HANANIA: Muslim-Catholic rivalry mixes Apples and Oranges, For Immediate Release, April 1, 2008

Muslim-Catholic rivalry mixes Apples and Oranges
By Ray Hanania —
When it comes to Muslims and Catholics, you might wonder which is the Apple and which is the Orange. No matter how you address the issue of the number of Catholics versus the number of Muslims in the world, someone will always complain. But the reality is the debate is really a hot-potato, a distraction from the reality and intended to feed to growing animosity between Islam and the West.

This week, Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged that there are “more Muslims” in the world than there are Catholics. According to the Vatican’s Yearbook of Statistics, 19.2 percent of the world’s population are Muslims while only 17.4 percent are Catholics.

Are you kidding me? I mean, first of all, what? Are the rest of us just chopped liver?

The comparison is ridiculous and compares two things that don’t match. Muslims come in several religious sects, the majority are Sunnis (mostly Arabs) and Shi’ites (mostly non-Arabs and Persians). There are 34,000 Christians groups, of which the Catholics are, maybe, the largest.

Catholics are only a part of the Christian World.

So you Christians screaming about the “Islamic threat” should take a pill and calm down.

Let’s forget for a moment that it is impossible to get an accurate count of the world’s population, let alone their religious preferences.

But, we can estimate and the numbers are not even close.

There are some 1.4 billion Muslims in the World but there are more than 2.3 billion Christians. Muslims represent about 22 percent of the world’s population, which Christians represent 33 percent. That’s not even close, or more importantly, worth worrying about.

True, data suggests Islam is growing about 2.9 percent per year, faster than the total world population, which is increasing at the rate of about 2.3 percent annually.

I am not a mathematician, but even I know at that rate, it would take several millennium for Muslims to overcome the rest of the world’s religions, so why are we worrying about it?

Why are we worrying about all this? Politics. Specifically the politics of confrontation.

First, there is the internal problem in the Christian Church. Catholics think they are better than the rest of the Christian World, so they make these ridiculous comparisons.

The Pope and the Catholic Church don’t recognize the rest of the Christians as being “Christian,” which is typically unChristian-like.

Hey Pope. Catholics don’t control the Christian Church, but thanks for inciting another conflict with the very emotional Muslim World, which is the second reason why the statistics are even kept. Tensions continue to exist between Muslims and Christians, even though both originate from the same theology.

A few weeks back, Pope Benedict spoke out against the murder of a Christian leader in Iraq by Muslim extremists, and that angered many Muslims. Osama Bin Laden, the terrorist mastermind of Sept. 11, 2001, put a Fatwa on the Pope and urged his death. Most Muslims didn’t run out and try to kill the pope, although that has been tried by Muslims in the past.

Muslims were even less moved to speak out against the murder of the Christian priest, and that angered a lot of Christians.

But the Pope and many Christians believe Muslims tend to lose their tempers far faster and easier than Christians. That’s not really true, but that doesn’t matter either.

Muslims are often moved to worldwide protests, mostly on insignificant issues like cartoons.

Meanwhile, their Muslim brothers and sisters continue to be abused by Israel’s brutal occupation and most Muslims don’t seem to care – well, at least, they don’t care enough to go out and protest on the streets as much as they do about silly cartoons.

Christians get emotional, too, and they kill Muslims all the time, like in Iraq.

And Catholics were quick to rise to the anger when the news of Muslims overcoming Catholics was published, demanding that more sanctions be taken in “Christian” countries to restrain Muslims and confront Muslim hypocrisies regarding conversions.

There is enough hypocrisy to go around, I guess. Muslims are constantly urging Christians in the West to convert to Islam and they do. But if a Christian suggests that a Muslim convert to Christianity, well, that Christian could end up being jailed or worse.

The worse is saved for Muslims who convert from Islam to Christianity, and they often have to fight to avoid a death sentence.

Yet, if we want to compare Muslims to Catholics, one small segment of the world’s population, maybe we can expand the issue of hypocrisies more.

According to the Pope, the cause of the imbalance is the higher birthrate among Muslims than among Catholics.

I’m not sure what Catholics can do. They already are pressured not to take the “pill.”

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Most other Christians look down their noses at Catholics, huffing that the reason they have more children reflects their social standing, along with the Pope’s strategy to take over the world by prohibiting birth control.

Some Catholics believe that if they just have more kids, they will dominate the world. But that’s not just Catholic reasoning. All religions who think they are under siege or wish to dominate the world, tell their flock to have as many children as possible to increase their numbers.

In the end, there are far more important issues we should be discussing, but we won’t. Because some of us in the world are too busy arguing selfishly that Apples might be more important than Oranges.

Myself, I like them both.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, author and Chicago radio talk show host. He can be reached at http://www.hanania.com. Arab American Writers Group. http://www.ArabWritersGroup.com.)

Categories: Middle East Topics

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