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The Unrepentant Traditionalist
May 11, 2010

The Merest Christianity
by Frank Creel

ARLINGTON, VA —The lower house of Belgium’s Parliament voted unanimously on April 29 to outlaw full-face veils. The Senate must also pass the measure.

This action follows Switzerland’s referendum in December that outlawed the building of minarets. The French government is expected to outlaw Muslim veils by September. President Nicolas Sarkozy has said, “The burqa has no place in France.”

“Conservatives” everywhere are cheering. Finally, they say, Europe has awakened to the danger and is taking appropriate measures to repel the Muslim hordes. Danger, indeed, there is. If existing immigration and reproduction rates remain as they are, almost every country in Europe will be an Islamic republic before another half century passes.

Whether these measures are appropriate is another matter. Appropriate measures rest on accurate identification of causes and the choice of solutions targeting those causes. What the Europeans are doing fails in both respects.

This is not the battle of Lepanto, reprised after 438 years. Then, a vibrantly Christian Europe was under assault by the most powerful empire since Rome’s. In response to the pope’s appeal, the nations of Europe assembled a fleet to challenge the Ottomans soon after the fall of Cyprus to the Sultan. The Ottoman fleet was more than twice as large, but Don Juan had Europe, fervently praying the Rosary and beseeching Mary’s assistance, behind him. The Ottomans were no match for the allied Christian fleet and the Mother of God.

At the moment of engagement, the wind shifted slightly, giving Don Juan the advantage. The Christians lost 7,500 sailors and soldiers; the Ottomans lost twice that number and gave up 3,500 prisoners. Thousands of Christian galley slaves in the Ottoman fleet were rescued. Ottoman naval power in the Mediterranean was broken, never to recover. Thanks to Lepanto, the New World became the chessboard of England, France, Spain, and Holland, rather than of the Ottomans.

When, some years back, Europe was cobbling together the treaty to establish a permanent European government in Brussels, the pope asked for a written nod of recognition of the continent’s Christian legacy. His request was brushed aside.

That dismissive attitude betokens the principal cause of Europe’s present predicament. Europe’s magnificent cathedrals are conspicuously empty of worshipers. Christianity is passé, and various forms of neo-paganism are marching through the national cultures. The percentage of Muslims who take their religion seriously, even in the belly of this neo-paganism – perhaps partly in response to it -- is much higher.

Europeans revel mindlessly in la dolce vita, delay or shun marriage, contracept with every hookup, abort the contraceptive failures, and push their birth rates far below replacement level. Muslims revel in the arrival of every child and eagerly await the culmination of their demographic warfare. Call it revenge for Lepanto, if you will.

Only one thing can forestall their victory — a revival of Christianity across Europe.

I mean serious Christianity. A Christianity that sets aside enmity and legal repression; that recognizes that the duty of each Christian is to display the loving and beautiful face of Christ — in feeding the hungry, succoring the poor, and visiting the sick and dying — to a cynical world; and, yes, in loving our enemies by, as St. Francis of Assisi counseled, constantly preaching the Gospel, by words if necessary. Europe was more in need of Mother Teresa than India.

Jihadism is best countered by conversion to Christianity, an extremely difficult thing to do with Muslims, admittedly, but not unheard of.

Pagan Rome tried for almost three centuries to stamp out Christianity with bloody persecutions and relentless repression. That approach did not work out well for them. Attempts to ward off Muslim ascendancy by invading their countries, propping up their repressive governments, and, after we have opened our doors to their immigrants, restricting their religious freedom will not work out well for us, either.

Islam is essentially an Arab resuscitation of the ancient Christian heresy of Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ, and which once claimed the allegiance of a majority of Catholic bishops as well as of several emperors after Constantine. Islam also shares the strong streak of iconoclasm found in Byzantium.

The field on which this war is being fought, therefore, is fundamentally theological. In one camp are the believers in a Trinitarian God, that inscrutable mystery of a communal, yet undivided, Love that is the source of all being. In the other camp are the Arians and their theological heirs, who are scandalized by the notion that the majestic and unapproachable Lawgiver and Judge could stoop, in person, to the level of His creatures. To a Muslim, the most unforgivable crime is shirk (association or sharing of God), which is what all true Christians do.

Ultimately, of course, victory will belong to those who possess the truth — but the fate of Europe may be lost in the mists of time at the final denouement. What the truth Europe now faces is that it has abandoned the field to its mortal enemy.

And America is well along the same path.

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The Unrepentant Traditionalist is copyright © 2010 by Frank Creel and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. All rights reserved.

Frank Creel, Ph.D., a columnist and author, was an English teacher in the Peace Corps in Turkey. He is fluent in the Turkish language and in Arabic script.

See a complete biographical sketch.

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