Let’s take the truth of the Bible out of the debate for a brief moment. Let’s also take out the political considerations, the need (in his own opinion) to maintain a level of all-inclusive moderation when dealing with the differences between peoples of different race and religion. Finally, let’s remove the context (something that we don’t like to do but that is necessary in this situation) and address the statement at hand. We’ll add all of the other ingredients back in later.
For now, let’s look at Senator John McCain’s statement in its purest form. In an interview on Fox News, he was shown a clip of a celebration by rebels after a Syrian fighter jet is shot out of the sky. The rebel said “allahu akbar” two times, to which which McCain responded, “Would you have a problem with an American and Christian saying, ‘thank God, thank God’? That’s what they’re saying. Come on. Of course they’re Muslims but they’re moderates. I guaranty you they are moderates. I know them and I have been with them. For someone saying ‘allahu akbar’ is about as offensive as someone saying ‘thank God’.”
No, Senator McCain. It isn’t. The best translations in English put it as meaning “God is greater” or “God is [the] greatest”. It isn’t a sigh of relief as the term “thank God” often is. It is a rallying cry. It is statement that often follows or precedes bloodshed and it is used by extremists and terrorists in celebration or as a precedent for a successful attack. Christians do not normally thank God before or after they kill someone.
Now, let’s put the three ingredients we took out back into the mix. From the Bible’s perspective, declaring praise to any other God is against the commandments of our Lord. Political moderation, whether based upon a need for votes or for a heart-felt ideology, does not apply in this situation. Lastly, the push for a strike against Syria is something that does not require support for the rebels. This is intended to be punitive. If the goal is to help the rebels, it must be made clear what will happen if the rebels are able to seize power. We do not need another Egypt on our hands in an area of the world that is already set in turmoil.
Here’s the video of the segment of the interview in question.