An Egyptian court in the city of Beni Suef has sentenced a mother and her seven children to prison for their return to Christianity. According to this story from FoxNews, the woman was raised as a Christian before converting to Islam when she married a Muslim man. After the man’s death, she returned to Christianity in order to pursue an inheritance from her family.
Amazingly, here is what the article says:
When the conversion came to light under the new regime, Nadia, her children and even the clerks who processed the identity cards were all sentenced to prison.
Even the clerks! Wow – civil servants in Egypt have to be on their best game when they come to work in the morning…
From this kind of treatment, we need to think through a few issues – at least one of which is not addressed by FoxNews.
- Can a person return to Christianity after converting to Islam? This is an angle on the story which Fox News did not pick up on, for the obvious reason that it is a point of theological debate which is not part of their normal news programming. Rather than commenting on this myself and being too harsh with a family going through something which is undoubtedly very difficult, allow me to simply repeat what God has inspired. Consider these quotes from the Bible:
Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so. It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.
Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
- Something like this should be fairly predictable. Indeed, many Egyptians thought that this is exactly what would happen when Sharia Law was enshrined in Egypt’s constitution. The issue for us, as Christians, is our requirement and responsibility to require our elected governments to act responsibly. Without a doubt, this kind of sentence would not presently be accepted in an American court or a British court. Yet, as the Fox News article points out, America sends $1,000,000,000 in funds every year to Egypt. Surely this is a simple case of supporting something abroad which would not be supported at home? So Americans should require better – less hypocritical – government by their elected officials.
- This demonstrates, in a very compelling way, the difference between Christianity and Islam. Christians do not jail Muslims – or anyone else – for de-converting. We call it apostasy (or backsliding if the person in question is a family member or friend). We are not pleased about it and so we work, through evangelism and prayer, to bring people back to Christ. Yet we are not arguing for jail time for apostates. People who follow the Qur’an are not only in favor of jail time but are also guilty of executing apostates.
- The above point reveals the naivety of some people. There is a common belief that all religions are equal and all religions are valuable. This case demonstrates that all religions are NOT equal. The mindset comes from the idea that religions do not have to be true to be useful. Rather, a religion is good because it gives hope, comfort and meaning to people who follow its teachings. Yet here is a great example of where the truth of a religion and the practice of that religion are intertwined. If Islam (as interpreted by these courts and the vast majority of Muslims) is true, then what this court has done is a good thing and should be repeated worldwide. If Islam is not true then what this court has done is to make a mockery of justice and to impose totalitarian practices on the people of Egypt. All religions are not equal and the truth of a religion determines its value.
These things should be considered and brought into our thinking. We should never elect politicians who have naive views of Islam – or any other matter. Once they have been elected we should call upon them to act with genuine intelligence, real discernment and with an agenda which benefits the people who elected them first.
As Christians, we must add one more thing onto our To Do List. Since God alone is the judge of this woman’s salvation, our role now is to pray for God to have mercy and to save her and her children and as many others as possible.