Religious converts

  • Follow Your Faith

Kelley Culver grew up in Houston as a Southern Baptist; Fatima Khiyaty was reared Catholic just outside of Cleveland; and Sonja Ozturk was brought up in a Lutheran family in Green Bay, Wis.

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Sarah Ozturk, 13, watches the proceedings during afternoon prayers with her mother, her sister Selma and Betul.  Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
Sarah Ozturk, 13, watches the proceedings during afternoon prayers with her mother, her sister Selma and Betul.

Today, these Augusta-area residents are far from where they started out -- geographically and spiritually.

Mr. Culver made a pit stop as a Methodist before converting to Catholicism six years ago.

Mrs. Khiyaty and Mrs. Ozturk left Christianity altogether and are now Muslims.

They are not alone.

Although some people live their lives content with being part of one denomination or faith, others change denominations or switch to a different religion altogether.

Changing from one denomination to another within Christianity is not that unusual, said the Rev. Don Saliers, a Methodist minister and an adjunct professor of theology and worship at Emory University.

"Because of the ecumenical context in American Christianity and a lot more social mobility, shifting from one denomination to another is very different from 50 years ago, though in radical conversion experiences, there can still be great personal trauma," he said. "But shifting denominations is quite common. There is much more 'church shopping' when a family now moves to a new city.

"Often, denominational differences are 'trumped' by convenience, or by such factors as a good children's program or social activities at a given local church."

Steve Tipton, a professor of sociology and religion at Emory University's Candler School of Theology, said there is "a lot more denominational switching going on now than a few years ago and indeed a generation ago."

"The rates increase with education and age together, and in particular with intermarriage," he said. "If the Christian woman or man marries a Muslim, one of them is likelier to convert.

"But there's a kind of footnoted pattern with particularly younger folks with a lot of education who marry. They're a little less likely to convert one or the other."

The rates of switching are higher within Protestant denominations than across faiths, he said.

When switching major religions -- such as Christianity to Muslim or Judaism to Christianity -- a lot more is involved, the Rev. Saliers said.

"The conversion from one religion to another requires a much deeper change of relationships -- family ties, cultural setting and context -- than does most inter-Christian conversions or changes," he said.

Mr. Culver, Mrs. Khiyaty, Mrs. Ozturk and the Rev. Steve Rice shared their stories of their paths of faith change.

Reach C. Samantha McKevie at (706) 823-3552 or samantha.mckevie@augustachronicle.com.

LOOK AT THE CHANGES

Barry Kosmin is co-author of Religion in a Free Market, a book that presents the results of the American Religious Identification Survey. The survey tracked adult Americans by their religious traditions and ethnicity from 1990-2001.


In its chapter on religious switching, the book states that "about 16 percent of the nation's population reported that at some point in their lives they had changed their religious preference or identification."


WHO'S MOVING WHERE


Catholics, Methodists, Protestants in general and Jews were among the groups that had significantly higher percentages of people switching out of their faiths.


General Christians, Pentecostals, non-denominationals, evangelicals, Muslims and Buddhists had higher percentages of people switching into their faiths.


The biggest trend he found, though, is a switch to no religion at all, which was the choice of many of the people who left Catholicism, Methodism and Islam, he said.


"The other big trend is mainline, the old people, becoming born-again and joining evangelicals, non-denominational or Christian churches.


In two thirds of marriages where one person switched to the other's religion, it was the woman who switched to make the accommodations, he said.


The switch to Islam occurs mainly among black men and among women who marry Muslims, he said.

FATIMA KHIYATY

FAITH JOURNEY: Catholic to Muslim

HER STORY: Fatima Khiyaty went to a Catholic school as a girl. When her parents divorced, she and her mother moved around a lot but went to church less, and she started going to church with friends. Then, in her early teens, she "lost all interest altogether" and stopped going, she said.

"I guess it's what people did -- gossiping, you go to church and everybody's all good and the minute they walk out of there it's, 'Let's go have a drink' and cussing and doing things they know they shouldn't be," she said. "And it's like 'let's be religious for one day out of the week.' It seemed fake to me."

Two years ago, though, the 47-year-old mother of three felt she needed change and guidance.

"I wasn't leading a very good life. I was drinking, smoking," said Mrs. Khiyaty, who works at a veterinary clinic. "It was like I led two different lives, one life at work and one life at home."

She began discussing Islam with people online, became interested and started researching it, she said. She also talked about the religion with a Pakistani friend. She liked a lot of what she learned, especially the family aspect.

Mrs. Khiyaty did more studying, and in March 2006 at the Augusta mosque, she recited the Shahadah, the Islamic testament of faith, and made the conversion official.

"You say that, then afterwards you go home, you take a shower and all your sins have been washed away; all the sins that you have done up until that point have been forgiven and you start fresh," she said. "And then from that moment on you become Muslim."

Mrs. Khiyaty said she was always a believer in God; she just now calls him Allah. She reveres Jesus as a prophet but "never did really believe the story" of Jesus as it is explained in Christianity.

Since then, she has married a Muslim, Radouane Khiyaty. She does not impose the religion on her daughters, two of whom are adults and one is in high school. She was concerned about how her daughters would feel about her decision since her dress code and other things would change, but said they were very accepting. In fact, over the years she had not been close with her mother or other family members, but has made amends with them.

"This faith is more family focused," she said. "There's a big emphasis on family, your mother and father are very important. ... Everything is based around family."

Not everybody was so accepting, though. After she started wearing the hijab (head cover) to work, some of her customers stopped coming.

"And these were people who had known me for years," she said, "but they didn't agree with me being a Muslim."

Her life is better now, though, she said.

"I'm more calm as a person; I try to be considerate of others; I don't drink or smoke; and it seems that, it's just, my inner peace -- I feel good about myself," she said. "I'm one type of person, same whether at home, at work; or wherever; I'm the same person."

SONJA OZTURK

FAITH JOURNEY: Lutheran to Muslim

HER STORY: Attending a Lutheran church where she was active with youth groups in Green Bay, Wis., Sonja Ozturk had questions.

"Mostly revolving around the concept of the Trinity, just conceptualizing it and how can Jesus be God when Jesus is a person?" she said.

Her teacher explained that Jesus was God's only son, on Earth as a man for a while.

"It just never sat well with me. I thought I was just too young to understand, that it was more than my young mind (could) grasp," said Mrs. Ozturk, 42. "There were a lot of things in the church that I liked, but that was the biggest problem for me."

Her curiosity followed her to college where, in a 1984 freshman English class, she studied the Bible "as literature, not as the Word of God," and found the Bible's "different man-made versions upsetting and puzzling," she said.

"I guess that was what started me on my quest. It was never my faith, my belief in a one-God concept. My quest was more about who is Jesus," she said.

The following summer while taking a chemistry class, she met Haluk Ozturek, a Muslim from Turkey. They would often discuss science and God, and she was surprised to learn how much they had in common regarding their faiths.

"The more we studied believing in one creator, we learned we both believed in the same prophets," she said. "And I was wondering why I didn't know about Muhammad, so in addition to investigating Jesus, I also began to investigate Muhammad."

Three years later, they married in a Lutheran church. She remained Lutheran, and her husband never forced his religion on her. He would accompany her to church sometimes, she said.

Their dialogue continued.

"I liked how my husband explained Islam, and that it was a personal relationship with God. In Islam there's no original sin; you're not born into sin, you're born at the will of God. It's peace through an action called submission," she said. "And I liked that he just was very confident in his faith and the things he told me about his faith just made sense.

"It wasn't anything extraordinary to try to deal with, like a Trinity-type scenario, or tenant. It seemed very straightforward and uncomplicated."

The couple had three daughters -- now 11, 13 and 15 -- who are reared Muslim. Mrs. Ozturk continued to read and discuss questions about Jesus and Muhammad with clergy and lay people. More than looking for a religious label, she said, she was openly investigating what she did and did not believe in.

In 1998, a Christian clergyman she talked to told her she was having a spiritual crisis and recommended a book by Episcopal priest Marcus Borg that discusses a pre-Easter and post-Easter Jesus.

"It really helped me understand what was factually known about Jesus and what was conjured about him, and I just confirmed that I believed in the historical Jesus," she said. "And my views just seemed to be lining up with Islam more and more."

Soon after, while at the mosque with her daughter, she read things that she could not refute, she said.

"I ultimately accepted Islam in 2000. I think I became Muslim in my mind and heart in '98, but it took me until 2000 to make the public profession of faith, the Shahadah," she said. "And I think part of that was (that) I'm just a very thorough person and what I do, I knew I wouldn't be entering it lightly and I knew it took me some time to get used to the idea."

Since then, she has been unhappy about mean looks she said she gets, and about people accusing her of converting because of force from her husband, who she said has been patient throughout her faith journey.

It also took her parents time to adjust. They'd been disappointed that she did not baptize her children.

She's happy about her choice.

"I feel very satisfied and very at peace," she said. "I feel like I do have a personal relationship with God, feel like I know my role in creation and I feel freedom from having surrendered."

KELLEY CULVER

WHAT: Catholic moral theology instructor, Aquinas High School

FAITH JOURNEY: Southern Baptist to United Methodist to Catholic

HIS STORY: When he was 11, Kelley Culver was baptized at a Southern Baptist Church in Houston.

"I was getting pressure from the pastor and I made a commitment," he said. "I don't know if it really was a heartfelt action. It was something I felt obligated to do at that age."

Mr. Culver, 54, said he grew up in a "normal situation" in his Southern Baptist family, and even went on to graduate from a Southern Baptist college. There, though, he challenged his professors.

"I got caught up in secular humanism, saying that God is a product of man, that science explains all," he said. "As a teenager I was in the church, but I don't know if I was totally committed to it."

As an adult, he said, he wasn't comfortable with the Southern Baptist church.

"I felt like they believed that if you're not Southern Baptist, you're condemned to hell, that this is the only true religion," he said. "That didn't seem right. I didn't think Christ intended to have this separation."

Mr. Culver, who retired from the Air Force at Fort Gordon in 1995, traveled for years in the military, rarely attending church. As retirement neared, he decided he needed God in his life and was drawn to the Methodist Church because of social justice issues. When he was a Southern Baptist, much of his mission work had been done through sending money away to other mission workers, but he liked the hands-on mission work he did with the Methodists and served as a Methodist youth minister for a few years.

Twelve years ago, he began teaching math and science and was an assistant principal at Aquinas. The Catholic high school respected what he was, he said.

"People thought I'd go be converted to Catholicism by the school and the teachers," he said. "But the school never pressured me."

Still, being at a Catholic school, he wanted to know more about the religion. He began studying it and "really felt at home," he said.

He went to a Methodist conference as a delegate and found himself uncomfortable with the direction the Methodist Church was headed socially, in terms of views on abortion and other issues.

He began focusing more on Catholicism. He realized there were a lot if misunderstandings and misconceptions about how Catholics approach Mary, confession and the involvement of saints in the church.

In an effort to not have people accusing the school of making him convert, he began studying on his own and privately with a Catholic deacon. He also did the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program, which explains aspects of the faith.

Mr. Culver converted to Catholicism six years ago. Since then, he has taught the program at Fort Gordon for five years and Catholic classes at Aquinas for four.

"It was really a matter of transitions in the Methodist Church, some of the changes the church was beginning to go through in how they approached some of the social issues," he said. I felt like I had found a home in the Catholic Church, like all the answers I had been struggling with all my life suddenly all became clear."

His students too, he said, were a part of the catalyst for his change in faith.

"A lot of people still think it was the faculty and school, but really it was my students," he said. "I saw such a vibrant life in them and the way they were committed."

He initially caught some flak from his Southern Baptist mother.

"When I told my mom, the first thing she said was, 'Well, you're OK, except that y'all worship Mary,' " he said. "I told her that's not true. That's a misconception."

When he thinks about it, the change to Catholicism surprises even him.

"It's kind of an interesting thing. I had told someone when I started at Aquinas, I'd never be a Catholic," he said. "Now I couldn't see myself being anything else."

THE REV. STEVE RICE

WHAT: Rector, St. Michael's Episcopal Church, Waynesboro, Ga.

FAITH JOURNEY: United Methodist to Episcopalian

HIS STORY: The Greenwood, S.C., native said he "discovered God and answered the call to ordained ministry" in the Methodist Church.

"I had a wonderful church with wonderful clergy, teachers, youth leaders, and friends," he said. "Some of my closest friendships were forged in my home church, and the lessons learned continue to influence my life and ministry."

The Rev. Rice was a United Methodist pastor for five years. He said that as he continued to reflect theologically, he strongly felt that the sacraments of the church, especially the Holy Eucharist, should be central to the life of the body of Christ. Though he felt the United Methodist Church elevated the Holy Eucharist with great importance, the weekly celebration and centrality the Episcopal Church places on the Eucharist matched what he was feeling inside, he said.

"I began to see worship as not only the corporate expression of faith by the assembled church, but also as the formative identity," he said. "While I've always heard 'we are what we eat,' I began to feel as Christians 'we are how we worship.' The tradition of Anglican worship embodied in the Book of Common Prayer (the book of Episcopal worship) met the liturgical and theological needs my soul was craving."

The point came, the Rev. Rice said, that he could no longer serve as a United Methodist pastor without betraying his theological convictions.

"I wasn't mad with the Methodists, nor did I think they were wrong, but my heart, mind, and soul had found a match in the Episcopal Church," he said. "I did not feel it was fair to the church I served nor was it fair to me, to continue being United Methodist when I felt Episcopalian."

The Rev. Rice said he contacted the Rev. Robert Fain, the rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd, and arranged a meeting with the Episcopal bishop of Georgia. They discussed his call and the possibilities for ordination in the Episcopal Church. The most memorable part of the meeting, he said, was seeing a large painting of Anglican priests John and Charles Wesley, the founders of Methodism, hanging in the bishop's office.

"That icon made me feel that I did not have to jettison my United Methodist formation, but could in fact celebrate it," he said.

"Leaving the United Methodist Church and joining the Episcopal Church was both the hardest and easiest thing I've ever done in my life," the Rev. Rice said. "I feel completely at home. While every denomination or faith tradition has moments when the frailty of human leadership creates challenges, the Episcopal Church contains the history, theology, polity, liturgy, and biblical fidelity I had been looking for."

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RedQuinoa
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RedQuinoa 02/02/08 - 10:26 am
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One would NEVER see a

One would NEVER see a reciprocal story like this coming out of the Muslim world. In Muslim countries, anyone who converts from Islam, and is either courageous or foolish enough to publicize it, runs the risk of real trouble - subjection to harsh persecution and ostracism at best... loss of job, loss of family; and at worst, one could be killed for it! (This isn't unique to Islam, either; Hinduism is another example, but less frequently). This conversion thing is really a one-way street - and it underscores the value of religious freedom that we Americans enjoy and often take for granted. While I don't agree with conversion to Islam, I do appreciate the fact that anyone can do it at any time they choose. That's a freedom worth protecting. Count your blessings, Americans!

aladienfadel
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aladienfadel 02/02/08 - 12:15 pm
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Special thanks to C. Samantha

Special thanks to C. Samantha McKevie. In this article and other articles she gave us a reason to celebrate religious diversity. The more we learn about other religions the more we can feel that our shared values are more than our differnces in explaining our articles of faith. We are humans and limited by our physical senses. Our differences are mainly in the area which is beyound our senses and natural laws.

Although the term "convert" is accepted, the process is actually finding a different path to God.

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 02/02/08 - 03:04 pm
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This article was pretty

This article was pretty one-sided. Yes, there are some similarities. But, none of the very important differences between religions are explained. For example, Islam teaches Jesus was NOT crucified. Christianity and both Roman/Jewish historical accounts teach that he WAS crucified. Obviously, someone is right and someone (i.e., the Koran) is wrong. Celebrating such "diversity" is in reality an attempt to sacrifice truth -- which is always the most serious casuality when such conversions occur. There are far more important DIFFERENCES among religions than commonalities. I also question the "Christianity" of the woman who converted to Islam because she found a "relationship" with God. Because this relationship is the very core idea of Christianity, it is obvious that she never really understood even the basics of Christianity in the first place. I'd like to see Ms. McKevie bring some balance to this issue and relate some of the many accounts of people who left religion and found a relationship with God as an evangelical Christian. But sadly, you seldom hear the truth of those stories.

Bizarro
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Bizarro 02/02/08 - 11:08 pm
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Absolutely howcanweknow that

Absolutely howcanweknow that is the defining difference between Christianity and Islam-Christianity is a relationship with God and Islam you can't have a relationship. Further why would any WOMAN convert to a religion that represses women world wide and treats them like property.

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 02/02/08 - 11:36 pm
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Or sends them (especially

Or sends them (especially women with Down's Syndrom) into a crowded market place and blows them up? I don't understand either. I attended an Islamic funeral once, and saw the hopeless of it. Everyone was begging Allah to please take this person into heaven. In stark contrast, heaven is a guarantee for the Christian who has put their faith in Christ as Savior. Christians need not fear death because of their RELATIONSHIP to their God. Muslims, apparently, can never be sure because they have no real relationship. Islam is a works-based system that fails. Christianity is a grace-based system that works.

Rose87
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Rose87 02/03/08 - 01:20 am
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We have had the pleasure of

We have had the pleasure of being neighbors of the Ozturks for many years and could not have better neighbors. We are Christians and we respect their beliefs and they respect ours. We had a tragedy in our family last year that was almost to much to bear, and they were there from the beginning to help out with anything that came up. They came over daily for weeks to help out or just be a listening ear. We feel that although we have different faiths that we still love each other and can trust each other. We are not ignorant of what is going on in the world but we have seen their love in action and not just have someone talk about it. They do not condone the actions of the terrorists any more than we do. And this is not a family where the women are oppressed or suppressed. This is a family of 3 very fun loving, intelligent and very active young ladies who love sports, the Wii, and school activities.

condelieeza
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condelieeza 02/03/08 - 04:30 am
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i want me a muslim woman, i

i want me a muslim woman, i hear they know how to submit.aint nothin like a woman in submission. bring on the burkas,
love, infidel

He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named
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He_Who_Must_Not_Be_Named 02/03/08 - 07:18 am
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Nice post condeliezza, but

Nice post condeliezza, but why stop at one muslim woman? I hear they don't mind if you have like 6 or 7.

dani
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dani 02/03/08 - 09:33 am
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Now truthfully. Isn't this

Now truthfully. Isn't this just too sweet.

The_Last_Word
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The_Last_Word 02/03/08 - 10:01 am
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Eat Organic, you have

Eat Organic, you have insulted Mohammed! Many of my brothers and sisters have converted from Islam to become an infidel! Ahmed renounced his belief in Islam and was stoned to death just yesterday. Jabbar married a foreign woman and converted to Christianity a month ago - you can still see his head impaled on the beam of his destroyed home in our fine city! Mariam dated a man of Christian descent - after raping her, her cousins executed her. So you can see Muslims are allowed to covert - they are just not allowed to live while converted! So, Eat Organic (if that is your real name) - apologize!

tfh
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tfh 02/03/08 - 12:05 pm
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John 14:6 Jesus says, "I am

John 14:6 Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, but through me." Although I am a member of a baptist church, I don't identify myself as a "Baptist." I identify myself as a Christian, a follower of Christ. Just because you can't comprehend the concept of the Trinity doesn't make it false. God's ways are mysterious. He's God after all! There are extremists in any religion. Muslims, for example, are a very peaceful people. You wouldn't think that from the media's perspective. There are professing Christians who are standing on street corners telling homosexuals that God hates them. Don't judge a religion based on these psychotic maniacs. Don't believe a religion just because it was what you were always taught. Know what you believe and why you believe it. Christianity makes sense. People can't grasp it because it is faith-based not work- based. They can comprehend "grace." And as humans-if we can't put our hands around it, it must not be true. Today, we have this belief that if it doesn't work for me if must not be true. Absurd! Read "The Case for Christ" & "The Case for Faith" by Lee Strobel ...

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 02/04/08 - 01:20 pm
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Ms. Ozturk recommends a book

Ms. Ozturk recommends a book by Marcus Borg. By his own admission, Borg is a pantheist -- which is NOT Christian at all. How can anyone believe anything he might say about Christianity? So, Ms. Ozturk really had a very poor understanding of real Christianity. No wonder she fell victim to the deceit of Islam. She was not grounded in the truth of Christianity at all. By her own admission she had a hard time understanding Christianity, but found Islam simple and easy. If that's all she was looking for, I guess she found it. Sad. I agree with TFH: forget Borg and read Strobel. There's where you find the truth derived from honest investigation of the facts.

papersonja
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papersonja 02/09/08 - 12:29 am
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tfh and others...For that

tfh and others...For that matter, how can one believe King James? Who anyway is the author of the New Revised Standard of the Bible or many of the other published versions of the Bible? I'll answer my own question--NOT God chosen men. As a muslim who reverted to Islam, not converted, it may surprise you to learn that I believe in the original God revealed Bible, not any man's version. I don't have a faith named after a man, Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) as in Christianity or Judas as in Judism. Islam is named not after Muhammad (pbuh) but after an ACTION called submission, as in submitting one's will and life to God. I have no intercessors to access Him. It is a direct relationship. I like that. I studied thoroughly what my Lutheran Christian tradition taught. I studied Martin Luther, and learned that one cannot be saved by grace alone but also by WORKS. I attended St. Olaf College, where my faith was greatly challenged by Professors of Religion. I understood fully the faith I was brought up in, the faith I was leaving and why I was leaving it. I knew what I was embracing in reverting to Islam. Please read I Corinthians 11: 5, 6 and 13 and Isaiah 21:13

papersonja
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papersonja 02/09/08 - 01:24 am
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Did you know the Trinity was

Did you know the Trinity was expunged from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible in 1952 and 1971? Did you know the King James Version authorized its inclusion in 1611? Just wanted to share. Did you know that Islam was first to grant women rights to inheritance and property? Check it out for yourselves. Did you know Christians used to fast regularly, purify their bodies before worship (Exodus 40:31-32, Acts 21:26), bow (Psalm 95:6), prostrate (Joshua 5:14, Numbers 20:6), and women cover their heads in prayer (I Corinthians 11:5,6,13)? I still do these things as a muslim woman. Did you know that the Bible prophesizes not only about Jesus' coming but also Muhammad's (Isaiah 21:7)? "And he saw a chariot with a couple horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels.." Jesus came upon an [filtered word], Muhammad upon a camel. Did you know that "The burden upon Arabia..." (Isaiah 21:13) means the responsibility of the Arab Muslims, and of course now of all Muslims, to spread the message of Islam? Please do not perpetuate negative stereotypes. Check your facts so ignorance does not spread. Alleluia, Alleluia. Did you know that means praise be to Allah?

papersonja
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papersonja 02/09/08 - 01:36 am
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To Donna: Thank you Donna for

To Donna:

Thank you Donna for you kind words. I am truly blessed to have you for a neighbor. You and your family are in my heart forever.

Thank you also for your awareness of the differences between culture and religion.

May the peace which surpasses all human understanding be yours.

Love and peace to you my neighbor and my friend,
Sonja

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 02/09/08 - 01:43 pm
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Papersonja, I don't know what

Papersonja, I don't know what "Bible" you've been reading, but the word "Muhammad" is NOT in there. You have to be very inventive with the text and context to come up with such an outrageous notion. What is this nonsense about being saved by WORKS? There is NOTHING that a person can do to earn salvation at all. It's grace through faith. Such saving faith will be evidenced by "good works", for sure, but it is not the works that save. Only Jesus Christ (peace be upon ONLY Him) can save. Jesus Christ was not just a man. He was and is God incarnate. Muhammed was only a man, and a deceiver. I too do not put much stock in man-made translations of the Bible. To get at the pure truth, you have to consult the original Hebrew and Greek texts -- which have NOT been altered by man. Those texts are accurate, unlike the Koran which is not supported by historical fact (see above). So, Islam is based on inaccuracies and lies, and has deceived you. I pray you'll come back to the truth.

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 02/09/08 - 01:55 pm
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If you want to know what the

If you want to know what the Bible really says about Islam, read the opening of the Book of Hebrews. To summarize, God's Word is clear that up until the time of Christ, God used many prophets and ways to communicate with man. But, when God came to earth in the form of a man, Jesus, the days of the prophets ended. God was now speaking with us directly, and He was the final authority. In other words, there are NO PROPHETS AFTER JESUS, this includes Muhammed, Joseph Smith, Charles Russel, etc. Anyone who came after Jesus Christ but claimed to have a "new and improved" revelation from God is a deceiver. We are instructed not to follow their lies, but study and follow only the teaching of Jesus Christ alone. So yes, Muhammed is mentioned indirectly in the Bible -- alluded to right there in Hebrews 1:1-2. And, that's not a man's imperfect translation either. That's a direct interpretation of the Greek text. Since the Bible is an honored book of truth to you, how do you now interpret the anti-Christian teachings of Muhammed?

papersonja
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papersonja 02/10/08 - 02:07 pm
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To Brother Fadel...yes, a new

To Brother Fadel...yes, a new path to God. That succinctly descibes my experience. I admire your knowledge and application of it. May you be greatly rewarded.

papersonja
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papersonja 02/10/08 - 02:20 pm
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To Samantha McKevie, Thank

To Samantha McKevie,
Thank you for your interview and subsequent article. Your reporting of my new path to God is appreciated and I hope it helps dispel some untruths that are abound concerning Islam.

For the record, I do not wear the head covering at times other than during prescribed prayer, nor do my daughters. If one were to see me out and about in the community, and apply a stereotypical label based on my apprearance, it would mostly likely be a "white anglo-saxon protestant." If I said something during our telephone interview about "not liking mean looks" I apologize, because I have never, never had such an experience.

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 02/10/08 - 10:30 pm
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Jesus Christ is the Way to

Jesus Christ is the Way to God. All other roads lead away from God.

papersonja
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papersonja 02/15/08 - 07:08 pm
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Dear howcanweknow, Please

Dear howcanweknow, Please know I do not want to argue only to converse. What I mostly want you to know is that I studied the Christian faith my parents gave me very deeply, and knew well what that faith said, and knew exactly why I was leaving it. I did not immediately embrace Islam. I searched long and hard. I embraced Islam without coercion. For what it is worth I was taught that the original Bible and Jesus (peace be upon him) used the Aramaic language, which is close to Arabic. I learned this from Christian Biblical Scholars who taught religion at the Christian college I attended for 2 years before transferring to a state school. Jesus (pbuh) did not speak Hebrew or Greek from what I have read and learned. The writing of the Bible translations to which you refer occurred many years after Jesus' (pbuh) time on Earth. You may be surprised to know that as a muslim I do believe Jesus (pbuh) will come again. He is the Messiah. I believe in His virgin birth to Mary (pbuh). We have all that in common as well as fasting, praying, giving, and obeying God's laws which were revealed to guide and protect us not to frustrate or burden us. Alleluia and Amen.

howcanweknow
2306
Points
howcanweknow 02/15/08 - 11:18 pm
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Thank you, Sonja. Despite the

Thank you, Sonja. Despite the fact that there are indeed some similarities between Christianity and Islam, there are some very irreconcilable differences. The most important being that Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ was God (Allah?) incarnate. In contrast, Islam says that Jesus was only a second-rate prophet (compared to Muhammed). Therefore, Christianity and Islam will always be at odds over this central fact. The biblical writings did not occur "many years" after Jesus' time, but most probably occured within a single generation. And, you know that the Bible says it is God-inspired, and therefore accurate. It was not a human invention. The Bible teaches Jesus was crucified. Roman and Jewish historians from the 1st century verify this historical event. The Koran, however, denies this historical fact. So, obviously the Koran is in error. How much more of it is error as well? Remember, Satan need only change 1-2 important facts to get someone totally off track from the truth. That is apparently what he has done with Islam to deceive even the most well-intentioned spiritual people. I pray you'll consider this truth, and that God will lead you back to the truth of Christ.

papersonja
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papersonja 02/17/08 - 10:21 pm
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You are absolutely correct

You are absolutely correct that a few changes here and there distort and corrupt the truth. That is exactly why I left Christianity because men ruined it (King James, The Nicene Council, etc). Yes, I believe in the original Bible as revealed, the emphasis being on ORIGINAL. Karen Armstrong, Marcus Borg and many other religious scholars and intellectuals agree that Biblical writings from the oral traditions occurred 60 years after Jesus' (pbuh) time on Earth leaving plenty of room for error.

Please know that Jesus (pbuh) is not a second rate prophet in Islam. ALL prophets are highly revered in Islam. I believe Jesus (pbuh) walked on Earth, spoke of love, and performed miracles. Please take that away from our converstation. Muhammad (pbuh) is not better or higher than Jesus (pbuh). I love them both; God gave ALL prophets unique attributes and duties.

You are correct in our difference, a big one. I do not believe Jesus (pbuh) died on the cross. I do not believe he cried out to God, "Father, Father why have you foresaken me?" Even as a Christian this statement bothered me because if He were God, why would he cry out to himself? I do not believe Jesus spoke John 3:16

papersonja
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papersonja 02/18/08 - 07:38 am
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I believe God loves us both.

I believe God loves us both. Maybe it is best we agree that we disagree and be thankful we both believe in The Almighty.

Alleluia and amen.

howcanweknow
2306
Points
howcanweknow 02/18/08 - 10:07 am
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Sonja, well, you have chosen

Sonja, well, you have chosen a path that is very common today: you take only what you want out of the Bible, and reject the rest. Once you start down that path, you can reject or support any and all philosophies. It strips the Bible of it's power and impact. This is what Islam has done, so it's easy to see why people believe it. Remember this, however, just because you choose not to believe something, that does not negate truth. As I said above, SECULAR (ie.., non-Christian) history verifies that Jesus Christ, in fact, did die on a cross. You really can't deny the truth of that historical fact. Because the Koran contradicts recorded history, you can choose not to believe the truth, and that is your right. But again, that does not change the facts that the Bible agrees with history, whereas the Koran contradicts the facts. You say that Jesus preached love. Absolutely true. He said love your enemies. Islam, on the other hand, teaches death to those who reject it (right there in the Koran). So once again, it seems there is quite a contradiction here between Jesus' teachings and the Koran. Is Jesus wrong here and the Koran right?

howcanweknow
2306
Points
howcanweknow 02/18/08 - 10:16 am
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I totally agree with you that

I totally agree with you that man tends to mess up the pure truth of God's word. I do not necessarily buy into any creed or man-made philosophy based on the Bible. I look only to the pure truth of God's word, and not what someone tells me it says -- especially non-Christians like Marcus Borg, who openly admits he is a pantheist and therefore an infidel to Islam. So, why in the world are you even listening to anything he says (unless, of course, in your determined denial of the truth, you are willing to believe anything that seems to diminish the message of Christianity). Let me ask you this: If, as you say, God loves us both, then why will Allah cast me (a person of "the book") into hell and you into Muslim heaven? How could a loving Allah do that to someone he loves? I'd really like to hear the Muslim idea of this concept of salvation vs. hell and how Allah deals with this.....

papersonja
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papersonja 02/18/08 - 10:54 am
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I have no idea what Allah

I have no idea what Allah will do you with you. It is not for me to say. He and He alone is the judge. I believe Allah is merciful and all knowing. I am of the belief that we will all be judged accordingly as individuals. I find great hope in that. No sins of our fathers. I left Christianity because I was on the cafeteria plan of picking and chosing from its many offerings. ie. Was the bread and wine really the body and blood or only symbolic? It depended which man-made Christian denomination one chose to follow. I chose to follow what I believe to be an unadulterated way of life, not a man-made religion. I believe ALL of islam which is a way of life, not a mere religion. What is your source for what you call pure truth of God's word? If it is the ORIGINAL Dead Sea Scrolls of Ibrahim (pbuh), Torah of Moses (pbuh), Psalms of David (pbuh), the Bible of Jesus (pbuh) then we have no disagreement. I believe in all those revelations in their authentic forms. The Quran was sent as the complete book of guidance without any change, with nothing added or taken away as the final book for mankind. Muhammad (pbuh) is the seal of the Prophets. Alleluia and amen.

papersonja
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papersonja 02/18/08 - 12:28 pm
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Dear howcanweknow, Please do

Dear howcanweknow, Please do not give Borg so much credit for my reversion to Islam. While his writing of the pre-Easter and post-Easter Jesus (pbuh) was thoughtful, it was not alone compelling enough to make me make such a life change. He was one point of interest on the road of my spiritual journey. Samantha McKevie briefly interviewed me over the telephone to write her article. It was by no means a comprehensive interview. I think we should agree that secular and non-secular scholars are NOT in agreement as to whether Jesus (pbuh) was cruxified as you assert. That can be easily verified. Also I have no contradictions in Jesus' (pbuh) true teachings and the Quran as you accuse. I believe the Quran was sent as a final word to correct previous genuine revelations that were altered by men over time. As for infidels of the Book (Torah and Bible) please keep in mind my husband married a Christian woman (me) in a Christian church. His friends and family accepted me, loved me. I wish the same could have been said of all my Christian friends toward him. I think we must keep in mind the context and times in which things were written. Alleluia

howcanweknow
2306
Points
howcanweknow 02/18/08 - 02:54 pm
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Sonja, if you deny the Bible

Sonja, if you deny the Bible as truth (at least any part you don't agree with), then there's not much common ground for our discussion. I can give you tons of solid evidence that supports the truth and validity of the Bible, and also many references and websites that discuss the inconsistencies within the Koran and nature of Muhammed as a false prophet. You're probably aware of these sources as well, and would disagree. So, maybe we just do have to agree to disagree? I understand that you were seeking a very simple faith from a very simple God. I suppose Islam meets your expectations. In contrast, I appreciate the fact that God is complicated. I don't want to understand Him or His ways. They are too far above me for that, and I appreciate that my puny brain doesn't have to fully comprehend the nature of God before I can accept Him as truth. Part of the joy I experience as a Christian is knowing that I cannot please my God by doing good works; I please Him by accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and God, and allowing His grace to save me (not by me earning my way into his good graces by rituals or rules).

howcanweknow
2306
Points
howcanweknow 02/18/08 - 03:02 pm
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I too find squabbles over

I too find squabbles over religious ways to be tiresome. Whether or not transubstantiation occurs or not is nothing to lose sleep over, nor is it anything to reject Christianity over either. Christianity is about God coming to earth as a man, and therefore, as the one and only perfect revelation of God to man. That is Jesus Christ. When the Perfect One has come, why would it then be necessary to send another man in his place later on? That doesn't make sense, and the Bible is very clear that the line of God's prophets ended with God Himself coming to earth (Jesus). The story of Islam is the same as the story of Mormonism -- some angel supposedly bringing a "new and improved" revelation from God to man. Next year, we'll probably have another supposed angelic visit with a greater revelation. It seems to be satan's favorite way to steer people from the truth. So, I have to reject the entire concept that Muhammed was a true prophet, but was instead simply another deceiver that took people away from the real truth of God. Again, I wish you well in your spiritual journey, and pray that you will one day find the real truth you are longing for.

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