Tuesday, February 3, 2009


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I need not expound on the many benefits to be derived from the use of the Internet. It has enabled us to explore our world like never before. One of the biggest uses for the Internet is the sending and receiving of email. Ordinarily, I dont mind email forwarded to me from friends since I, too, have been "guilty" of forwarding email to friends that I think will find the subject matter interesting. However, I do have concerns about chain letters forwarded to me. Wikipedia defines a chain letter as ". . . a message that attempts to induce the recipient to make a number of copies of the letter and then pass them on to as many recipients as possible." Some of these chain letters describe: easy ways to make a quick buck, how to help find a missing child, how to claim an unclaimed inheritance, the need for charitable donations, and so forth. Youve seen them all. A little research will reveal many of these as hoaxes. We can delete these . . . no harm done. However, there are some chain letters that just cannot be ignored, especially those that attempt to belittle and smear.A chain letter, forwarded to me by a friend, included a document written by a prison minister (I won't provide a name at this time). According to this minister, the event described took place in May of 2003. It is likely that this chain letter has been sent throughout the United States and, very possibly, throughout the world. The following document was written by this minister:_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _Last month I attended my annual training session that's required for maintaining my state prison security clearance. During the training session there was a presentation by three speakers representing the Roman Catholic, Protestant and Muslim faiths who explained their belief systems. I was particularly interested in what the Islamic Imam had to say. The Imam gave a great presentation of the basics of Islam, complete with a video. After the presentations, time was provided for questions and answers. When it was my turn, I directed my question to the Imam and asked, "Please, correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that most Imams and clerics of Islam have declared a holy jihad [Holy war] against the infidels of the world and, that by killing an infidel, which is a command to all Muslims, they are assured of a place in heaven. If that's the case, can you give me the definition of an infidel?"There was no disagreement with my statements and without hesitation he replied, "Non-believers!" I responded, "So, let me make sure I have this straight. All followers of Allah have been commanded to kill everyone who is not of your faith so they can go to Heaven. Is that correct?" The ex-pression on his face changed from one of authority and command to that of a little boy who had just gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He sheepishly replied, "Yes." I then stated, "Well, sir, I have a real problem trying to imagine Pope John Paul commanding all Catholics to kill those of your faith or Pat Robertson or Dr. Stanley ordering Protestants to do the same in order to go to Heaven!" The Imam was speechless.I continued, "I also have a problem with being your friend when you and your brother clerics are telling your followers to kill me. Let me ask you a question! ...would you rather have your Allah who tells you to kill me in order to go to Heaven or my Jesus who tells me to love you because I am going to Heaven and wants you to be with me?" You could have heard a pin drop as the Imam hung his head in shame. Chuck Colson once told me something that has sustained me these 20 years of prison ministry. He said to me, "Rick, remember that the truth will prevail." And it will!_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _Unfortunately, many who received this slanderous email, probably accepted it's message as fact (probably because they wanted to). And, as with most chain letters, this sender encouraged the recipients to forward it to all of their contacts.Fortunately, there are responsible people out whose business it is to refute falsehoods and other untruths. BreakTheChain.org is once such organization. Their response to the minister's document follows: The veracity of the claims made in it, however, is the author's to prove. Unfortunately, the minister told BreakTheChain.org that he will not provide further details because, in his words, "I fear retribution - I have a 20 year prison ministry to protect."Third-party accounts of the events in question paint a significantly different picture than the one offered by the minister. Tim Kniest, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Corrections, told the Lee news service that the training session in question was for prison volunteers and took place in a corrections facility in Fulton, MO. However, according to Kniest, prison officials' recollection of events that day differ from the minister's in several aspects:
Religious leaders representing faiths followed by current inmates were invited to present. The presenter on Islam was not an Imam, but rather a Muslim inmate who was pressed into presenting after no Imam could be arranged. Prison officials confirm that the Muslim inmate was asked a few questions that he was unable to answer, but none along the lines of those suggested by the minister. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _So, as a person of faith, should I have replied to my friend? Yes, I think so. Therefore, I did respond to my friend's email, encouraging her to research this particular issue on her own. I suggested checking out the BreakTheChain.org web page. To avoid embarrassment to her, I did not copy the others that had received the same "chain letter." Happily, I did hear back and, fortunately, in a positive manner. She thanked me for providing a different side to the story. I feel that we all have the responsibility for questioning inflammatory email (and for that matter, any other falsehoods), researching the issue, and responding with the truth as revealed through our research. Research Links: http://www.breakthechain.org/exclusives/rickmathes.htmlhttp://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/allah.asp

--Written By Larry