Michael Coren interview: Why he believes Christianity is the most abused faith on Earth
Charles Lewis May 4, 2012 – 10:11 PM ET | Last Updated: May 4, 2012 10:14 PM ET
Peter J. Thompson/National Post
In his new book, Michael Coren calls Christianity the most abused faith on Earth. “I believe the evidence is overwhelming,” he writes.
Michael Coren is growing increasingly impatient. He sees the world around him becoming dangerously intolerant of Christianity. In the just-released Heresy: The Lies They Spread About Christianity, his 14th book, he writes that Christianity has become the most abused faith on Earth. “I believe the evidence is overwhelming … that Christianity is the main, central, most common, and most thoroughly and purposefully marginalized, obscured, and publicly and privately mis-represented belief system in the final decades of the twentieth century and the opening years of the twenty-first century.” He rails that the same intellectual class that so quickly condemns anything Christian will do cartwheels to explain away Islamic terrorism. National Post religion reporter Charles Lewis spoke to Mr. Coren in his Toronto home this week about his latest book — the second in a year in which the broadcaster does battle with Christianity’s enemies — and the place of Christians in what he sees as a hostile world.
Q: You start off in Heresy with the statement that Christianity has become the “most thoroughly and purposely marginalized belief system in the world.” Certainly Christians are under physical threat in much of the Middle East and Africa. But is that really the case here?
A: There’s a radical difference in the life of a Christian in the Islamic world and the life of a Christian in the West. And any North American Christian who says we’re being persecuted should really hold on a minute. This is not the same as the Coptic Christians being in physical danger in Egypt.
Q: So how do you see things here in Canada and in the West in general?
A: Christians are marginalized, they’re mocked, they’re told their views don’t belong, they’re told to keep their views out of the public square and keep their religion at home. And where it can be quite sinister is at universities where Christian students they’re told that their ideas are stupid. I’ve even seen it with my children who are in university. Somehow Christianity is not a valid area of thought any longer. You can bring your socialism, your feminism, your homosexuality, your anti-Zionism into the class but if you bring your Christianity that’s not to be taken seriously.
Q: But there is a lot about Christianity that can seem unreal: the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection of Jesus. Is it any surprise that people sometimes have trouble taking it seriously?
A: Christians are mocked for believing in the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection but really what they are mocked for is the moral consequences of their beliefs: that life begins at conception and ends at natural death, that abortion is wrong, that promiscuity is wrong. We live in a culture where no one wants to hear the word “no.”
Q: There is a tone of exacerbation in your book. Are you getting fed up with have to defend your faith?
A: When you get it from intelligent people it’s particularly irritating, because they will give other ideologies and other religions a great deal of room to try to understand. When it comes to Christianity they seem to assume that any sense of fairness or sympathy should be thrown out the window. They will say things that are blatantly stupid and that’s irritating.
Q: Like what?
A: To say Hitler once said he was a Christian so he must have been a Christian and Nazism came out of Christianity. Nazism was the antithesis of Christianity. The idea that because a tiny number of Catholic priests acted in an appalling manner should jaundice everything said by the Roman Catholic Church is also so illogical. You might as well say that no comment by a Canadian should ever be taken seriously because there are some serial killers in Canada.
Q: In the book you say how angry you are that Anders Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer, is constantly referred to as a Christian. Yet before it was known who the perpetrator was most people assumed it was a Muslim. If it’s okay to label one criminal with his religion, why not the other?
A: When the Norwegian massacre took place I said the chances are that this is a Muslim attack. I said that because there had been an attack in Sweden by Muslim groups and because Muslim groups had been promising they would attack Norway and because there are thousands of attacks every year by Muslims. It was a perfectly good assumption given all the evidence.
Q: But who is to say that these Muslim terrorists are devout Muslims and that the Christians are not devout?
A: Muslims read the Koran just before they attack and declare what they’re doing is in the name of Allah. The Koran supports violent acts. And I’m afraid many ordinary Muslims rejoice in these attacks. But no where in the New Testament does Jesus justify violence. Jesus never led armies and was not a warlord. The few Christians who do these terrible things do it despite their Christian faith. Those Muslims who commit acts of terrorism do it because of their faith. Breivik hadn’t been in a church in 17 years. There is just no evidence for Christian terrorism today.
Q: But I’m sure a lot of ordinary Muslims would disagree with you, especially those living in Canada.
A: I did a radio show and a Muslim called and said, “Well I believe it’s wrong to attack Christianity and I think you would find most every Muslim in the world would agree with me.” And I said: ‘Sir, I cannot listen to this. I’ve held a Bible soaked in the blood of Nigerian Christians slaughtered by Muslim fanatics. I’ve held the bullets fired from the guns of Muslim fanatics attacking Christians in a Baghdad church. There’s not a Muslim country in the world where Christians are treated with absolute equality.’
Q: Do Christians in Canada stand up for themselves enough or are they cowed by secular society telling them to keep their religion at home or in the church?
A: First of all, forget mainstream Protestants (Anglican, United Church, etc.). They’re barely Christian anymore, and they’ll accept anything.
Q: What about Catholics? In Ontario a new anti-bullying bill, Bill 13, now in second reading, would allow the formation of gay-straight alliances in Catholic schools yet there seems to have been little protest.
A: I think certainly Roman Catholics and evangelicals should have stood up more to Bill 13. We are being told our view on homosexuality is somehow wrong.
Darren Calabrese/National Post
Q: Could the Catholic Church leaders be afraid of being labeled homophobic?
A: They’re going to be called homophobic whatever they do. I think the Catholic Church has spent too much time worrying about the reaction it might get rather than reacting itself.
Q: Let’s talk about homosexuality a bit more. The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts represents “grave depravity” and “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered … and under no circumstances can they be approved.” It also says gay people should be loved and respected. You say you have gay friends. Wouldn’t most gay people be insulted by being told their behaviour is “intrinsically disordered?”
A: If someone calls me a homophobe because I believe marriage is between one man and one woman, then I would rejoice in that. But frankly, with gay friends, I try to avoid the subject. They know I am opposed to gay marriage and they also know I’m fond of them as people and would defend them against personal attack. But let me be clear, anyone who hates gay people is a moral criminal.
Q: But a gay person might still ask, how can you be my friend when you think what I do is “intrinsically disordered.”
A: First, I would never use the same language as the Catholic Church. It sounds too clinical. A young gay woman once asked me if God loved her. I told her, ‘We all face challenges. You are loved as a person but you are more than your sexuality. We’re all sinners and we’re all struggling. I just can’t affirm homosexual behaviour.”
Q: I was surprised you devoted a chapter to Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. It seemed odd to me you would choose something that is now fairly old and forgotten. Even Opus Dei, who were portrayed as assassins, no longer seem to care.
A: Well, it has influenced millions of people. They’ve been led by the book to read other books that oppose Christianity. Brown quotes real people and he makes a lot of it seem like non-fiction. I thought it was worth taking on again. I wanted to make sure that what is in The Da Vinci Code is just not true.
Q: In Heresy you say one of the myths is that Christians are obsessed with abortion. But in the chapter on abortion you too seem obsessed with it. Can you explain what you were getting at?
A: Christians, I believe, react so strongly to abortion, so intensely because they’re part of an institution given by God — so they feel it more when the most vulnerable are destroyed. And they feel it more intensely than other people. I guess we are obsessed because it is such a tragedy. And if we dare to mention it, the world tells us to be quiet.