Here's my secret: I am an absolute sucker for televangelism...I can't watch enough of it. Imagine my joy when I found out that Pat Robertson and the 700 club would be addressing the topic of "Islam in Paris" this morning. You can read about this broadcast Here.
As I listened with as open of a mind as I could, Rev. Robertson raised several interesting questions, one of which - due to my personal experience as a Christian studying Islam in Paris - I felt compelled to answer to the best of my ability. I located the "Send Feedback" to the 700 Club portion of his website and submitted the following letter. I'm not sure how many responses they have to sift through, so, after e-mailing the 700 club, I decided to share with you - my loyal readers - my response to Rev. Robertson's queries. [Apologies for those who come here for the funny]
Here is the letter:
My name is Thomas Carrico and I am a graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. Having spent the past year earning my MA in Middle East and Islamic Studies at the American University of Paris in Paris, France, I was excited to see that you would be addressing the theme of “Islam in Paris” on today’s episode of “The 700 Club.” After viewing the YouTube video of Muslims praying in the streets, seeming to disrupt both pedestrian and automotive traffic, you and your co-host raised the valid question of what would happen if this were a gathering of Christians in Paris. While you hypothesized that such a gathering would be unwelcome, discouraged, or banned, my time in Paris has led me to believe otherwise.
On June 5th of this year, I was at my computer doing research with the windows open when my wife and I heard loud shouting and music coming from the nearby Place D’italie. After some googling, my wife realized that this was a demonstration called “La Marche Pour Jesus” (The March for Jesus). We – like you – did not think such a demonstration would be welcome, encouraged, or allowed in this city whose leaders continually emphasized its secular nature. We decided to see for ourselves what was going on and made our way towards the place. Standing on Rue Tolbiac, we could not believe what we were seeing.
We stood in awe as we watched dozens of trucks – all carrying praise bands singing in different languages – follow their police escort by. We watched as tens of thousands of Christians danced and sang for hours as they praised Christ in the streets of Paris as the flags of many different countries flew overhead. It was the largest, most multicultural gathering of Christians I have ever been a part of, including all experiences in my undergraduate camps and conferences as well as my three years of seminary. The march takes its theme: “Stand up and walk” from Jesus’ miracle in John 5 and the event– regardless of the particular theologies of the myriad churches represented – is a miracle in and of itself. In keeping with the theme of YouTube videos, I found this video of the march (there are many, many others) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NW9poMj4jo&feature=related and you will be able to learn more about this annual celebration of the Risen Christ at the organizations website (http://www.mpjf.org/z_4647/index.asp?page=1 ).
I have had several friends and professors educated at Regent University and have profound respect for your various ministries and your work in the world for the kingdom of God. As one of the most prominent Christian voices in our society today, I am positive that you will appreciate and make use of this account of religion in Paris as you consider the various nuances within a society and its people attempting to grapple with the complex question of national identity both at home and abroad.
Thank you very much for your time,
Thomas J Carrico, Jr. M.Div, MA.