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.
......."Since when does being an evangelical Christian involve a moral compass?
I now ask and have been asking for some time...."since when being an evangelical christian means that you think and act like the LORD? Truly, honestly. I guess the lord would say, yep blow them up, they attack you, u do the same. Thought he came to do away with moses law (moses lived in the middle east). What do evangelicals believe? PLEASE DO NOT ANSWER.
Jihad is at the core of Islam. The Cross is at the core of Christianity. Thankfully, most Muslims do not go to the core of Islam. Unfortunately, most Christians do not go to the core of Christianity.
get back under your rock
Well said Mr. Peters!
I don't have a complete understanding of Islam, but from what I do know it seems that the Koran promotes violence, and it has no new testament. Many people that have had a life of interrelationships with Muslims of various types defend them and say they are peaceful. So evidently there are many folks who confess the faith that are just normal cool down to earth people. However I can find very few that can quote verses from this book that promotes peaceful coexistence with the rest of the world. I often see the Christian bible misunderstood, and badly quoted. It has also been said earlier on this thread that the English version of the Koran cannot convey it's true meaning.
Getting to the point, today I heard a Muslim who converted to Christianity say that it is not so much a religion but is a form of government that makes it a crime to believe anything else, this is a crime codified into the law of many nations punished by death. ( this was on AFR so I took it with a grain of salt) but if there is a Muslim reading this that can use verses in the Koran to say it promotes peace, love, or tolerance please quote them to me. Religions of all types are evil, the folks that were responsible for nailing Jesus to the cross used religion as their excuse. So I understand how simple faith can be hijacked by " religious" people and turned into evil. At this point from what little I know, I have concluded that the Koran teaches it's followers to kill the infidel. So are all the peaceful Muslims not true believers of the Koran but simply good folks that are entrapped by the culture they live in? Don't beat me up, I think it is understandable that I think the true followers of the Koran and associated books are a threat to world peace. If they are misguided radicals with no understanding of the true teaching of Islam help me to understand this. If Islam is a true faith system, "a religion of peace 'it is time for those of that faith not only to point out how many peaceful Muslims there are in the world, but to explain to the rest of the world how and where in the Koran that there are teachings that promote love, peace, and tolerance of others.
Kill Anyone who Approaches the Tabernacle
For the LORD had said to Moses, 'Exempt the tribe of Levi from the census; do not include them when you count the rest of the Israelites. You must put the Levites in charge of the Tabernacle of the Covenant, along with its furnishings and equipment. They must carry the Tabernacle and its equipment as you travel, and they must care for it and camp around it. Whenever the Tabernacle is moved, the Levites will take it down and set it up again. Anyone else who goes too near the Tabernacle will be executed.' (Numbers 1:48-51 NLT)
Kill People for Working on the Sabbath
The LORD then gave these further instructions to Moses: 'Tell the people of Israel to keep my Sabbath day, for the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between me and you forever. It helps you to remember that I am the LORD, who makes you holy. Yes, keep the Sabbath day, for it is holy. Anyone who desecrates it must die; anyone who works on that day will be cut off from the community. Work six days only, but the seventh day must be a day of total rest. I repeat: Because the LORD considers it a holy day, anyone who works on the Sabbath must be put to death.' (Exodus 31:12-15 NLT)
The fact that most Americans reject Islam is because it is a deadly, worthless and useless ideology. Awareness of useless ideologies is not a phobia. Do we ever see Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Baptist, Methodist or Catholic churches in Saudi Arabia or any other countries destroyed and oppressed by Islam? The rejection of Christianity and Christian churches is Christianophobia on the part of Islamists. If Muslims had faith in their child-molester and self-styled prophet Mohammed and Islam, they would allow Christianity into their countries to prove that it cannot stand against Islam. But they fear God’s truth; that is why they do not allow Christianity in their countries.
Biscuit-lipped Islamist mass-murderer Osama Bin Laden said he would not rest until h saw the green flag o Islam flying over the White House. Of course we finally got rid of him but his brain-washed followers are still trying to fulfill his wish.
We often catch Islamist terrorist infiltrating the USA trying to commit acts of terrorism in the name of Islam: The Shoe Bomber, The Underwear Bomber, Muslims casing potential targets such as nuclear plants and the Islamists murders of 911, the blind Egyptian Sheik in New York inciting terror and many others.
There have been occasional acts of terrorism by Americans on American soil but the difference is that they did not do it in the name of any religion but because of what they think is a just cause.
Therefore, self-preservation is not a phobia but a survival instinct. If Muslims continue behaving with such a ruthless violence around the world and within the USA, our Congress may have to ban Islam by declaring it to be a hostile and useless ideology and not a believer-friendly religion.
But the way Mr. Brian D. McLaren writes about Islam and its deadly purposes, he seems to suffer a severe case of denial worst than that of Bagdad Bob.
When will the first Muslim suicide bomber visit the Binge in Munich?
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.
Stop posting that ignorant blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah nonsense. Copying and pasting it 20 times doesn't make it true. It just makes you look like a fool.
get some serious help, therapy and medications do wonders these days
Are you not able to write an own comment? You shall not criticise other comments but write your own one.
Hey dimwit, see – I can copy and paste too:
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 invisible sky fairies.
I agree that Christianity is not the reason for corruption in the Western World. People create and corrupt institutions like the Christian churches and bend them to their own ends. The people who do evil and justify it in the name of Christianity should be held accountable. Perhaps we can salvage something from the churches that can be used to do good in the world..
Religion on all sides IS the problem!
Kill Followers of Other Religions.
1) If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. Your hand shall be the first raised to slay him; the rest of the people shall join in with you. You shall stone him to death, because he sought to lead you astray from the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. And all Israel, hearing of this, shall fear and never do such evil as this in your midst. (Deuteronomy 13:7-12 NAB)
2) Suppose a man or woman among you, in one of your towns that the LORD your God is giving you, has done evil in the sight of the LORD your God and has violated the covenant by serving other gods or by worshiping the sun, the moon, or any of the forces of heaven, which I have strictly forbidden. When you hear about it, investigate the matter thoroughly. If it is true that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, then that man or woman must be taken to the gates of the town and stoned to death. (Deuteronomy 17:2-5 NLT)
Death for Blasphemy
One day a man who had an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father got into a fight with one of the Israelite men. During the fight, this son of an Israelite woman blasphemed the LORD's name. So the man was brought to Moses for judgment. His mother's name was Shelomith. She was the daughter of Dibri of the tribe of Dan. They put the man in custody until the LORD's will in the matter should become clear. Then the LORD said to Moses, "Take the blasphemer outside the camp, and tell all those who heard him to lay their hands on his head. Then let the entire community stone him to death. Say to the people of Israel: Those who blaspheme God will suffer the consequences of their guilt and be punished. Anyone who blasphemes the LORD's name must be stoned to death by the whole community of Israel. Any Israelite or foreigner among you who blasphemes the LORD's name will surely die. (Leviticus 24:10-16 NLT
Read Numbers:31 and you'll see what Christianity is really about.
If the same film was done about Jesus I just can't imagine Christians rising up like these people. The violence is insane. It's not the religion that's the problem.
This whole mess. . .and your opinion. . .just shows how organized religion is the HEART of evil in the world.
They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. (2 Chronicles 15:12-13 NAB)
Kill False Prophets
If a man still prophesies, his parents, father and mother, shall say to him, "You shall not live, because you have spoken a lie in the name of the Lord." When he prophesies, his parents, father and mother, shall thrust him through. (Zechariah 13:3 NAB)
Kill the Entire Town if One Person Worships Another God
Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt. Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. He will have compassion on you and make you a great nation, just as he solemnly promised your ancestors. "The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him." (Deuteronomy 13:13-19 NLT)
Kill Women Who Are Not Virgins On Their Wedding Night
But if this charge is true (that she wasn't a virgin on her wedding night), and evidence of the girls virginity is not found, they shall bring the girl to the entrance of her fathers house and there her townsman shall stone her to death, because she committed a crime against Israel by her unchasteness in her father's house. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 22:20-21 NAB)
All that demonstrates is Christians are smarter than Muslims.
Whereas, thousands of years ago, the Old Testament called for such things, today, Christians have learned from their mistakes and no longer do such things (If they ever did at all). The same can't be said for Muslims, who apparently still think all the stuff in the Koran about killing and deceiving should continue into to the 21st century.
Fun game replace where the author of this article evangelical christian and replace it will Jewish, Muslim or Black and tell me it would not be labeled as hate speech, that he decries
Hate speech is not just an opinion on the internet, so your idea won't work. Sorry.
Pot calling kettle black. Distinction without a difference. Same brush.
As Christian we are called to a peace filled life. But at the same time all through the bible there are deadly and bloody battles fought and won in the name of GOD. ISLAM is taking advantage of the gentle nature of Christ.
But there was another side to our Lord. That side cleared the temple. He didn't blow smoke up the skirts of the pharasies.
Catholics have long been chastised for the crusades. Yet we have to embrace a gihad because of what? Fear? Political Correctness? Tolerance? In the last ten years almost 10k Americans of all faiths have died in the name of Allah. We have no number on how many innocent people have died. We know that Christians are executed there. Does our God really want us to let it continue?
Who cares what an imaginary supernatural being wants? Grow a brain.
No, the Pope is Catholic so he isn't an Evangelical Christian either. He neither goes to an evangelical church nor spends much time with evangelicals. My point is that if you aren't an evangelical and don't live among them you can't get an accurate sense of the sentiment of the average evangelical. As an evangelical spending vast amounts of time among them I can say that Mr. McLaren's critique does not resonate with my personal experience of evangelicals.
@Simple: And you are a frog being slowly cooked. :-)
Yes this artical hits on one important point, and raises a more important question. There are emails and publications circulating continously that breed fear and misunderstanding. Given the nature of people, this will eventuallt lead to a result. These Emails, publications, and other forms of this media are not limited to the christian community. It is in all communities.
What we should be asking is what is the source. What is the purpose? And are any of the souces for different groups the same?
Groups of people tend to move along with the heard, it has been deminstrated over and over again. Who is doing the hearding?
We all need to not get so emotionally involved in any piece of information before it can be verified. I have even heard people in my church say things about a wide varity of topics, each time I ask for the source... I think they are startng to get it.
Always verify the facts.
Yes we need to all use our brains
aliens take me away from this barbaric world
Calgon™! Take me away!
morman aliens or just the regular kind?
all religion is silly and dangerous, we will not advance as a people till we discard it.
that is the most intelligent post ive seen.
These comments make me really glad I'm a deist.
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