Good-Bye to the Cross
by Erwin Lutzer
In a provocative article titled “Away with Crucifixes, Crosses, and Christmas,” Daniel Pipes, the founder and director of Middle East Forum, documents specific examples of how Muslims have demanded the removal of crosses on display in public places, particularly in Europe. For example, in England, the chief inspector of prisons, Anne Owers, prohibited prison officials from wearing St. George’s Cross tiepins, even though this cross appears on the national flag of England. Muslims complained about the cross’s supposed connection to the Crusades—never mind the fact St. George was executed by the Roman emperor Diocletian in 303, a few centuries before the time of Muhammad, and even more centuries before the Crusades took place.
Pipes also reported about a Turkish lawyer who, in 2007, was watching a Champions League soccer match and became offended when he noted that the Inter Milan team’s uniform had a large red cross on it. He filed a complaint, seeking damages for himself and a large fine against Inter Milan because the uniforms displayed a “Crusader-style” cross that allegedly represented “Western racist superiority over Islam.” He also wanted the results of the game annulled.
A respondent to Pipes’ article observed it’s interesting that Muslims should take offense to the cross, but Christians cannot take offense to public displays of the Islamic faith. He mentioned the Saudi flag, which carries the statement, “There is no deity but God and Muhammad is his Messenger,” beneath which appears a sword. What if Christians were to say they were offended by that statement and the image of the sword? Unfortunately, the so-called cultural sensitivity today works in only one direction. Hospitals and prisons in Western countries are asked to remove the cross, but that could never be requested of the crescent in Muslim-majority lands.
In April 2009, senior staff at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, Australia ordered that crucifixes, Bibles, and other Christian symbols be removed from the hospital chapel so that Muslims, Hindus, and other non-Christians would not be offended. And in 2010, Muslim patients objected to crosses in the surgical department of Bad Soden hospital in Frankfurt, Germany, so employees removed them. Such actions are becoming increasingly common in hospitals in Western nations.
With the rise of Muslim influence in the Western world, we can expect many more requests that Christian symbols be removed or prohibited. Politically correct government and administrative officials, unable to make appropriate religious judgments, bend over backward to accommodate Muslims who are allegedly offended by symbols or expressions of the Christian faith. They are typically all too eager to appease Muslims, figuring that the removal of so-called offensive symbols will ensure peaceful relations. But what they are really doing is censoring expressions of the Christian faith while freely permitting expressions of the Islamic faith. In a good-faith effort to exhibit tolerance toward Islam, Western governments are actually encouraging the intolerance exhibited by Islam.
As Western leaders increasingly cave to Muslim demands that infringe on freedom of religion, it would be easy for us to get discouraged about the erosion of our religious liberties. But these attacks on the cross should inspire us to be all the more eager to carry our cross for Christ. Jesus urged us to take up the cross and follow Him. That is a high honor indeed. May we never let cultural pressures diminish the cross in our churches or our lives. Instead, may we echo the words of the apostle Paul in Galatians 6:14: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
Taken from: The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent. Copyright © 2013 by Erwin W. Lutzer. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. Used by permission.