MURRIETA: Mosque project an opportunity for outreach?

Hundreds attend lecture hosted by Calvary Chapel Bible College

Editorial Comment:  Joseph Holden is incredibly naive and apparently hasn’t been paying much attention to what Muslims all over the word have been doing to Christians.  He would be well served to understand that this is a cult not a religion.  Islam has the goal of conquering, submitting or death. Perhaps Mr. Holden is unaware that today, 500 Christians were hacked to death for being Christian.  Oh that Muslims have resumed building a mosque over a Christian cemetery It’s time for a wake up call to those that were in attendance. J.C.

By AARON CLAVERIE – aclaverie@californian.com

A local Islamic Center’s plans for a mosque in Temecula’s Nicolas Valley should be viewed as a “golden opportunity” for area Christians to share their faith and challenge the leaders of the center to open up Islamic countries to Christian missionaries.

North County Times – Californian

 Audience members listen to a lecture on Islam on Thursday at the Calvary Chapel Bible College in Murrieta. (Photo by Bill Wechter – Staff Photographer)

That was the message shared with hundreds of Southwest County residents who attended a lecture Thursday night that was hosted by the Calvary Chapel Bible College in Murrieta.

“This is a golden opportunity when Muslims come to your front door,” said Joseph Holden, president of Veritas Evangelical Seminary, a Murrieta-based nonprofit corporation founded in 2008.

The lecture —- a joint presentation of the seminary and the college —- was scheduled, organizers said, to answer the questions that have been raised in recent weeks by area Christians and non-Christians curious about the center’s plans and the proper response.

The audience for the lecture, staged in the college’s auditorium, was a multigenerational mix of seniors, families and college students.

The Islamic Center of Temecula Valley, a group of about 150 Muslim Southwest County families, is working to build a mosque near the Baptist church on the corner of Nicolas Road and Calle Medusa in Temecula, a rural corner of the city near the Murrieta border.

The plans are being actively opposed by a group of area residents concerned about the spread of Islam and there are some Nicolas Valley residents worried about the traffic the project might cause.

Some of those residents —- including some who attended a protest rally at the center’s offices on Rio Nedo —- attended the lecture, and they posed questions to the speakers after Holden’s speech. Holden was joined on the stage by Robert Heckler, a teacher who covers world religions in his classes, and Steve Keeney, a student and volunteer at the seminary who has concentrated his studies in the area of philosophy of religion and world religions.

The bulk of Holden’s 45-minute speech focused on a historical and liturgical summary of Islam. There was also a section that covered U.S. law and the rights that both Muslims and Christians enjoy.

He prefaced his comments by saying, “This is a Christian perspective; not ‘the’ Christian perspective.”

Holden, who said he disagreed with the doctrine of Islam, closed by urging listeners to challenge Islamic leaders to open up their country to Christian missionaries and sharing their faith and belief in American ideals, including freedom of religion.

“Let’s show them who Americans are,” he said.

During the question-and-answer portion, two authors critical of Islam offered a sort of critique of the presentation, saying there is a fundamental difference between the god of Islam, Allah, and the Christian God.

“The Christian God sacrificed himself for the benefit of mankind. Allah wants you to sacrifice yourself for him,” said Mano Bakh, a Wildomar man who said he left behind Islam when he fled Iran in the late 1970s.

James Horn, a former counterterrorism strategist, told Holden, “You are talking in platitudes. You have no world experience.”

Heckler said he doesn’t agree with the statements made by former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama calling Islam a “religion of peace.”

“That is putting your head in the sand,” he said

But he added that as individual Christians, it was imperative to reach out to Muslims.

A woman toward the front of the auditorium said she didn’t think that she would be taken seriously if she tried to talk with a Muslim because, she said, Muslims believe women don’t have rights.

Keeney said it was important to make a connection, especially with a Muslim woman, because “A lot of them are searching, they’re hurting.”

The imam of the Islamic Center, Mahmoud Harmoush, said earlier this week that he was not invited to Thursday’s event.

Call staff writer Aaron Claverie at 951-676-4315, ext. 2624.

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