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My Take: How evangelicals could grow to love Muslims
The Islamic Center of America, a mosque in Dearborn, Michigan.
August 18th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: How evangelicals could grow to love Muslims

Editor's Note: Eboo Patel is founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core. His new book is called "Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice and the Promise of America."

By Eboo Patel, Special to CNN

Paul Ryan has set off joyous cheers in the land of conservatives largely because of his fiscal views but also because of his Catholic faith.

He is just the most recent member of his church – think House Speaker John Boehner, Republican runner-ups Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, and Supreme Court justices Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia – to be viewed as a flag-bearer for the conservative cause, a movement whose foot soldiers are largely evangelical Protestants.

The dynamic of evangelicals cheering for Catholics is one of the most stunning shifts in American political history. Just 50 years ago, evangelicals were ringing the alarm about the rising prominence of Catholics in American politics, not falling in line behind them.

“Our freedom, our religious freedom, is at stake if we elect a member of the Roman Catholic order as president of the United States,” Norman Vincent Peale told a conference of evangelical leaders in September 1960.

Materials handed out at the Peale conference claimed ‘Universal Roman Catholicism’ was both a religion and a political force whose doctrines were ultimately incompatible with the American ideals of freedom, equality and democracy.

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And the conference's keynote address alleged that Catholics practiced “mental reservation,” which allowed them to lie about their intentions in order to gain power. And when they succeeded, they would make second-class citizens of everyone else.

Replace “Roman Catholic” with “Muslim” and “Church hierarchy” with “caliphate” in those pronouncements and today we are witnessing a similar energy directed against a different faith community using largely the same categories.

In today’s parlance, Kennedy was part of a stealth jihad meant to replace the U.S. Constitution with sharia law and practicing taqqiyya to mask this dawa offensive.

As they believed about Catholicism then, many evangelicals now view the very nature of Islam as incompatible with American values. Evangelicals rate Muslims lower on a "‘favoribility" scale than any other religious group, according to "American Grace," a book by scholars Robert Putnam and David Campbell.

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Evangelical churches are favorite venues for Islamophobic speakers and prominent evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham regularly call Islam a threat to America.

It is easy to draw a straight line between the evangelical anti-Catholic prejudice of previous generations and the Islamophobia of today, essentially saying that “evangelicals have to hate someone.”

But that’s too cynical a take for me. The more interesting - and certainly more hopeful - storyline is the one about change.

Evangelical attitudes changed markedly towards Catholics in the past generation, and they are changing towards Muslims now.

Without doubt, the evangelical shift on Catholics can be partially explained by the two religion traditions finding common cause on political issues like abortion. But in "American Grace," Putnam and Campbell point to what they believe is a more important reason.

Over the course of the past fifty years, more evangelicals got to meet Catholics and the warmth in those personal relationships became generalized towards the larger community. If your Pal Al is Catholic and a good guy, then by extension Catholics as a group and Catholicism as a religion have some good qualities.

This is precisely the dynamic taking place between evangelicals and Muslims, a story for me best illustrated by a Dallas-based pastor named Bob Roberts. Bob grew up in the 1960s in East Texas and remembers the Pope regularly being referred to as “the Great Whore of Babylon” in his father’s Southern Baptist church.

He absorbed the anti-Catholic prejudice along with everyone else. But when he went on service trips to Southeast Asia as an adult, he discovered that the people doing the most intense, committed development work were inevitably Catholic. At first he admired them from afar. Then he got to know some up close, and they turned out to be not so bad.

After September 11, 2001, the anti-Muslim feeling was open and intense in Bob’s community. Truth be told, Bob felt it himself.

But he was self-aware enough to recognize the similarity between the irrational prejudice he absorbed about Catholics growing up and what he saw happening toward Muslims now.

So he did the same thing with Muslims that he’d done with Catholics: get to know them personally through common projects. Bob has traveled everywhere from Afghanistan to Gaza to do interfaith service projects with Muslims.

And now he is bringing fellow evangelicals along and involving the members of his Dallas mega-church in local interfaith projects. He’s speaking to young evangelical leaders about the importance of building relationships with Muslims as a Christian practice.

I know because in the midst of the opposition to the so-called Ground Zero mosque a couple years ago, a young pastor came to my office and asked me to guest preach about Islam at his evangelical church. He told me that Bob had sent him.

This is how communities change. Evangelicals make up 40% of America – when they change, America changes.

Maybe in 50 years, there will be no surprise when the loudest cheerleaders for Muslim presidential candidates and Supreme Court justices are evangelical Christians.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Eboo Patel.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Islam • Opinion

soundoff (2,441 Responses)
  1. Science

    Free speech helps educate the masses................POLITICIANS too !

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    No god(s) needed or required to graduate from public schools in the US

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    For what...................... ? Make sure to read what the pope said !

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    Make sure to read comments

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    The ORIGIN story is bullsh-it...............so is the bible............... nasty !

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    BACKFILL on E =mc2.....

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    “The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends,” Einstein wrote in German in a 1954 letter that will be auctioned on eBay later this month. "No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”

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    May 4, 2013 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |

    Cheech & Chong's History of 420

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    February 16, 2013 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |

    Peace

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    May 4, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
  2. tuvia

    ---->
    .
    ---–>

    B"H
    JERUSALEM: ISRAEL

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=947by3X6_RU&w=640&h=390]

    September 10, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  3. tuvia

    *****************

    B"H

    SHALOM, THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING.
    YOU SHOULD ALL HAVE A GREAT SHABBOS.
    HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND.

    SHALOM, YOM TOV.
    TUVIA

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=947by3X6_RU&w=640&h=390]

    September 7, 2012 at 10:00 am |
  4. tuvia

    ***
    B"H
    MEDIA RELEASE: JERUSALEM, ISRAEL

    The Promised Land given to our forefathers Abraham Isaac and Jacob and is given to us, their seed, as an everlasting Inheritance.
    the Promised Land given to our forefathers Abraham Isaac and Jacob

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    September 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  5. tuvia

    ****

    B"H
    RADIO: MEDIA RELEASE

    JERUSALEM, ISRAEL

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=947by3X6_RU&w=640&h=390]

    September 6, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
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  7. SnazzyGirl

    What the crap was that?

    August 27, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • BLACKHEADKOI

      A beacon on a site filled with medieval, cloistered, blinkered thoughts.

      August 27, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  8. martin

    Religion needs to die for the good of humanity.

    August 27, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  9. winstonsmith

    COULD grow to love Muslims?

    Uh, they SHOULD love Muslims. Period. It's in their book, to love everyone – that's the whole point of Jesus, to not let intolerance cloud your heart. If Evangelicals have a problem with Muslims, then they're not really Christians. They're Evangelical in NAME ONLY, and they will not be reaching the kingdom of God because their hearts know only anger.

    August 27, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  10. bLACKHEADKOI

    I can't trust anyone who's over 12 years old and still believes in fairy tales.

    August 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • martin

      same with me

      August 27, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  11. dugg

    Wow! That brought out the religious kooks.I can just see you all thumbing through your Gideon's and Qu'rans trying to find a reason the other guy has it all wrong and should be wiped out. It kind of reminds me of 2 10 year olds arguing about whether Batman could beat Spiderman. You have no idea how entertaining you are. If I were Satan I would call myself God and... you are exactly the kind of selfish, xenophobic, small minded individuals that I would create. Then I would sit back and enjoy the show.And yes I would be enjoying it right now.

    August 27, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Paul

      So true! Hilarious!

      August 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • David Nelson

      There is no place in the new tesament where Jesus says his followers should "wipe out" anybody. That is an uninformed bigoted cartoon view of Christianity. The Catholic Church of the Dark Ages may have acted in such a fashion. The bible says the Vatican will try to do it again and will do it with the help of duped Protestants.

      August 27, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  12. Christian !!!

    Norman Vincent Peale was right! Not then but now we see it as it creeps into our system of government.
    Catholic creep ... Now the Muslims wanna creep ! LOL :) :)
    I don't have a thing against a catholic or a Muslim ... but their systems of religions in our government is a serious threat to freedom... both are like serpents which cannot hear because of their religious beliefs... they always think they are right and to hell with what other people think...Today the religious Reich is playing into their hands .... speaking of serpents the Religious Reich is a brood of vipers too!!! :) :) ... as Jesus said in Mark 16:18 take up serpents.. :)

    August 27, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • DC

      Any religion is a threat to liberty. Religion has to stay out of government and government out of religion.

      August 27, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  13. BoomBada

    Written like a true person who never read the Qur'an ".O YOU who have attained to faith! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for your allies: they are but allies of one another and whoever of you allies himself with them becomes, verily, one of them; behold, God does not guide people who are unjust. (Quran 5:51)" or the Hadith. 1102. Abu Basra l-Ghifari reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "I will ride to the Jews tomorrow. Do not give them the greeting first. If they greet you, then say, 'and on you.'"

    1103. Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Do not give the People of the Book the greeting first. Force them to the narrowest part of the road." (Ibid.; bold and underline emphasis ours)

    These are from Al Bukhari. So here's the question...writing this whole article on how Evangelicals should befriend and love Muslims. Cool. But why does he not address even once how to bridge the gap with Muslims who are told over and over again in the Qur'an, Hadith that they should not like any unbeliever (those who are not Muslims) and that they should consider non believers as those who are "waging war against Allah." This author represents Idealism and Political Correctness gone way too far.

    How are you supposed to make friends with someone who has been told to make you go to the "narrowest part of the road" and to "pay the Jizya with willing submission until they feel subjugated / humiliated" (Jizya is a tax that non Muslims have to pay Muslims for the simple fact they are not Muslim.) Qur'an 9:29.

    He puts all the pressure on Evangelicals,yet requires nothing of Muslims. Looks like our boy Eboo has already accepted his Dhimmi status.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • MandM

      I haven't checked to see if the quotes are accurate but the essence is still the same. Yes there are quotes in the Quran and Hadith which say similar things. However these quotes were addressing specific events and people of the day (the year 600 whatever). Those are not declarations or orders on how to treat people of today. Muslims were being attacked and that's the context of those quotes.

      August 27, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • MandM

      And in reference to the jizya tax, it's my very general understanding that all people whether muslim or not were taxed, just like people in the US today. They saw a reason to differentiate the justification and purpose of each tax. The tax on muslims was justified in that they were part of the state. As non-muslims were not expected to join the military etc to protect the state, they were taxed so that they can do their part in supporting the military which would protect them from invaders as well.

      August 27, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • KD

      Alright, lets play this game where we pick and choose verses from holy books and then take them literally rather then educating ourselves and studying the verses. This verse that you are quoting was addressing a particular point in time.

      How about Deuteronomy 7:1-2 When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations . . . then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.

      August 27, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Catherine

      MandM, the zakat (charity) required of muslims is different from the jizya demanded of non-muslims. Dhimmis (non-muslims in muslim nations) are also treated as inferior under shariah.

      September 16, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  14. AvdBerg

    For a better understanding how Evangelicals and Muslims have been deceived and what spirit they serve (Luke 9:55), we invite you to read the following articles listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    Church and what it means

    World History and Developments in the Middle East

    Clash of Civilizationss

    Barack Obama – President of the United States of America

    Can Christianity or Any Other Religion Save You?

    All of the other pages and articles explain what mankind must do to be reunited with God and how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9.

    August 27, 2012 at 7:11 am |
    • WASP

      @avg: Revelation 12:9 "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."

      now exactly where does it say anything about president obama, the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA or anything else pertaining the BS. you just posted? please enlighten us oh great and average reader of the old book.

      August 27, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • AvdBerg

      WASP

      Obama is of the same spirit as Mitt Romney. That is the purpose of our website, to show the people of this world how and by whom this whole world has been deceived. Religion is only one means, the other stronghold is 'Politics". They both serve the spirit of this world. For this reason our message remains the same for Obama, Mitt Romney and yourself: Ye must repent and turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God (Acts 26:18).

      August 27, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      You make people out to be entirely victims of the one "by whom this whole world has been deceived." Do you mean the Devil? No Devil is required. People make up lies and people believe them – sometimes the same people.

      August 27, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • AvdBerg

      Tom, Tom, the Other One

      The devil is a reference to your natural spirit that all of mankind is born with (John 8:43,44). The opposite of the devil is 'The Holy Ghost'.

      August 27, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      So it's natural that I'm a liar, a deceiver of myself and others?

      August 27, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • AvdBerg

      Tom, Tom, the Other One

      That is correct! For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world, and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith (1 John 5:4).

      August 27, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • WASP

      @avg: lol repent for what? seriously. telling an atheist to repent is pointless seeing we don't believe in your BS in the first place. telling an atheist to repent is like telling a theist that if he makes thor angry he will smit him with his hammer.

      "we are both atheists, i just believe in one less god than you do."
      no "god" has even shown itself to be real, not one. when your god truly intervenes and saves anyone just a single person from death or some horrible accident then maybe we will give yours some credence until then BLAH.

      August 27, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • AvdBerg

      Tom, Tom, the Other One

      He that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man (1 Cor. 2:14).

      August 27, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • WASP

      @AVG:"1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

      2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. Mk. 4.24

      3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

      4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

      see i can resite scripture also, but it means NOTHING. you have to buy into this BS for it to hold any weight.

      by order of this council i hear by dubb thee "TROLL" lmfao
      5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

      August 27, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • blogger formerly known as Who invited me?

      Avdberg
      quoting a work of fiction written nearly two thousand years ago does not give you any credibility...quite the opposite.

      I can quote many things, but doesn'y necessarily add any truth to an arguement, qouting men simply adds anothers opinions.
      Do you have any original thought to say, or are you just going to keep quoting ignorant men from a fictional work?

      August 27, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • AvdBerg

      WASP

      Like the so-called Christians you quote scriptures but are unable to understand it.

      But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them for they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14).

      August 27, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  15. AvdBerg

    For a better understanding how Evangelicals and Mormons have been deceived and what spirit they serve (Luke 9:55), we invite you to read the following articles listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    Church and what it means

    Mormon Church – Cult and Spiritual Harlot

    Barack Obama – President of the United States of America

    Can Christianity or Any Other Religion Save You

    All of the other pages and articles explain what mankind must do to be reunited with God and how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9.

    August 27, 2012 at 6:41 am |
  16. dan

    I pray often for the Muslims. May the Lord keep them........far away from me. lol

    August 26, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  17. Jack

    Everyone is cordially invited to visit... thestarofkaduri.com

    August 26, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  18. Sarah

    Same kind of mindset at the core.
    Fanatics, literal interpretation of ancient scripts authored by wild-eyed herdsmen and even a probable schizophrenic.
    Rejection of scientific evidence and logical reasoning.

    Sometimes it feels depressing, people can be so stupid.

    August 26, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      Hindu Mithra ism, pagan savior ism labeled as Christianity is an off shoot of hinduism, denial of truth absolute by hinduism, corruption of truth absolute by hindu Pharisee's, criminal self centered and promoted with sword by hindu criminal king's and their hindu pagan Magi' fortune teller Prophets to make humanity their gentile, slave, A hinduism, crime against humanity and truth absolute.
      Nazi racist ideology has its roots in hindu, pagan Egypt, ancestral home land of Saxons, meaning tied to or forged with essence, meanings god's, subcontinent never was part of hindu denial of truth absolute but hinduism, racism was imposed by force by hindu's, criminals of Egypt and Persia on nomadic population of subcontinent by declaring themselves to be god's, while native's of Europe were slaughtered to extinction by hindu Gaul's, criminal self centered after they were defeated as hindu, deniers of truth abolute Pharaoh's by the king's of Sudan. Letter X, Hinduism, forgery of word, tied to or forged with. hindu criminal sign of swastika is formed by joining of upright hindu criminal Pharaoh's pyramid and up side down on same axis, invisible pyramid of his hindu pagan Priest, crossing point of both pyramid's creates Swastika above burial chamber of hindu, pagan, self centered Pharaoh. Envisioned by hindu, pagan Zoroaster, preached by hindu, criminal Plato and displayed in Physical form by hindu sanatan, filthy goon Pythagoras. Presence of hinduism, racism is less than 3000 thousand years old in sub continent , not as hindu's, deniers of truth absolute hind, lie of 6000 years in their Hinduism, absurdity. hindu filthy sign of hinduism, pagan ism labeled as Star of David by hindu Jew's, pagan secular s has nothing to do with Israelite but top view of meeting of two hindu, fabricated pyramid to illustrate god hood of two hindu, criminal person's.
      Word Jew is based on Latin word Yahood, Je or Ja, Ye, or Ya, meaning from heart and mind base word for Yes in English, HOOD, habit or habitat, meaning, self centered or a secular, denier of truth absolute, such as King, or Pig, in disregard to truth absolute and Judaism, One who takes a wow to be in violation of truth by his intent, considering himself to be the God, the truth absolute, same as in hindu, denier of truth absolute, word hindu is based on Latin word hindrance, negativity, HAN, great, Hun, to be in greatness and hin, to be negative to both of them, hindu, a noun in negativity, hinduism, way of negativity, as in word Jew, a self centered or a criminal, otherwise known as a goon, a shaman. Judaism is not a religion but in opposition, defiance to truth absolute in self center ism.
      In divine language word hinduism, absurdity called religion does not exist, borne out of hindu Judaism, filthy secularism defiance of truth absolute of Persia and Egyptian hindu pagan origin , hindu Jew's criminal secular s pretending to be Hebrew, but Theen Allah, way of truth absolute, source for peace, Shalom among humanity, Quran quantifies it and Hidat explains the La, limit's absolute to reach peace Islam in life. hinduism, corruption of truth absolute labeled a bible has nothing to do with truth absolute but justification of hindu Mithra ism, filthy savior ism, foundation of hindu filthy hinduism,. racism.
      World can never have peace in presence of hinduism, denial of truth absolute, humanity need to work together for elimination of hindu's, criminals and their hinduism, illegality.

      August 26, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.