A former Southern Baptist Convention president who made headlines three years ago when he denounced the Muslim prophet Muhammad as a “demon-possessed pedophile” didn’t mention a similar recent controversy in this year’s message to the SBC Pastors Conference.
Southern Baptist leaders denounced a church sign in North Carolina carrying the message that the Quran ought to be placed in a toilet and flushed, a reference to allegations that U.S. interrogators desecrated the Islamic scriptures at a military prison in Cuba.
Creighton Lovelace, pastor of Danieltown Baptist Church in Forest City, N.C., apologized for posting the sign and removed it after SBC leaders intervened. The church later left the SBC, in part out of concern that publicity about the anti-Muslim statement might endanger Southern Baptist missionaries living in Islamic states.
But Jerry Vines, pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., never apologized for his comment at the 2002 Pastors Conference in St. Louis. Unlike Lovelace, SBC leaders defended Vines for his comments, saying what he said was true and that he was just speaking his mind.
EthicsDaily.com e-mailed a contact address on Vines’ Web site June 3, asking if, in light of SBC leaders denouncing the church sign in North Carolina, he thought it would be appropriate for him to apologize for his own anti-Muslim statement three years ago.
Courtesy copies were sent to SBC president Bobby Welch, SBC Executive Committee President Morris Chapman and Jerry Rankin, president of the SBC International Mission Board. None the four acknowledged receiving the e-mail.
When Vines spoke Monday at this year’s SBC Pastor’s Conference in Nashville, he made no reference to either his or Lovelace’s remarks.
Earlier in the conference, however, the author whose book Vines credited as the source of his 2002 remark, said he continues to be criticized for the expose of Islam written by him and his younger brother, both former Muslims and now both deans at Baptist seminaries.
Ergun Caner said Sunday night that when he and his brother, Emir, wrote Unveiling Islam, “We were dealing with absolute truth.”
In the second year after 9/11, Caner said, his fights “dealt more with the peaceniks.”
“In the last 12 months, my adversaries have changed,” Caner, dean of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University seminary, said. “I’m not saying the Muslims are silent, obviously they are not. I’m saying they have gotten a new helper.”
“Evangelicals are standing up to argue with me,” Caner said. “I don’t know what’s happening.”
“We have missionaries on the field who teach Allah is the God of the Bible,” Caner said, arguing that Allah is just the Arabic word for God.
“When a Mormon speaks about God, is it the same god,” he asked. “It’s the same word. Well what about Molech? … What about Baal?”
“Allah is not Jehovah,” Caner said. “I don’t care how many linguistic games you play. A camel by any other name cannot fly.”
Caner used an effeminate voice to re-enact a recent meeting quoting an evangelical he said stood up and apologized to the audience for what Caner had said.
“You don’t speak for me,” Caner said, mimicking the individual’s voice.
“Well speak for yourself,” Caner told the Pastors Conference audience, “but use a man’s voice.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.
Previous related stories:
Southern Baptist Leaders Join Critics of Anti-Quran Church Sign
SBC Leaders Intervened to Encourage Removal of Anti-Muslim Church Sign
Church Posting Anti-Muslim Message Leaves SBC