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.”
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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.
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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.
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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.
The entire premise of the article is based on a false assumption: That Islam is a religion. It is so much more. Any honest discussion demands recognition that it is also a government. It's the "government" part that has Evnagelical's attention. A government that would use terrorism against Christians, Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, aethiests, & Jews. The bumper sticker theology is simple: You cannot coexist with people who want to kill you.
Unfortunately we now have a government too week and a media too incometent to understand we're not fighting a religion, but another government. Calling some "Islamophobic" is more akin to calling someone "anti-Communist."
Rob the more I see the more I understand I am starting to think that your thoughts hit the bulls eye. This ' peaceful religion " does seem more like a form of tyrannical Government.
I quibble with only one point: "tiny". The hate-in-the-guise-of-piety groups may be minorities, but they don't strike me as "tiny".
What a bunch of nonsense.
It is only a question of time when the first Islamic fool will blow himself up at the Oktoberfest in Munich/Germany.
The Good Being which has created us wants us to love each other independent from distinct belief, nationality, color, social status, etc.. We simpy should respect our human dignity. A true Christian will love his Muslim neighbour despite his false religion Islam, he will also love his Catholic neighbour despite his false religion Catholicism (of course, this refers only to ordinary Muslims and Catholics; criminal Muslims and Catholics are a case for the authority; actually it should be beyond imagination that a true Christian committs any crime but it is possible, and then he is also a case for the authority).
The great difference between genuine Christianity and Islam is that you can justify no killing of infidels by the genuine Christian doctrine but you can justify the killing of infidels by the Islamic doctrine. Hence, Christianity is much better than Islam, or Islam is a criminal religion innately because Jihad (killing of infidels) belongs to its core tenets.
Muhammad spread his demonic nonsense by using the sword which is a historical fact, in contrast, Jesus spread the divine truth only by words.
A great problem in the Western World is the crowd of nominal Christians, that means people which call themselves Christians (mostly they are Catholics or Cheap-Grace-Protestants but also Anabaptists) which don't really live as true Christians in daily life although they are baptized, and pretend to believe.
This regretable state is perceived by the Umma (Muslim community), and I guess that they perceice us as nasty hypocrites which have to be punished in the name of Allah. It is true that we have to be punished but this is not the task of the Muslims or Umma but God's own task. God is the only being which has the right to judge (the authority has a divine mandate to judge criminals). The Muslims committ an unforgiveable crime when they presume to be our judges (even the Holy God Jesus did not judge us but offered grace; first after the period of grace he will judge).
The Muslims err when they assume the Christian faith would be the reason for the corruption of the Western World, that is a very nonsense. The Christian doctrine is very good in itself, yet the problem is that too less people really believe in the Son of God Jesus, and follow him in daily life which would mean suffering and rejection but happyness of the soul.
The great dark mystery of Muhammad and the Koran is that they regard us as infidels. Shortly before Muhammad started to preach the Islam in Arabia (around 610 a. D.) the Christian Eastern Roman Empire Byzantium had experienced a great crisis under the rule of the usurper Phocas (the worst tyrant of all history) who was an ancient kind of Hitler. Possibly the "Christian" soldiers of Phoca's armies committed terrible crimes in Near East, and Muhammad became witness of that because he as a merchant stayed in Palestine very often. Yet, Muhammad made a mistake to conclude that Christianity was the reasom for the misbehaviour of the "Christian" Roman soldiers. The reason was the criminal leader Phocas whom Dr. Martin Luther called an incarnation of the devil. By the way, Phocas also introduced papacy by making the Roman See the highest one on earth.
And also today the reason for the misery of the Western World and all its moral doom and loss of culture is not Christianity but godless leaders which are greedy for honor, power and riches, and to a large extend the unholy pope (successor of Judas Iscariot according to Luther) with his wrong doctrine.
How to solve the Islamic issue?
Simply when we call ourselves Christians we should really live as Christians. God, the Father, delivered God, the Son, Jesus for our sins, and raised him from the dead for our justification. If we believe that and get sacramentally baptized (or remember our infant baptism) we become righteous. This righteousness is not only a status but through faith in Christ we behave righteous in daily life. If we do so, God will be with us, and protect us from our enemies.
Concerning the Oktoberfest in Munich/Bavaria:
Don't go there, it is only a question of time when the first Islamic fool blows himself up there. You may respond that half of the population of Munich are policemen, and could protect the visitors of the great Binge but I tell you that the police of Munich is not even able to catch bicycle thiefs; how then should they be able to protect us from the Islamists?
In the name of Jesus Christ.
Wow. Some ostriches stick their heads in sand, and others stick their heads into dusty old books and self-authored missives and draw comfort that their "hole" is more real than their colleagues sand holes.
You point out that the Muslims consider you/us infidels. Well, just for fun I'd like to add that the Jews call you gentiles, and the Catholics call you, well, Protestants. Not of the order of high Protestantism (Lutherans, Church of England), but that of radical groups even more far removed from the One true and original faith that began 2000 years ago. Full disclosure here, I'm Catholic, I've traveled throughout the Middle East, attended services at a Mosque, and even have Muslim friends and colleagues. I'm curious to know how many Muslims you've encountered in your lifetime and how much brotherly love you've shown them?
Mr. McLaren, you may well choose to see being a Christian as an obligation to commit suicide in the spirit of loving your neighbors and those that despise you. But I don't. To the extent that islam seems intent, as it certainly does, on the killing and destruction of non-muslims, I must resist. You cannot be the good guy if you are dead. Your post here, at this time, is most highly offensive and is itself dangerous.
Christianity obligates one to live like Christ. Period. What do you think the crucifixion was if not the willing sacrifice of one's life?
What were Christ's words on this subject? Not the old testament words of blood and war and revenge, but what Jesus said when he taught his true followers to turn away from the old testament and take up the new faith of peace.
What are you talking about? What kind of christian are you if you even make such statements. What about Stephen? The first martyr in the bible, who was stoned to death in the name of Jesus? Are you calling him a fool for being a "good guy" that died for his Christian ideals? or are you saying he is not a "good guy" because he is dead? This article is right, stop being so afraid my fellow christians brethren. Jesus told us to be happy when we suffer and are persecuted in his name, he told us to turn the other cheek, and not only to love our neighbors, but love our enemies. Things will only get worse, because we live in a time when our ideals are perceived as a threat by the people around us, and that is not our religions fault, it's our fault for the way we carry it out. We can not encourage hate, or fear, because those words don't represent our mighty god, and therefore should not represent us. I would much rather be a good guy, and if it is Gods plan for me to die, I would much rather die for him than take antohers life in his name.
While personally not a fan or follower of any religion, how is it possible to have any respect for Islam? The slightest perceived insult is met with outrageous violence. Their lack of any understanding of where this film came from is beyond comprehension. To them its the American government, they can't be bothered, nor do they care to learn more about it's origins. It's beyond (my) comprehension of how to deal with the people. I truly believe that they just need to be separated from everyone else. Leave them alone, deal with security threats to us or our allies via drones and LRBM's. What else are we going to do? Logic, talking to one another, heck even simple decency doesn't work.
Don't forget the atrocities committed in the name of Christianity. You don't even have to go back to the 1500s... shooting abortion doctors certainly leaps to mind as a modern example. Evangelicals and radical Muslims are two sides of the same coin, and each side would recoil from such an idea. They very well could cause the end of the world they've been touting for so long.
yes islam has been violent.so have christianity and judaism.dont forget christian countries have killed hundreds of millions during the wars that they have waged against other countries or lands.ww1,ww2vietnam,korea,100 year war,colonozing africa,killing almost all natives of the american continent and australia.and not to forget the chosen people going from europe and claiming a land in the middle east claiming that god gave them that land.all abrahamic cults have been nothing but a source of misery for humanity.ps.dont forget those child molesting catholic priests also.
You are a retard. Nazis were not christians, more pagan. Soviet Union who helped start WWII, was atheist. Koreans aren't Christian. Korean war was started by Buddhists.... Get your facts straight.
Complete and utter garbage...
9/11 difficult for americans to forget. Has filled them with revenge, hate, fear Hmmmmm!
You think that the people you enslaved america have happy memories about how you abused, TERRORIZED and killed their fore-parents and how they are still mistreated today?
Memory does strange things to people of all races. REFLECT because the evangelical churches do not address these issues.
Why did Jesus oppose the pharisees? Pretty much they were like your R. party and evangelical leaders. Remember he was middle eastern and we saw his temper when he drove out the money changers. I love it.
I just hate when evangelical christians storm embassies and sodomize ambassadors. Or put on su1cide vests and blow them up in marketplaces filled with kids. Or cut off peoples heads... Oh, wait that isn;t the Christians. Nice try though CNN...
they dont have to.f 18s and cruise missiles do that for them.
LOL The US gives 1.3 Billion to Egypt EVERY year for their military. Try to get your facts straight...
The Wienstien Brothers (miramax) have carried out a jihad against Christianity for years. We just don't watch their movies.
Movies and bookstores are not the problem. The problem is radical violent extremism coming from a major religious group that sees itself as superior to the rest of the world. I'm not a Christian or a Muslim, but I am an American. When free speech and religion butt heads, I vote for freedom of speech every time. If someone wants to try to take that away from me, that's the day, as a patriotic citizen, that I pick up my rifle.
Brian D. McLaren, propgandist and promoter of a one world religion (aka interfaith). Just take a look at his book and you'll see for yourself. I don't know how this man can claim to be a Christian and promote the validation of other faiths. Jesus Christ said himself there is only one true faith; only one way to God. That way is through him alone. Did you forget that Mr. McLaren?
All the other faiths say the same thing. All baloney. All the gods that have been worshiped since the beginning of history would fill 10 football stadiums. But of course, YOURS is the only one that's real. It's just ancient mythology, grow a brain.
Correct me if I am wrong but this is an article about Christians. Why do you even care? You are an athiest.
only ONE way to Heaven...... through Jesus Christ
...And here we go...
Hmm.. I expect a lot of Muslims would differ with that claim. As might atheists. I'm not sure there's any justice though. While bin Laden should be in hell right now, I wouldn't count on it.
" 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."
You lost me right there. Your underlying assumption is that the more "fundamentalist" Christians are, the more likely they are to enjoy this poorly made movie.
In other words, you are simply assuming that people who disagree with you are not only wrong but stupid and ill-cultured to boot. That's no way to win an argument, but it is a way to get published on CNN, apparently.
Wow. What a bunch of blah blah blah nonsense. Delusional much?
If "Christians" actually followed Christ, it would indeed be a different world.
We do not have an Islamophobia problem in the USA. But they are starting to have an Evangelicophobia out break at CNN.
Except for when we burn down their mosques, vandalize their mosques, try and prevent them from building mosques, beat them, and post thousands of hateful messages on here.
The Yanks have been under a simultaneous directed attack in several countries since 9-11-2012. This has NOTHING to do with a film. The film has been out for months. The internet is filled with other anti-Islamic material. Are we really to believe these people, in several countries, awoke up on 9-11, discovered an obscure film at the same time and all decided to attack?
Blaming the attacks on a film is a red herring to provide cover for your leadership's lack of response while under attack.
Why doesn't Mr. Obama do something to protect American interest? He has been invisible while you are under attack. I am disappointed and fearful for America as your enemies will become emboldened.
Not invisible, after all he will be on Letterman.
When will humanity cast off the shackles of ancient mythology and superst!tious nonsense. Evangelicals are hateful and deluded. True, they don't go around killing people like Islamic extremists, but they are full of hatred and bigotry. All religions are nothing but ancient mythology, written thousands of years ago by members of primitive cultures. Why anyone in their right min would accept such nonsense has always boggled my mind. This is the 21st century, not the 14th. We don't need ancient mythology and superst!tious nonsense. We know a lot about the Universe and what we know doesn't fit with the ancient writings of bronze-age people. Nor do we need imaginary, invisible beings in the sky. But the ignorant masses persist in wallowing in their fantasy world and in trying to force their fairytales on everyone else. That's what's wrong with the world. Ignorant people fighting over their sky fairies. When will people wake up and embrace science, logic, reason and objectivity instead of ancient mythology? There is no hope for the human race until that happens. We'll continue killing each other over sky fairies.
:), :), :)
I am thinking we are 80 to 100 years out. We probably need three more generations before religion starts to be marginalized to the point that it no longer enters our national conversation. That seems wildly optimistic when we consider the political rhetoric of the right (and some left) but myths cannot stand in the clear light of day. I am reading that 20% of Americans consider themselves atheist now. What religions see as an attack by the secular world is just the rising irrelevance of their message. If they were confident in their God, they would brush aside comments such as mine as a bull dismisses a gnat. What is my voice in the presence of God? Their anger or fear is just the confessions of their doubts.
You know, Socrates, who is a philosopher we still study today for his genius, accomplished a lot as well. He knew more than was common for the man of his time, yet his famous quote is "i know one thing, that I know nothing". The very fact that you consider to know more than the people around you, or people of past centuries, proves you are ignorant. Religion hasn't been debunked yet, science hasn't proved yet that living things can come from non living microscopical organisms. And what exactly do you know? You keep saying "we" as in "we know a lot more about our universe".. but what do you know? You didn't help create a spaceship, you didn't contribute to cybernetics, you didn't create the first car engine, you didn't create the first airplane, you didn't create the first toilet, you didn't even create or contribute to the creation of the printing press (which is the means by which atheist like to spread their opinions).. right, all those inventions (and thousands more) were created by people centuries ago, mostly christians, whom you consider yourself to be smarter than. You keep saying "we", as a world "we" know all the religions, however, i myself only know a few. As a world "we" know every language, however i myself only know three. You really don't know anything, if the basis for your knowledge comes from things that others know, but you have no idea about yourself. So please, spare the internet of your comments, until you become as knowledgeable as you think you are.
The point that these fake "evangelical Christian" writers keep missing is that Jesus is a prophet in Islam too. Where are the protests in the Islamic world when Jesus is displayed in a revolting "art" scene. One "art" display had an image of jesus floating in pee, another of Jesus made out of human poo. Mass riots in Middle East countries over this? Nope, not a peep. Radical Islamists who are burning churches and killing christians are who we see in these videos. And there are a lot more of them than CNN would like to admit.
The attacks and the death tolls against Americans and Christian from the Muslims are very real Mr. McLaren and it is natural for those wanting to survive to warn and inform those they care about when there is a danger in their midst. No one is buying the "peaceful religion of Islam anymore". Too much has happened for that lie to be perpetuated any further.
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