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.
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.
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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.
I suggest anyone wishing to learn more about Islam read the Koran, front to back, a couple of times, as I have. In it, you'll see that anyone who is not a follower of Muhammned is an Infidel and Unbeliever and, at best, should be put to death.
There is no mention of killing anyone in the New Testament.
This phobia is not phobia, it was written in the Koran 1400-odd years ago by a crazed warlord. Islam has been at war with the rest of the world since then. They are now getting the weapons and the press coverage they've been looking for.
DEAD ON...not some moron on CNN telling me how I should feel......the future = hate....get used to it or tune it out I recommend the later
"you really kidding"... where did you read in the Quran "...an Infidel and Unbeliever and, at best, should be put to death...." did you just come out of GOP meeting or u just watched the Fox-News. How much do u charge to make-up and the write lies.
IIt might not have killed many whites as being not physically and technically stronger, but it rest of the world it butchered millions whereever it qwas equal or superior.
Sura 9:5 "So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters whenever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and line in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the obligatory charity, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is forgiving, merciful."
From Ibn Kathir, renowned eight-century scholar and the interpretation of the verse: "The four months mentioned in this verse refer to the four-month grace period mentioned in an earlier verse: "So travel freely for four months throughout the land." Allah said next, "So when the Sacred Months have passed," meaning upon the end of the four months during which [Allah] prohibited you from fighting the idolaters, Muslims are to "fight and kill the idolaters wherever you may find them." "Wherever you find them" means on the earth in general.... Allah said here to execute some and keep some as prisoners. “Besiege them and lie in wait for them in each and every ambush” means do not wait until you find them; rather seek and besiege them in their areas and forts, gather intelligence about them in the various roads and fairways so that what is made wide looks ever smaller to them. This way, they will have no choice but to dieor embrace Islam.… Abu Bakr [Muhammad’s closest friend and successor upon Muhammad’s death] used this and other honorable verses as proof for fighting against those who refrained from paying the obligatory charity tax. This verse allowed fighting people unless and until they embrace Islam and implement its rulings and obligations" – Tasfsir Ibn Kathir, Sura 9:5
Anything to say Akim?
While we wait another: "If you encounter [in war] those who disbelieve, you may strike the necks" (Sura 47:4; Khalifa).
or: "When ye encounter the infidels, strike off their heads. (Sura 47:4, Rodwell).
Ibn Kathir – "[Guide] the believers to what they should employ in their fight against the idolators. Allah says, “So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], smite their necks,” which means when you fight against them, cut them down totally with your swords. “Until you have fully defeated them” meaning you have killed and utterly destroyed them. This is referring to the prisoners of war whom you have captured." – Ibid., Sura 47:4
The GOP convention! Really?!
It does not make sense to worship man. Man does not become god or son of god. Pathetic author.
IIts not Phobia, its reality. What kind of government sponsors killing of some stupid filmmakers. Only Islamic government?
Thank you. From me despairing over many different CNN articles about faith, having Christianity being used as sensationalist pieces versus edification for other believers, having Scripture being used out of context, this is a critique of the way we have warped American Christianity that from my experience is justified and sound without forfeiting basic biblical principles.
So I deeply thank you for your words and the effect that it's had in my own struggles regarding Christ in the world's eye view.
please wake up.
radical christians don't where make-up, make there kids go to christian schools, wear odd clothing, buy your old books (the good ones) and generally want to avoid "the world" so as to avoid being corrupted by it. radical muslims treat women and children like dogs and want to destroy people who think differently. they celebrate the death of innocent "infidels" even if they are women and children. Human life is not important to them. Your article reflects the same naivety as the president's policies (if you really think that radicals have not infiltrated our government for the purpose of jihad you would be well served to look at history..ie cold war) . Christians are to be just what you say they should be-like christ in word and action. Goverments (namely ours) on the others hand, are there to protect the rights and freedoms of its citizens. you have confused the two.
Good words of advice to the fanatical, fundamentalist Christian community. Will you dare to compose a similar column for fundamentalist Muslims and publish it in all the countries whose people are burning the American Flag, attacking our embassies and killing our officials because of a silly movie. While you're at it, educated these people on what "free speech" means.
It's time for Christians to stop living under a rock and join the real world. We aren't asking you to indulge in materialistic sinful behavior. We are asking you to see from other people's perspectives; empathy. We are also asking you not to judge Muslims or Jews because that's specifically what your God and Jesus taught. Yet Christians are one of the most judgmental, hateful, radical groups dating further back from the Crusades.
If history was taught right, Christianity has been one of the most oppressive, violent, radical, and hateful religious group out of the more dominant religions that exist. It's time Christians take accountability for themselves and for AMerica to stop sheltering them from taking accountability. If you hurt Muslims in America, chances are Muslims in other countries will hear about it and hurt Christians there. Think wisely about yuor actions. It isn't God's will all the time. Sometimes things happen because of your own stupidity/ignorance that actually goes against your own principles/beliefs.
If you blame the Crusades, the Inquisition, or the Thirty Years War on the teachings of Jesus, then you need your brain re-booted. The perpetrators of those events were not remotely Christians.
The mediaeval papacy was foretold by Bible prophecy, and specifically disowned ahead of time. You need to get educated regarding the facts.
What is really ironic is that if you said the same thing about Muslims – they would kill you for it. Yet in your little mind Christians are the problem. Appears you are blind with Christianphobia.
Don't know if you have been reading revisionist history or what. The new covenant in Christ in the Bible doesn't prescribe armed conflict with unbelievers. There are estimates that places the number of Christians Martyred for their faith at between 130K and 160K per year. The Christians that are martyred are not martyred running across the boarder with a suicide vest strapped to them. IN most cases, they are martyred by Muslims for failing to denounce Christ and accept the first pillar of Islam – There is no god but Allah and Mohammad is his messenger.
All religion (often including Christianity) is about man searching for God. The Bible is God searching for man. While Christianity has had periods of persecution (Roman Catholic Church) of unbelievers, it wasn't every in accordance with the New Testament. That fact is not shared with Islam where the Qur'an, Sunnah and Hadith prescribed Jihad as an physical conflict against infidels and Jews that will not accept the first pillar of Islam. It would be much more beneficial to the discussion if you kept your facts straight.
can you imagine thousands of christians going to a middle eastern embassy in the U.S. and dragging the diplomat from that country through our streets before executing him? Can you imagine thousands of onlookers (say this happens in downtown manhatten) cheering gleefully?
Consider the irony: the same politically correct morons at CNN who champion gay marriage are trying to sympathize with Muslim fanatics pushing barbaric Sharia Law. And this is the same outfit which thinks conservatives are "stupid."
You are a prime example of an Islamiphobe. You don't even know it. Read the article again. It is about you.
Steve: Dave Farber actually knows how to think, and apparently you don't. His ability to reason does not qualify him as one who shakes in abject terror before the concept of Islam.
We will label you, correctly, for what you are, a Christianophobe. You are brainwashed by the power group that has taken over America, a group that fears and hates Christians, especially Protestants.
It’s like dealing with adolescents; they need a time-out – only permanently!
These people are like centuries behind us intellectually. They get all mad and riot and kill over Free Speech and a tv show!!!
What do expect from a murderous subculture that wraps men's heads in towels, women in burques and children in bombs?
Pathetic infidel morons.
Spreading false rumors vs. murdering and beheading people over perceived insults. Hmmmm, which one is worse?
Yes because Christians never committed murder or genocide or anything of that sort... You make me laugh. Christians have been the most violent throughout the times of all history.
Muslims have been the most violent and intolerent thorughout history. While all other religions have become civilized over the centuries – Muslims have not. Today Muslims are the problem period. They kill each other plus hate and kill anyone that is not Muslim.
Excuses, excuses and more excuses. Let's talk about today and the fact is the only religious fanatics doing major terrorism, ,murder and riots are Muslims. The only religion today that has clerics telling their followers to riot and kill is Muslims. The only religion today that has no tolerence of any other religion is Muslim. Finally the only religion today that kills when it is "insulted' is Muslims. Muslims are the problem – there is no excuse.
At any rate, I find it stupid to label a rational dislike of Islam as "Islamophobia". There is no equivalent term for any other religion–Christianophobia? Hinduphobia? Judeophobia? Why do we allow Islam to get away with violent nonsense, but call out all other religions on it? Especially given the fact that in virtually every country with a religious conflict, the conflict is between either the majority religion and Islam (China, Russia, Philippines, India) or two branches of Islam (Syria, Iraq, Bahrain)? Clearly there is something wrong with either Islam or the way it is practiced in the modern day. Why smear people who recognize that as "Islamophobic"?
One old lady used to through garbage on Prophet Muhammad ( Peace Be upon Him) every time he passed in front of her house, He never cursed her rather prayed for her. One day he passed her house, she did not through anything, he became worried and inquired about her from the people, if she is OK.
The real test for us Muslims is what would the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) have done if he were alive? The answer is insulting him or burning Quran would have no reaction, rather he would have prayed for these people.
You might want to avoid using the Hadith to guide your actions, Ijaz, as it is very contradictory, not well-sourced, and more violent than peaceful.
The "phobia" has absolutely nothing to do with the violence and hatred from muslims, does it? I don't hate them, but yes, they do scare me. I'm scared of hateful people that want to murder those that disagree with them. It looks as if the media is wrapped around their fingers.
You are the person in the article that is afraid for no reason. You are Islamophobic. You are not aware of what that religion is about.
I dare say, such an opinion column would not be seen in the Arab world? Frankly, Muslims must also open themselves to critiquing themselves. This will be a very healthy process
if Muslims critique themselves they would be by their beliefs have to kill themselves!!!!! They much prefer to kill you and to them that is their definition of a healthy process.
I do feel bad for the good muslims that held signs saying we're sorry America. Don't put us with the killers and thugs. That was encouraging after seeing nothing when 9-11 happened but cheering. However, my concern is how many of them will act here when they become more in population. Are these poeple with signs the minority or majority? I don't hate muslims but i don't trust the religion.
Hey Mr. McLaren, why don't you take a vacation to let's say..... Libya, Egypt, Yemen, or Tunisia and see how long it takes for the reality of Islamaphobia to set in for you. CNN ..is this trash standard for your newsgroup now????
I've been to Oman, Lebanon and Egypt several times. As a Christian I was treated extremely well. Where have you been?
Only for the new members:
What instigated the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon? And what drives today's 24/7 mosque/imam-planned acts of terror and horror and therefore Islamophobia?
The koran, Mohammed's book of death for all infidels and Muslim domination of the world by any means.
Muslims must clean up this book removing said passages admitting that they are based on the Gabriel myth and therefore obviously the hallucinations and/or lies of Mohammed.
Then we can talk about the safety and location of mosques and what is taught therein.
Until then, no Muslim can be trusted anytime or anywhere..................................
Well, writing this article is sort of inciting more hatred between Christians and Muslims.
I am a south asian christian and my family are christians that lived in a muslim nation. To be very honest, this islamic religion does have evidence for violence in it. My family is out of that nation however, we faced much discrimination in living in a Islamic nation in constant fear of the sharia law. There is too much violence and hatred towards other religions and lifestyles in the Muslim faith. Of course, everyone differs however, given all the cases of human rights violations and now this movie has increased violence in that area. The behavior of the Muslim people is appalling. No other religion in the world behaves this way in so much anger. Quote very appropriate for them: We don't see things as they are; we see things as we are. -Anais Nin
That is the problem when someone that calls them self a christian pretends to be an expert on the others religion and spread lies on HOLY KORAN. What this idiot is doing just repeating what some preacher who preaches hate and lies about the truth of the Holy Koran. How can a moran who cant even understand it's own religion to be an expert on ISLAM. How can you think that 19 criminals who blew up the twin towers represent 1.6 bilion muslims, does it make sense to any one with the right mind?? It's the same thing if we want to blame christians for world war two. Does Hitler represent christianity? Is every christian a Nazi or is responsible for the crimes the Nazi did? Of course not. that is the same thing if you want to blame 1.6 billion for these 19 criminals. These preachers who preach hate are destroying themselves and their whole decent folks that go to church and listen to this hate speach.It's time for you decent christians to wake up and smell the coffee,you are feeling your hearts not with love but with hate and when you are filled with hate, your good will disapear completely from you, you are no longer even a human,yoy will turn to a a beast with no conscience ,you will not know the difference between good and evil, you are no different than HITLER and his Nazis. HATE BRINGS ONLY HATE! IF WHO LOVE HATE AND START PRACTICING HATE, HATE WILL AUTOMATICALLY DESTROY YOU MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY. it has been proven in history,here are some names that used to call themselfs christians : ADOLF HITLER, VENITE MUSOLINI ( DUCE) ,These leaders preached hate and they destroyed europe and themselfs. In the end i will give you a good ADVICE, practise love respect for the others whatever their belive and the difference is, after all THANK GOD THIS IS STILL UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
From the studies of Armstrong, Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, Richardson and Bayhaqi----–
The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:
( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)
Are you ready?
Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.
The First Five of the 77 Branches:
"1. Belief in Allah"
aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your self-cleansing neurons.
"2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."
Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".
"3. To believe in the existence of angels."
A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.
"4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."
Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.
Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.
Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.
"5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings
be upon him) alone."
Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.
Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!
Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the "two-minute" cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.
Analogous steps are available at your request for deprogramming the myths of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism..
http://www.muslimaccess.com/quraan/arabic/005.asp et al
o "Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends." (Surah 5:51)
"Believers, when you encounter the infidels on the march, do not turn your backs to them in flight. If anyone on that day turns his back to them, except it be for tactical reasons...he shall incur the wrath of God and Hell shall be his home..." (Surah 8:12-)
"Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God's religion shall reign supreme." (Surah 8:36-)
"...make war on the leaders of unbelief...Make war on them: God will chastise them at your hands and humble them. He will grant you victory over them..." (Surah 9:12-)
"Fight against such as those to whom the Scriptures were given [Jews and Christians]...until they pay tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued." (Surah 9:27-)
"It is He who has sent forth His apostle with guidance and the true Faith [Islam] to make it triumphant over all religions, however much the idolaters [non-Muslims] may dislike it." (Surah 9:31-)
"If you do not fight, He will punish you sternly, and replace you by other men." (Surah 9:37-)
"Prophet make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home." (Surah 9:73)
"Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them." (Surah 9:121-)
"Say: 'Praise be to God who has never begotten a son; who has no partner in His Kingdom..." (Surah 17:111)
"'How shall I bear a child,' she [Mary] answered, 'when I am a virgin...?' 'Such is the will of the Lord,' he replied. 'That is no difficult thing for Him...God forbid that He [God[ Himself should beget a son!...Those who say: 'The Lord of Mercy has begotten a son,' preach a monstrous falsehood..." (Surah 19:12-, 29-, 88)
"Fight for the cause of God with the devotion due to Him...He has given you the name of Muslims..." (Surah 22:78-)
"Blessed are the believers...who restrain their carnal desires (except with their wives and slave-girls, for these are lawful to them)...These are the heirs of Paradise..." (Surah 23:1-5-)
"Muhammad is God's apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another." (Surah 48:29)
"Shall the reward of goodness be anything but good?...Dark-eyed virgins sheltered in their tents...They shall recline on green cushions and fine carpets...Blessed be the name of your Lord..." (Surah 55:52-66-)
I don't think the US started the phobia. It started in the muslim world decades before most americans even knew that muslims and Islam went together.
I find it pretty creepy this idea that muslim extremists are THE SAME as hard core christian fundamentalists.
Show me a fundy christian that encourages other christiand to destroy embassys . People don't like Islam because they don't like what they see on the global news not because evangelical christians dislike Islam.
This article manages to 1. insult muslims by portraying them as having no self control when someone insults them. and 2. insults americans with the idea that if we were just nicer to muslims then none of this would happen.
One example? Uh, the Third Reich?
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