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Muslim athlete wearing hijab in Olympic event

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Saudi Arabia Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani gestures as she walks with the contingent in the atheletes parade during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium July 27, 2012 (Credit: Reuters / Suzanne Plunkett)

History will be made at the London Olympics later today when judo competitor Wojdan Shaherkani fights Puerto Rico’s Melissa Mojica.  The 16-year-old Saudi is making headlines because of what she will wear to compete.  Saudi clerics require women to wear the Islamic hijab in public.  This loose-fitting garment would give Shaherkani a competitive advantage, however, since opponents would not be able to use her clothing for leverage (a common practice in judo).  But anything that makes her clothing more form-fitting would violate Muslim standards.  As a compromise, authorities decided she would be allowed to compete wearing a headscarf, a decision other judo competitors supported.

Her story caught my eye because of a fascinating article I read yesterday, “Chewing Over Christianity and Democracy at Chick-fil-A.”  David Davenport wrote the op/ed for Forbes, responding to the massive support the restaurant received on Wednesday.  He believes that “at a deeper level, the Chick-fil-A controversy underscores the growing dilemma over Christianity and democracy in America.”

Why?  Because conservative Christianity is not democratic—its principles are not put to a popular vote and do not change over time.  Evangelical Christians base their beliefs on the Bible, not public opinion.  Such a commitment to absolute truth runs counter to the relativism of our secular culture.  Davenport sees this fact as the answer to a question one of his children asked while attending a secular public school: “Dad, why is it ok in my school to be anything but a Christian?”

It’s a sign of the times when a 16-year-old Muslim athlete is more committed to her religious values than the “Christian” country hosting her competition.  The Christian movement was founded by men and women who paid the ultimate price for their beliefs.  After being flogged for their faith, “the apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” (Acts 5:41).  Then, “day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ” (v. 42).

If we won’t join them in courageous commitment to our Lord, what will happen to our nation?  Davenport notes: “America has always understood itself to need Christian values in order to make its democratic republic work.”  He then cites George Washington’s observation in his farewell address that “of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”  Now America is abandoning the biblical morality essential to democracy, imperiling our future.

Have you prayed for spiritual awakening yet this morning?  What price will you pay for your faith today?