CANA and the coming campaign against Islam

Last March, in an article about Archbishop Peter Akinola and the 2004 massacre of 650 or more Muslims in the Nigerian town of Yelwa I wrote:

It is sometimes said that in electing Gene Robinson its bishop, the people of New Hampshire "exported" the American argument over homos

exuality to the rest of the Anglican Communion. It is fair to ask whether, through organizations such as [Martyn] Minns' and [David] Anderson's Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) and initiatives such as the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), scheduled to be held in Jordan and Jerusalem this summer, the archbishop and his financial backers are attempting to export his approach to Christian-Muslim relations to the wider world.

More from Griswold [quoting Akinola]:

“People are thinking that Islam is an issue in Africa and Asia, but you in the West are sitting on explosives.” What people in the West don’t understand, he said, “is that what Islam failed to accomplish by the sword in the eighth century, it’s trying to do by immigration so that Muslims become citizens and demand their rights.”

The culture warriors who funded the Anglican right's campaign against the Episcopal Church may be preparing to graft an anti-Muslim branch onto anti-gay roots. They may well employ Akinola and a few other bishops to persuade the world that millions of impoverished Africans think precisely what militant American conservatives need them to think. It worked once. At least for a while.

Lo and behold, yesterday, we received news that the Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, a stalwart of the Anglican right who will soon step down a Bishop of the Diocese of Rochester in the Church of England, will be in Washington in October to deliver a speech on “Aggressive Secularism, Multiculturalism, and the Islamist Threat to Western Culture and Society.”

And CANA, is announcing a new program (see the release below the fold) on "the Church and Islam" led by Canon Julian Dobbs, formerly of the vigorously anti-Islamic Barnabas Fund.

Two cents on where I see the breakaway Anglicans heading: the leadership, like Minns, Dobbs, Don Armstrong, etc., will continue to play to big donors and political insiders by agreeing to gin up resentment against whomever the farthest corners of the American right dictate. Meanwhile, on the ground, these churches will present themselves as Baptists with a taste for liturgy--and keep the nature of their origins, their views on human sexuality and their leaders political activities more or less under wraps as they attempt to reach out to young people. The long term prospects of ACNA and its various branches hinges almost entirely on obscuring and growing beyond its homophobic roots as quickly as possible.

CANA Announces the “Church and Islam Project”

HERNDON, Va. (August 19, 2009) – The Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) announced its “Church and Islam Project,” an education-focused initiative to help Anglicans in the U.S. understand Islam and the challenge it poses to the Church and its mission.

CANA’s Canon Missioner, the Rev’d Canon Julian Dobbs, recently spoke at CANA’s Annual Council on the subject. “As Christians, we are called to reach out to the world around us to spread the love of Christ and that includes learning how to respond to other religions. CANA is committed to providing its members with honest and respectful information, while exposing the truth about so-called moderate Islam and encouraging evangelism to Muslims,” he said.

In addition to holding educational seminars and providing materials to CANA members, CANA’s “Church and Islam Project” will provide information at a new website,

An ordained Anglican priest, Mr. Dobbs will be heading the “Church and Islam Project.” He was most recently the U.S.executive director for the Barnabas Fund, at which he developed awareness for the persecuted church and this growing ministry across the U.S.

“Through its association with the Church of Nigeria, CANA has watched with horror as anti-Christian violence has increased especially where Nigerian States have introduced Sharia [Islamic] law. Churches have been burnt and destroyed, Christians have been intimidated and some have been killed, all in the name of Islam. Islam continues to invade the Church here in the U.S., where Christians are increasingly subject to statements from Episcopal bishops and other leaders who confuse parishioners about the theological irregularities of Islam and champion ‘open pulpits’ where mullah’s are invited to teach from lecterns once dedicated to the proclamation of the historic Christian faith,” Rev’d Dobbs continued.

“Countless pastors and churches are being drawn into discussions on Islam and Christ, but we cannot let polite multi-faith dialog substitute for the truth of the Gospel message. CANA is committed to providing resources to help Christians deepen their understanding of Islam and to develop the appropriate Biblical response,” he said.

CANA Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns agrees. “The Gospel message does not exclude a fifth of the world’s population who are Muslims. We are called to love our neighbor – no matter what religion they practice – because the Christian faith has a distinctive message which brings the salvation and love of God to a needy and broken world through the life-transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.

Comments (6)

I have no trouble at all sharing the Gospel story with anyone who will listen. There is a fundamental difference between doing this out of a love for Jesus and the gifts we have in him and doing this out of an anxiety about the eternal destiny of the religious other. Christianity should enter into a critical and appreciative dialogue with all other religions. There are crucial differences of doctrine, worldview, and practice, though also many similarities. Serious engagement with Muslims would make us better Christians. It might also make Muslims better Muslims.

And, as for the prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him.

Bill, I'm with you 100%. Two extended visits to Ethiopia and two to Malawi have given me opportunity to hear African Christians and local sheikh talking about their relationships (often extended family). While we're struggling with a well-funded Christian Religious Right, Islam faces a like challenge in an Islamic Religious Right. Both are trying to claim sole right to speak for their faith, both are deeply hostile to peace-making or ongoing good relations with the other religion, and so, ironically, the two versions of the Religious right become allies sharing the fierce desire for confrontation and conflict because it gives more evidence of what 'they' (the demonized other religion) really want.

My first trip to Ethiopia was just after a flare-up of the border war with Somalia. A group of Muslim extremists have surrounded a remote church during Sunday services and systematically slaughtered all the people at worship. Some weeks later strangers appeared on the streets of Addis Ababa selling videotapes of the slaughter. Within a day or so the Chief Imam of Addis, the Ethiopian Patriarch, the Roman Catholic Archbishop, and the mayor appeared on television together telling the people not to be the tape. "We are friends. Many of us are family to one another. These people want to destroy that friendship and break up families." The street sellers of the videos disappeared quickly after that. The story is heartening in one way - one of those examples of Christians and Muslims actively supporting one another and continuing peaceful relations. In another way it's chilling. Clearly there are people - some Muslim and some Christian - who want to teach us to hate one another.

AS FDR said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." CANA and its cohort seem to specialize in building institutions based on fear: fear of change, fear of LGBT people, fear of Islam.

The other thing that they are taking advantage of is our very skewed media images of Islam and Muslims. It took a trip to Jerusalem and The West Bank for me to begin to see through my preconceived notions and the media images I had unconsciously absorbed.

I, for one, would like to avoid repeating the mistakes that have plagued Muslim/Christian relations in the past. I believe that the two religions have a lot to offer one another and the world if we are able to learn to co-exist peacefully. Unfortunately, initiatives like this one are extremely unhelpful in this regard.

Finally, I wonder who benefits from fanning these flames? Are there parties here who see self-interest in creating and maintaining these conflicts?

For an institution to build on fear, the leaders must have enemies. If fear of one enemy wears thin, then other enemies must be found and pushed to the fore.

June Butler

This information is troubling and underlines the notion that some folks hold that says we are only united by being AGAINST some enemy. It is fear based and that doesn't speak to me of the power or love of God that we see in Jesus. I want to stand FOR something, for the Reign of God, and have no time for these kinds of un-Christian withesses

The position paper on interfaith dialogue at General Convention was hardly read through before being passed, but it made the evangelical news blogs because we actually said "Jesus is Lord" in it.

So lets be real. For evangelicals and fundamentalists people of other faiths are conversion grist, doomed if they do not repent and accept Jesus. Their approach to glbt people is the same, get healed and stop your evil.

They are true fanatics, doing what they know God would do if only God had all the facts. Under their leadership there would be no point to any sort of interfaith dialogue that actually respected those of other faiths.

Fanatic Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, etc all feed off of one another and ramp up hatreds to give themselves importance, and collect cash.

All the more reason to oppose CANA and ACNA and to urge the WWAC to do the same.

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