CAPE GIRARDEAU — The prophets of the Hebrew scriptures are known for their warnings of doom and gloom, but even Jeremiah — arguably the gloomiest Old Testament sage — would have tipped his hat to the Rev. David Clippard at the Missouri Baptist Convention’s annual meeting here this week.
In his opening address Monday night at Southeast Missouri State’s Show Me Center, Clippard sounded off about a number of issues facing the state’s 600,000 members, from a dwindling number of young churchgoers to the evils of embryonic stem cell research to falling contributions for international mission trips.
Clippard is the executive director of the state Convention, a fellowship of 2,000 congregations who cooperate with the 16-million member Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States. Baptist churches that are members of the Southern Baptist Convention operate autonomously, but cooperate on many issues. Sen. Jim Talent, R.-Mo., and Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, are scheduled to address the meeting today.
Clippard reserved his strongest words for what he said he considered paramount for all Americans: the threat of Islam. “Today, Islam has a strategic plan to defeat and occupy America,” he told the 1,200-strong crowd of delegates (called “messengers”), pastors and lay people, many of whom cheered his words.
Clippard said the Saudi Arabian government and royal family had funded teaching positions and 138 Muslim student centers on university campuses across the United States, three in the University of Missouri system in Columbia, Rolla and St. Louis. “What they are after is your sons and daughters,” Clippard said. “They are coming to this country in the guise of students, and the Saudi government is paying their expenses.”
Bob Sample, a spokesman for the University of Missouri at St. Louis said that the school did have a Muslim Student Association but that it was one of 150 student associations on campus and one of six considered “faith-based.” He said neither the university nor any of its student associations were receiving subsidies from the Saudi government.
Andrew Careaga, a spokesman for the University of Missouri at Rolla, said his school also had a Muslim Student Association, one of 14 religious student associations. He said he was not aware of any complaints from other students that Muslim students had been recruiting them.
Clippard said that Muslims were hoping to take over the United States government one city at a time, and that they were starting with Detroit, where there is already a large Muslim population.
“They are trying to establish a Muslim state inside America, and they are going to take the city of Detroit back to the 15th century and practice Sharia (or Islamic) law there.”
In an interview Tuesday, Clippard said he believed the Islamic “strategy for taking over America” was to wait until there was a Muslim majority here and then “eradicate those who don’t conform to their religion.”
On Monday night, he told the crowd that “your freedom is on the floor with their foot on it, with their sword raised, and if you don’t convert, your head comes off.”
Usama K. Dakdok, an Egyptian Christian and founder of Straight Way Ministry who calls himself a “Muslim evangelism specialist,” said Tuesday that “every word (Clippard) said is true. It’s time for us to wake up. They are not here to be in our welfare system, they are here to take over our country.”
The Rev. Gerald R. Davidson, pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church in Arnold, classified the discussion of Islam as “external things for us to struggle with,” but added, “Islam is more aggressive than we are” when it comes to evangelism.
Ibrahim Hooper, a national spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he was not surprised about the content of Clippard’s message, but he said he was worried about its effects.
“This kind of hate-filled, ignorant rhetoric shouldn’t be coming from religious leaders in our country who should instead be repudiating this kind of bigotry,” he said. “He may be comfortable saying these things behind closed doors, but the real impact is on everyday Muslims who have to live with the consequences of this kind of talk.”
Clippard said Tuesday that his message was really about love.
“I don’t hate Islamic people,” he said. “We need to love these folks, go after them and love them, one at a time. We need to crucify them with Christ.”