in administrative matters, the sciences, translation and literature. Followers of Judaism and Christianity lived in peace and cooperation with the new Islamic state and many of them were distinguished as men of politics, science, literature and art.

Gary Dale: And how about North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula?

Dr. Mustafa: When the Muslim Arabs conquered northern Africa and the Iberian peninsula (Andalusia), the Jewish Arabs moved with them and emerged as a part of the political entities that were established in that land. When the Arab Muslims were defeated in Andalusia at the end of the 15th century AD, the Muslim, Jewish and Christian Arabs moved to the northern part of Africa and other regions of the Ottoman state. Some Jews lived in the northern part of Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya), forming a large Arab Jewish community there. Some others moved to Egypt, Turkey, Greater Syria and Iraq, joining the Jews who were originally living there.

Gary Dale: And so a good part of the Jewish Diaspora started part and parcel with the spread of Islam, rather than the claims that Jews and Christians were “put under the sword”, so to speak. In the Rivera story this doesn’t fit because he claims that there has been animosity stirred between the Jews and the Arabs by the Vatican since basically the birth of Islam. Can you elaborate on when and where you believe the animosity arose?

Dr. Mustafa: It should be noted that throughout history, Jewish communities moved to Europe via the Persian and Caucasian lands and that community contributed to the spread of Judaism among the different European nations. Arab Jews enjoyed continued living in peace and cooperation with their fellow Christian and Muslim Arabs in most of the Arab countries until the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, when the tragic events that befell the Palestinian people, who paid a heavy price that led to the emigration and evacuation of more than 750,000 Palestinians out of their villages and cities on which Israel was established. That led to spread of an atmosphere of suspicion and hatred, which were used by the Zionist movement, which conducted a wide propaganda campaign that led to the emigration of the vast majority of the Arab Jews from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Iraq Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. The number of Jews of Arab origin is estimated to be between 30 and 35% of the population of Israel at present. A visitor to Israel can notice the clinging of those Arab Jews to the customs, traditions and culture that they carried with them from the Arab countries out of which they emigrated. Those residents may serve as a bridge that leads to the achievement of a just and comprehensive peace between Arabs and Jews.

Gary Dale: If you don’t mind, I would like to turn our attention now to Waraqah, who is sort of portrayed as an agent of the Roman Catholic Church. Can you give me some background on him?

Dr. Mustafa: Waraqah was the uncle or cousin of Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, the first wife of the Prophet. Waraqah witnessed their wedding.

Gary Dale: Can you give me an idea of Waraqah’s religious background?

Dr. Mustafa: Waraqah ibn Nawfal was a Christian. He didn’t inherit this from his parents but reached this out of personal conviction. He traveled to Damascus, met there a number of Christians and then followed this religion. Before Islam, Waraqah was known by the Arabs as a member of a group named “Hanafiyeen”, who refused to worship idols and searched for God in creeds other than those of their fathers and forefathers.

Gary Dale: Were there many other Christians in Arabia at the time?

Dr. Mustafa: No evidence exists in history that proves that there was a big Christian community in Mecca and Waraqah was not a Bishop of Mecca. The explanation for that was that Mecca was an important commercial center in the Arabian Peninsula, in whose worship, rituals and trade, many tribes which were living in the Peninsula were united. Each tribe preserved its worship, rituals and gods and sent samples to the noblest of places in Mecca, Al-Kaaba, in which were preserved samples of the gods of Arab tribes. Special festive seasons were devoted there to perform pilgrimage and visit these gods. Therefore, it was no coincidence that the political and trade leadership in Mecca fiercely opposed the new call of Islam. When they could not overcome it, they joined it.

Gary Dale: The Chick Publication claims that Waraqah had lots of influence in Mohammed’s theological development. Can you briefly address this?

Dr. Mustafa: We sometimes read in several historical sources of Christian inclination to exaggeration, in my opinion, of the role played by Waraqah in the formation of the Islamic creed of Mohammed. Doubtless, Mohammed was influenced by the teachings of both Judaism and Christianity. Islam considers itself a continuation and completion of the two religions. Historical Muslim sources prove Waraqah ibn Nawfal’s welcoming of Mohammed’s prophet hood. However, anyone who is deeply knowledgeable about the Islamic teachings notices differences between Islam and the other two religions as there were differences between Christ’s teachings and those of Judaism. Prophet Mohammed lived in a different age and environment and was distinguished by genius that qualified him to bring new things too. Had Waraqah been the mentor and revelation for Mohammed, why didn’t he himself call for it, as he had a status, reputation and roots that were not unequal to Mohammed’s.

Gary Dale: It seems to me far fetched that Waraqah would have even been able to have had anything to do with the Catholic Church as Alberto Rivera claims in his tale of conspiracy. No one knows for certain what faith Waraqah followed. Could you possibly shed any light on the matter?

Dr. Mustafa: Waraqah lived in the second half of the 6th century and beginning of the 7th century AD. He adopted Christianity at the hands of religious men in Damascus. The Damascene church was attached to Constantinople, or the eastern church. Therefore, I think it is unlikely that Waraqah was a Catholic. Moreover, I agree with you that talking about Islam as if it were a Catholic conspiracy for the control of Jerusalem is far-fetched and daring fantasy of interpreting history, which is the result of economic, social and political conditions and not the result of conspiracy.

Gary Dale: Near the end of Alberto Rivera’s story he says that the miracles witnessed in Fátima, Portugal, were all aimed at getting Arabs to convert to Catholicism. I have laid out reasons in my text why this couldn’t be true, but let’s entertain the idea that it was true. I still don’t see any Arabs converting en mass to Catholicism. Can you offer a few words on this subject?

Dr. Mustafa: I think that the present phase of relationship between religions in the world, especially the three monotheistic religions, is characterized by the awareness and conviction of the followers of each of these three religions of their beliefs. The relationship that connects the followers of these religions is tolerance, recognition of the other and respect for the differences among them. Therefore, I think that conversion is rare and if it occurs, there would be narrow material interests behind it. Religion in the Arab world constitutes an essential component of the social fabric and it has deep impact on customs and traditions. It is also part of the essence of human activities, such as marriage, holiday observance, occasions and others. Consequently, conversion is not easy. And if it happens, it leads to the isolation and distancing of the converter from his family and group. On the basis of my general observations, I don’t see a conversion movement. Even moving from one sect to another is rare for the same reasons, e.g., a Sunni becomes a Shiite or an Orthodox Catholic. Moving to a sect may occur in order to get support or financial or educational assistance and not more.

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