home
RSS
My Take: It’s time for Islamophobic evangelicals to choose
September 15th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: It’s time for Islamophobic evangelicals to choose

Editor's Note: Brian D. McLaren  is author of "Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World" (Jericho Books/Hachette Book Group). 

By Brian McLaren, Special to CNN

I was raised as an evangelical Christian in America, and any discussion of Christian-Jewish-Muslim relations around the world must include the phenomenon of American Islamophobia, for which large sectors of evangelical Christianity in America serve as a greenhouse.

At a time when U.S. embassies are being attacked and when people are getting killed over an offensive, adolescent and puerile film targeting Islam - beyond pathetic in its tawdriness – we must begin to own up to the reality of evangelical Islamaphobia.

Many of my own relatives receive and forward pious-sounding and alarm-bell-ringing e-mails that trumpet (IN LOTS OF CAPITAL LETTERS WITH EXCLAMATION POINTS!) the evils of Islam, that call their fellow evangelicals and charismatics to prayer and “spiritual warfare” against those alleged evils, and that often - truth be told - contain lots of downright lies.

For example, one recent e-mail claimed “Egyptian Christians in Grave Danger as Muslim Brotherhood Crucifies Opponents."  Of course, that claim has been thoroughly debunked, but the sender’s website still (as of Friday) claims that the Muslim Brotherhood has “crucified those opposing" Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy "naked on trees in front of the presidential palace while abusing others.”

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Many sincere and good-hearted evangelicals have never yet had a real Muslim friend, and now they probably never will because their minds have been so prejudiced by Islamophobic broadcasts on so-called Christian television and radio.

Janet Parshall, for example, a popular talk show host on the Moody Radio Network, frequently hosts Walid Shoebat, a Muslim-evangelical convert whose anti-Muslim claims, along with claims about his own biography, are frequently questioned.  John Hagee, a popular televangelist, also hosts Shoebat as an expert on Islam, as does the 700 Club.

Many Christian bookstores that (used to) sell my books, still sell books such as Paul Sperry’s "Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington" (Thomas Nelson, 2008). In so doing, they fuel conspiracy theories such as the ones U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota, promoted earlier this year.

In recent days, we’ve seen how irresponsible Muslim media outlets used the tawdry 13-minute video created by a tiny handful of fringe Christian extremists to create a disgusting caricature of all Christians - and all Americans - in Muslim minds. But too few Americans realize how frequently American Christian media personalities in the U.S. similarly prejudice their hearers’ minds with mirror-image stereotypes of Muslims.

Ambassador's killing shines light on Muslim sensitivities around Prophet Mohammed

Meanwhile, many who are pastors and leaders in evangelicalism hide their heads in the current issue of Christianity Today or World Magazine, acting as if the kinds of people who host Islamophobic sentiments swim in a tiny sidestream, not in the mainstream, of our common heritage. I wish that were true.

The events of this past week, if we let them, could mark a turning point - a hitting bottom, if you will - in the complicity of evangelicalism in Islamophobia. If enough evangelicals watch or try to watch the film trailer that has sparked such outrage in the Middle East, they may move beyond the tipping point.

I tried to watch it, but I couldn’t make it halfway to the 13-minute mark. Everything about it was tawdry, pathetic, even pornographic. All but the most fundamentalist believers from my evangelical Christian tribe who watch that video will be appalled and ashamed to be associated with it.

It is hate speech. It is no different from the anti-Semitic garbage that has been all too common in Western Christian history. It is sub-Christian - beneath the dignity of anyone with a functioning moral compass.

Islamophobic evangelical Christians - and the neo-conservative Catholics and even some Jewish folks who are their unlikely political bedfellows of late - must choose.

Will they press on in their current path, letting Islamophobia spread even further amongst them? Or will they stop, rethink and seek to a more charitable approach to our Muslim neighbors? Will they realize that evangelical religious identity is under assault, not by Shariah law, not by the liberal media, not by secular humanism from the outside, but by forces within the evangelical community that infect that religious identity with hostility?

If I could get one message through to my evangelical friends, it would be this: The greatest threat to evangelicalism is evangelicals who tolerate hate and who promote hate camouflaged as piety.

No one can serve two masters. You can’t serve God and greed, nor can you serve God and fear, nor God and hate.

The broad highway of us-them thinking and the offense-outrage-revenge reaction cycle leads to self-destruction. There is a better way, the way of Christ who, when reviled, did not revile in return, who when insulted, did not insult in return, and who taught his followers to love even those who define themselves as enemies.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

Yes, “they” – the tiny minority of Muslims who turn piety into violence – have big problems of their own. But the way of Christ requires all who claim to be Christians to examine our own eyes for planks before trying to perform first aid on the eyes of others. We must admit that we have our own tiny minority whose message and methods we have not firmly, unitedly and publicly repudiated and rejected.

To choose the way of Christ is not appeasement. It is not being a “sympathizer.”

The way of Christ is a gentle strength that transcends the vicious cycles of offense-outrage-revenge.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Brian D. McLaren.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Islam • My Take • Opinion

soundoff (8,500 Responses)
  1. zwqbjum

    cheap jerseys free shipping "You all have already seen four young culprits are how to be killed off by this cloud seniors?On winking, strangle to death four small ants similar, this cloud senior this is also too severe, my darling, this is what state, this is what real strenght, terrible must have no a side, abnormal must have no a side.Don't know to the peak superior who ascends ground Nie of this world over to fly to rise state, how victory or defeat is, only afraid we the whole group all no one can what then get him."

    nfl jerseys china nike 锘縏horoughly disappear in this world.

    reebok nfl jerseys sale 锘縎elf-discipline, the first is to be from and Be from well, what resourceses all ready, method Jue, work properly a medicine and infuse a crest 鈥︹€eap all the ability heap come out a genius, the second is a luck, luck, and the third is a power of understanding, then is a bitterness to do.

    reebok nfl jerseys cheap "You all have already seen four young culprits are how to be killed off by this cloud seniors?On winking, strangle to death four small ants similar, this cloud senior this is also too severe, my darling, this is what state, this is what real strenght, terrible must have no a side, abnormal must have no a side.Don't know to the peak superior who ascends ground Nie of this world over to fly to rise state, how victory or defeat is, only afraid we the whole group all no one can what then get him."

    nfl jerseys china nike 锘縏horoughly disappear in this world.

    top sports jerseys "Yuan?At 1:00 also not Yuan!Somebody else cloud senior that is the Kuang a for 1,000,000 years rare in a life time difficult of rare genius, the real strenght deeply can not measure, can make odds even with the superior of this peakest world.Won this time, that was cloud senior contain real strenght, is destroying evil for group.If is true to have no this real strenght, cloud senior cut off most intelligent of person, will be hard to collide with them, bear for a while not good.Cloud senior fixs in order to make progress not and know how fast, only afraid will quickly fly to rise field in a sky."

    boots uggs 锘緽ecause only with lend a bitterness to do, again good talent, have no strong way of approach background as backing, there is no fairy good luck, the fortuitous is an impossible self-discipline to match a territory.

    kids nfl jerseys from china 锘?To, this senior what person, positively not careless.Early hear just arrived a group and English teacher way the Dou must make odds even, a war but fame show Yang, obviously is the arrogant role of pole genius, have ready plans to meet a situation."

    authentic nfl jerseys cheap wholesale Also doing not let an owner respond to come over immediately after is still turning a head to daze four to attend to, vision in succession in disorder the disorderly all directions is full empty cloud idea Yang the figure in the search, then smells an underground Dou monster a field in, spread exploding of frightened Wu Dan of the four tones sound.

    cheapest nfl jerseys 锘?All of them are the peak persons of young generation, a to four, I ain't optimistic about, this senior again is the strong ability strong to arrive what extent, I don't greatly see age and still have to be young than those four young culprits, and obviously have no groundwork in the group and see is placed in a minority."

    November 28, 2013 at 2:30 am |
  2. Oxford American Editor Responds-spun2

    Hi! I just now wished to make time to make an observation and state I've acquired actually loved taking a look at your blog. Thanks in your entire operate. Oxford American Editor Responds-spun2 http://www.chengying.net.cn/thread-1897313-1-1.html

    May 14, 2013 at 3:02 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Advertisement
About this blog

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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.