Eating the Meat of Idols? Say What?

Jan 29 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

More fear and panic brought to you by the Religious Right. And you thought you understood what made food healthy or unhealthy! But the meat of idols? Are you kidding me? This is one that would sound familiar to ancient peoples, only they’re all dead. Not to worry! The backwards looking Christian fundamentalist community won’t let any cause for fear mongering go to waste, particularly when it comes to Islam.

You may remember this bit of right-wing bigotry, the protest mounted by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer against Campbell’s for making Halal soups in Canada. Like Kosher foods for Jews made in accordance with Jewish dietary laws, Halal foods are made in accordance with Islamic dietary laws. Geller claimed that Campbell’s was “doing the bidding” of the Muslim Brotherhood. After all, Muslims have no right to follow their dietary restrictions, right? I mean, we’ve already been told Islam is not really a religion.

Many of you will also be familiar with that insidious Internet parasite called WorldNetDaily, which is making a fuss about the food we eat in restaurants. It’s not safe you see. As perennial bigot Bryan Fischer warns, it might be food of “the demon-god-Allah.” So here we have Bryan Fischer allied with Mark Blitz of El Shaddai Ministries, is campaigning against all Halal foods.

According to World Net Daily:

When you bite into a delicious pizza, succulent sandwich or luscious lamb chops, are you possibly eating food that has been sacrificed to idols?

An outspoken American pastor says yes, and he’s sounding the alarm for Christians to be aware of the Islamic influence he calls “backdoor Shariah” now nibbling its way across the fruited plain.

At issue, says Mark Biltz of El Shaddai Ministries in Bonney Lake, Wash., is eating food that’s “halal,” in other words “lawful” or “permitted” for the Muslim diet.

Muslims join many Jews and some Christians in avoiding the consumption of certain animals such as pigs and birds of prey, but those of the Islamic faith also have their meat blessed in the name of their god, Allah.

“From the Christian standpoint, Allah would be an idol,” Biltz told WND.

And of course, WND as always is willing to make a buck off the deal.

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There is literally nothing WND reports on that they don’t also profit from.

For the ancient Christians community it wasn’t about making a shekel, or a denarii, or whatever, it was a legitimate concern for them because you see in the ancient days, most urban folks didn’t get meat unless it was from sacrifices. A council held in Jerusalem, Acts tells us, came to the following decision (Acts 15:29):

You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.

Well they didn’t listen much to that, did they?

If you want more, you can consult Paul of Tarsus on the subject.  We find in 1 Corinthians 8:4–13:

Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

But it turns out there was more to it: the problem for Paul is that in eating this meat people might be tempted to lapse and return to temples and this was a legitimate worry, for it happened all the time: “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, won’t he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols?”

So set an example: “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.”

Just a little later, in 1 Corinthians 10:25–32 Paul reiteratesEat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”

Well there you go, Pastor Blitz! But hold on! What’s this? “But if anyone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ sake— the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience?” The problem here is not the meat itself, which is amoral but that to a person who has a weak conscience – a former pagan – this meat from pagan temples was spiritually defiled. Paul says it would be preferable to avoid meat rather than cause a believer to sin against his conscience.

Are we to take it then that this pagan meat is only a danger to those with weak consciences? It would seem so. What does that say about Blitz and Fischer and those Christians they are worried about with regards to this Halal meat? If they eat it they might lapse? Eat the meat and you turn into a Muslim or maybe a pagan?

And what about all that stuff Jesus said about the Jewish dietary restrictions being null and void?

Matthew 15:11 gets ignored here though it is often used to make that argument;

What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.'”

Never mind that Jesus said he came to uphold the law (Matthew 5:17-20). But how about this?

Peter’s vision. You remember when Peter was sweating over having to meet a Gentile, Cornelius. No problem, God says to Peter in a vision.  The Jewish dietary prohibitions are overcome with the simple expedient of God telling Peter it was okay to eat anything he wanted (Acts 10:1-11:18), or so we’ve been told. So suddenly shellfish aren’t evil anymore, for example and a stoning is dodged.

But where pagan food was concerned, and now Islamic, the words of God mean suddenly nothing. Of course ,as WND tells us,

“Biltz stresses he’s not against halal food, halal stores or Muslims, but says “Christians may want to know that they’re eating halal food. It’s not so much a religious thing, but an awareness thing.”

No, he’s a swell guy: he just thinks their god is a dumb idol.

Look, it’s either one thing or another. Either it doesn’t matter what you eat or it does. You can’t pick and choose which laws are still laws; Jesus didn’t. They are interpreted and applied according to need, ignored when inconvenient. There is always room for more fear. If it’s not obvious, just dig a little. You can find something.

Speaking as a pagan, I can assure you it’s not anything I ate. It’s thinking like this.

My only question coming out of all this is, “Do you eat shellfish, Bryan Fischer?”

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