Has your Thanksgiving turkey been sacrificed to idols?
Surprise! America's favorite meal may be secretly dedicated to Allah
"Stay away from food that has been offered to idols (which makes it unclean), any kind of sexual sin, eating animals that have been strangled, and blood." (Acts 15:20, New Century Version)
"As for the Gentile Christians, all we ask of them is what we already told them in a letter: They should not eat food offered to idols, nor consume blood, nor eat meat from strangled animals, and they should stay away from all sexual immorality" (Acts 21:25 New Living Translation).
"At a restaurant, you're not going to know [if the food is halal] unless you ask," Blitz said. "I think we need to be aware of these things because they don't want Christians to know because they just want to sell it and get it out there. ... A lot of people don't want you to know it's going all over the world. Christians are upset as they're finding out about this because Christians are saying, 'How come you didn't tell me?'"
Biltz quotes directly from a Muslim-run site titled, "The Islamic Guidelines to Slaughtering Animals," to let Christians know some of the procedures involved in making sure meat is halal. According to author Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam:
Some evidences regarding the necessity of pronouncing the name of Allah when slaughtering:
a) Allah Most High says: "Eat not of (meats) over which Allah's name has not been pronounced. That would be impiety." (al-An' am, V. 121)
The above text is clear in determining the necessity of taking the name of Allah when slaughtering, and the unlawfulness of the animal when it is left out, as the major Qur'anic commentators explain.
b) Allah Almighty says: "They ask you what is lawful for them (as food). Say: Lawful unto you are (all) things good and pure and what you have taught your trained hunting animals (to catch) in the manner directed to you by Allah. Eat what they catch for you and pronounce the name of Allah over it." (al-Ma'idah, V.4)
Biltz is also publicizing a Muslim website called Zabihah.com which bills itself as the world's largest guide to halal restaurants and products. Consumers wondering where they can purchase halal food simply need to click on their geographic location.
The Chicago-based Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, or IFANCA, agrees everyone should be properly informed about food classification, but its spokeswoman said she's taken aback when she hears some of the rhetoric about Muslims.
"Of course it bothers me personally that my own religion is not portrayed very positively in the media," said Maria Omar, IFANCA's director of media relations.
"Naturally, [Muslims] don't believe they're worshipping idols. It is unfortunate that some organizations malign [halal]. I want to change this perspective. It's just a food market need for certain people, and if Americans can benefit by providing this need, all the better."
Omar says part of the ignorance problem regarding the status of meat has to do with the global marketplace and the countries of origin for food.
"A lot of times, when you are importing food from large meat-producing regions such as New Zealand or Denmark, these meats are already slaughtered in the Islamic guidelines," she said. "A lot of their trade is with the Middle East, and they don't know where everything is going. All meat they export is halal standard. If it happens to go to the U.S. or England, nobody knows, since it's not always advertised or labeled."
Omar added: "Perhaps what should be talked about more here is less about halal, and more about food-industry standards for labeling food properly. Certainly, if someone does not want to have halal, they should be clearly informed that the food product is halal. All consumers deserve the right to be informed of what they are eating."
If someone is shopping in a supermarket, there are numerous symbols that help consumers know if a product is indeed certified as halal-compliant, some of which can be seen here:
Numerous logos inform consumers if a product is halal-certified.
Connecticut-based Subway, which has more than 23,000 sandwich shops in the U.S. and nearly 34,000 worldwide, is proud to be offering halal food in communities where there's a demand for it.
Sandwich giant Subway is heavily promoting its halal-certified meats in the United Kingdom, where there has been greater demand compared to the United States.
Subway spokesman Les Winograd told WND: "The way we look at it from a business point of view is here's a group of individuals who traditionally cannot eat out. They cannot eat your average name-brand fast food. When they travel, they have to bring their own food. They're consumers, they're buying things. We want to be able to tell them, 'There's a safe place for you to eat.' That's definitely worth something in their eyes. Here's a brand that cares about me, too. It's kind of an untapped market, so building brand equity is a good thing."
Winograd says he can think of only two franchises in America, both in New Jersey, that have offered halal food, and says, "I really haven't seen any complaints here in this country."
He explained there's a much greater demand in the U.K., where there are more than 100 halal locations out of some 1,000 total franchises.
Winograd says those outlets go out of their way to make sure customers know halal food is being served there.
"Everything is identified," he said. "Each store has a seal in the window, so you know when you're walking in that everything is halal."
Last year, after categorically denying it used any halal meat, fast-food giant McDonald's admitted selling halal chicken in the U.K. without telling its customers. The poultry was used in popular menu items such as Chicken McNuggets and the McChicken Sandwich in its 1,200 British outlets.
McDonald's told the London Daily Mail it was accidental, saying, "some halal chicken has entered our supply chain without our knowledge, and we apologize to our customers for this."
According to the Associated Press, the worldwide market for Islamically permitted goods has grown to more than half a billion dollars annually, and it notes that in the U.S., McDonald's and Walmart have now begun selling halal products. Last summer, Whole Foods began selling its first nationally distributed halal food item, frozen Indian entrees called Saffron Road.
Interestingly, the animals acceptable for Muslims to eat are in accordance with numerous Scriptures from the Christian Bible, which also classifies creatures such as pigs, shellfish, those with paws and all reptiles as "unclean," with God using terms such as "abomination" in Leviticus 11 and "abominable thing" in Deuteronomy 14 to describe them.
Today, Christians are divided on whether or not the food instructions of the Old Testament are still meant to be observed, with some believers abstaining, and others having no problem eating pork products, lobster, shrimp and alligator.
While there are biblical warnings telling people to avoid eating food sacrificed to idols, the apostle Paul also addressed the subject this way:
Should we eat meat that has been sacrificed to idols? Well, we all know that an idol is not really a god and that there is only one God and no other. According to some people, there are many so-called gods and many lords, both in heaven and on earth. But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we exist for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life.
However, not all Christians realize this. Some are accustomed to thinking of idols as being real, so when they eat food that has been offered to idols, they think of it as the worship of real gods, and their weak consciences are violated. It's true that we can't win God's approval by what we eat. We don't miss out on anything if we don't eat it, and we don't gain anything if we do. But you must be careful with this freedom of yours. Do not cause a brother or sister with a weaker conscience to stumble. (1 Corinthians 8:4-9, NLT)
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."
Geller, however, is calling for Butterball to be held accountable for the "outrage" of serving unlabeled halal meat and pledges to fight for legislation requiring labeling.
Geller is encouraging concerned people to join a "Boycott Butterball Turkey" Facebook page and contact Stephanie Styons at Butterball's public relations firm to register complaints.