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.
What a warped view of reality. Muslim groups raided our embassy and killed our diplomat and this guy writes about evangelical bias like Christians are to blame for it? What does he call the bias of the Egyptian rioters? No Christians I know promoted this video. This dude's judgement is misplaced and argument poorly made.
The dude is a bully. Picking on Christians is like stealing lunch money from a 1st grader. They do not fight back. They leave it up to God. Now if this dude were all that he would be picking on Islam. But he is scared of getting hurt and he wants no part of that.
Al Russell O.K I thought about it so open the door. Not the old testament stuff that was before grace. Most of what you can site will be religious nuts like the ones who nailed Jesus to the cross. Yes religion is evil. Jesus taught this. All humankind have the capacity to do evil. Good people do bad things everyday and sometimes in the name of religion. Bad people are capable of doing good things and often do. People of no faith are no more immune to this than anyone else.
It's funny how those who support Muslims point out that not all are radical Islamists, but are quick to generalize all evangelicals together.
There are extremist radicals on both sides! True Christians understand that God is love and Christ called all of us to love our brothers as ourselves. The problem is there is a dual-standard in tolerance. I haven't seen any Christians protesting outside mosques or Arab embassies or consulates and threatening to burn them down or kill anyone.
Bottomline: If your faith teaches tolerance and peace then show it through action, not words! That's how we find true peace amongst one another. Live by your faith and have mutual respect for one another, not trying to force your religious belief on others.
well the problem is that some people live by their religion that has values, beliefs, and practices that harm others who in their system of religious belief – have been taught to become enlightened through education and higher thinking practices – i.e. – educated – and that the meek would survive – cuz if your smaller it helps to be meeker if you cannot hit back as hard – because then you might Really and Truly find yourself on the short end of the stick ... so better to become smarter or larger in brain in order to learn how to truly survive – because it truly takes a tremendous amount of intelligence and listening and learning to have a chance to not only survive – but to also thrive – which all people need in order to survive.
so then – the desire for those who are thus 'enlightened' or more learned in better ways to truly have more healthy ways for many to survive and thrive – want to eventually teach their brethren these better ways – because usually they are brethren as well – even if in nothing more than in the innate knowledge that all things exist dependent upon other things ... and all things obviously do want to exist ... or there would be no existence at all – because that is the nature of existence – and without existence – there obviously is no need for existence – which some people choose because their existence becomes one in which they cannot survive nor thrive ...
I read a CNN article about how TRULY brave the Afghanistan children were to walk and go to school – because of course they face terrorist actions like in USA in our schools sometimes – only bigger – and they are much smaller in ability to control said actions than USA has tried to master – and failed for various reasons mostly due to pills and guns and ignorance of mental health true care – instead of mental defective care – if you really examine the situation – and evaluate the facts fairly – and not based upon who is right because of their wallet, or who is bigger, etc.
but, without the education of these children's family, especially the men as well siblings, then these children will be deemed to be sort of educated non-educated victims – so – noone wants that – but many are not educated enough to understand that fact ... because so very many of them are not educated – and cannot read, etc. – and others want to see what will happen without examining well known facts about what will happen – because they want things to be better.
these things need to also be considered by all in order to be healthy place for all, because without all being educated, than there are many who will not be educated because they will be needed for the uneducated to survive and thrive – in their own way – which is their own ...
they will have to have true support in order to become more sustainable and all educated – and this education should be beneficial to all – not just to a few ... in order for all to lend true support and not false control for their own needs.
but this all takes time, and will, and the decision to do things better ... for all
If you would not want to be them – then help them to become more educated so they can truly be who they are – human beings – and not chattel ... easily replaced and erased
Christians don't have to choose, the world has to choose. My gut reaction is that jihad cuts both ways and sometimes outright extermination is a viable option when faced with an endemic threat to one's culture and way of life. I do regard jihadist Islam to be that threat to Western culture. On the other hand, a very observant Muslim is a friend, and I see another facet o the faith with which I would be glad to live, far more so than some Appalachian snake handler. Here's the crux: will my very observant Muslim friend himself actively fight and publicly denounce the jihadist element in his own religion, or simply turn away from it? I see too many Muslims turning away from this violent jihadist element but not outright denouncing it and confonting this fringe element publicly. THIS to me is a tacit acceptance of their (the jihadists'), and would result in guilt by association. The approach is Draconian, but I do believe we are at a point where we as a people must make a choice: do we permit such violence as we have seen on relegious pretexts, or do we aggressively confront these activities wherever they manifest and utterly destroy them for the sake of us all.
maybe they are like in USA, and whenever they try to condemn the violence from those whom are sanctioned by their government and it's supporters or religious leaders, they immediately become the victims.
they have been at this much longer than the USA – maybe they are numb to it
Peteyroo Wow no matter the topic, no matter what the post says, at every real or imagined opportunity you take a jab at those awful Christians.
The author is well meaning but wrong. You cannot ignore the ground swell of Islamic violence, not just against Jews and Christians but against each other as well. How does a level headed Westerner react to what is going on in the middle east? If we back up and put our heads in the sand we will be very sorry! I am a Christian Evangelical, but never have said a hateful word about people who disagree with me. But it truly is SCARY to see how a stupid, moronic movie designed to incite tensions can send many thousands of muslims over the edge. So much so that they through common decency out the window. Show me the mobs of gun toting Christians and Jews gunning down innocent Muslims diplomats. I almost give up on the hope that the Muslim world will survive,
that's because USA and Isreal have nukes, and so do some of them ...
i guess them running around in a hissy fit is better than them having a nuke in their time of rage.
if you were in their shoes, you might be doing the same
you do not know what they have been truly told – and what the real truth is – just like everyone else
why so quick to doom others
this whole thing is a government inspired manipulation to get the masses to vote
...death apparently – if you base it on the ignorance of misinterpreted 'holy books'
so now ... we actually have to vote for it ... seriously?
i say noone vote until 'they' answer all of questions – and quit the double talk
hard to vote for lies
even if the fear 'they' create doesn't manipulate you into voting for 'them',
the unhealthy environment and thus health problems 'they' cause from this manipulation will feed their pockets just as well
just – not as much as the true fear will
take your pick
either way – their there
Ever notice how the ADL whines about hate speech directed at Jews but is always silent and looks the other way when directed at Muslims...lol?
And of course the Muslim Brotherhood decries hate speech toward Isreal! Give me a break. The ADL is a Jewish organization. It's not their job to police the world for hateful comments against all other people. If Isreal feels any more threatened by the frenzied mobs they will have to fix the problem any way they can. They don't need us to silence the mobs.
The end of militant Islam is shown in Daniel 8:17, "the vision is at the time of the end."
It's about a ram with two horns angering a goat that stomps the ram and breaks its horns.
Verse 20 says the horns are the kings of Media and Persia, but if Gabriel is right and it's the time of the end, then the Medes and Persians are now Iraq and Iran. This is half fulfillled - Iran will be stomped. (A little insight from the #1 all-time best-seller)
why should anyone believe that – if it is written in the past – it can be changed in the future – the end times means what – it could mean the end of this sun cycle as the sun moves into Aquarius – which is neither goat nor ram.
it is the water giver – the bearer of life – and the fish
the ram is the time of now – the goat – i don't know – aren't rams like goats – just bigger
I am an American Muslim and I love working with other faith-based communities to deal with the hard problems that mankind is struggling with such as poverty, hunger, etc. I am humbled to see that other faith-based communities have come to the help of Muslims when we need help. Thank you, America. I love you all.
Hate is what evangelicals preach, why would they stop now?
It is what keeps the flock of sheep in line.
Hate, it's whats for dinner in fundie households.......
It's funny how those who support Muslims point out that not all are radical Islamists, but are quick to generalize all evangelicals together.
There are extremist radicals on both sides! True Christians understand that God is love and Christ called all of us to love or brothers as ourselves. The problem right now is there is a dual-standard in tolerance right now. I haven't seen any Christians protesting outside mosques or Arab embassies or consulates and threatening to burn them down or kill anyone.
Bottomline: If your faith teaches tolerance and peace then show it through action, not words! That's how we find true peace among one another. Live by your faith and have mutual respect for the other person's religion, not trying to force your religious belief on others.
All 'christian fundies' serve 'hate for dinner' yet magically no Muslim flew a plane into the Twin Towers, magically all Muslims are exempt from all crimes committed by Muslims going back to Muhammad beheading the Quraysh tribe. The wonders of Liberalism!
I have never heard hate speech in any church. In Christianity hate is a sin, To be unjustly angry with someone is a sin. Now where in the new testament does it say it is ok to hate. IT IS NOT THERE. If some one can post something directly from the new testament that says it is ok I want to see it posted.
If you can not post this and just want to put me down then the point is proven.
To those who insist either you have never read it or your talking is false. I recommend reading it. It could change your life.
I am not sure which is sadder, your erroneous statement or your willingness to believe it.
I read an article on CNN that spoke of "Double-down"
I was interested to see if it spoke more about the fact that we (the people and all that) find ourselves faced with the decision to choose between two opponents – who actually both have two thumbs down from most of us – and how we were to responsibly choose at all – given the choices.
But no – this is what it means:
r. women and children first
us. you mean women and children thrown off the ship first, men get busy fighting the good savior fight, and the captain will remain with the ship till everyone is gone – because – afterall – we did just hit something – and truly – the ocean is not that deep – so we won't really sink – besides – iron ships float – don't you know
r. yes, women and children first – so everyone else left on the ship can vote for me – except for the ones i told not to – because i don't want them to know
us. you suck
r. i know – let us pray – and don't forget to vote
it's a 'special' day for me
so my parental person calls to wish me happy 'special' day
and proceeds to engage in political discussion ...
and I'm not to vote for Obama – cuz he's ruining the country – and just think how things will be under the The Diluted Evil Plan – ie: government controlled health care and death panels – which I truly agree – i mean – why would anybody who knows anything about health care vote for anything remotely reminiscent of the government controlled health care – (think mental defective care)?
that leaves romney – who has set everyone on edge with his 100 percent backing of the 100th percent who thrive monetarily and politically from the great war machine – yeah and hooray!
so – yeah
happy 'special' days to all
... let us pray
It is like your vote is for
a. let us kill you slowly and with deceit and victimization
b. let us get things done quickly – maybe we'll (not you) will survive
that's it in a nutshell
theliberian429 Another tolerant gentle and loving comment.
As far as I can remember, Jesus didn't teach any phobia?
I have never forgot the tv images of tens of thousands of Muslims all over the world cheering when the twin towers came down with 3000 Americans burning to death and the total silence from the supposed moderate Muslims let the chips fall if you are a Muslim we Americans need to be wary of you
I feel that the biblical verse that states works without faith is useless, and faith without works is useless, does have wisdom.
Oh, really? What about evangelophobic islamophiles? Or doesn't it come in that flavor?
That's not Politically Correct!
IIt's Politically Correct to hate Christians, whites, men, Capitalism, and America claiming their is no race (when speaking about whites), there is no ethnicity (when speaking about Europeans), and to say all Christians are evil, backwards, everything-phobes, who planned 9/11.
Liberal Fascism 101: hate, attack, blame, lie, deny
Go take your meds, and call the farm to admit to your escape.
I love and pray for you my friend.
I have a Phd and a BA, that stands for (past having doubt) and (born again). I am in love with a man his name is JESUS CHRIST the son of a living GOD, GOD EMANUEL, GOD with us saved by grace through faith not of works. That's my input to this blog.
You've a good heart and a righteous soul, but you've bought into a warped theology. Don't knock the value of good works.
@Arvoasitis – 'you bought into a warped theology'
But Muslims haven't?
Muslims who follow Muhammad that is a pedophile, rapists, murderer, and warmonger? Magically you cannot say anything bad about Muslims. Magically like Pavlov's Dog you only hear bells ringing about Christians.
I'm also getting sick of the xenophobic rhetoric that has become embedded in the right-wing platform. People need to be open-minded, and think for themselves for goodness sake.
Had this piece been written differently, it could have been helpful. I am afraid it will instead be harmful. No doubt, there are some who use exaggeration or fabrication to get attention and stir emotions. No doubt, there are some who are afraid when they should not be afraid. (I rather doubt this is actually widespread among evangelicals, though.) However, McLaren doesn't distinguish between Islam (the religion) and Muslims (the adherents). The term "Islamophobia" is a slur; it suggests fear of something that shouldn't rationally be feared. Look at the response to the said video. Fairly undeniably, that is the fruit of Islam. Extremist Muslims are not rebuked by Islam rightly understood, but rather encouraged by it. Islam is indeed to be feared. Just look around the world and see what it produces.
McLaren is right in calling us to be truthful, to avoid stereotypes, and to deal charitably with Muslims. However, it is wrong to suggest that Islam is not to be feared. On that point, he is gravely mistaken. I love what Zacharia Botros, an Egyptian Coptic priest said: "As I love Muslims, I hate Islam."
mjbrin lmao The religious right have not been able to shut up about this, I listen to them quite often, although at times I can't stand the dribble. You made the observation that the crowds are mainly men> I would be shocked to see woman participating in these protest considering the culture.
Islamophobia is based in Christian's insecurity about their own belief system, which has no basis in truth or history. In actuality, there is not a shred of evidence that a guy named Jesus lived in history. NONE. Jesus is a mythical "Hero" archetype figure like Zeus, Apollo, and all the other thousands of gods and god-men that humans have created. It's all nonsense...and is nothing more than low IQ and low consciousness fundamentalists afraid of and feeling threatened by other low IQ, low consciousness fundamentalists.
There is historical evidence that Jesus was a real person that walked this earth. Never mind I just read some of your comments< you are not posting to engage in reasonable discussion.
Your complaint is about "Christains" yet you fail to mention the history of Islam and their perpetual war on the west, particularly Israel; who is neither Christain or Islamic! Examine all the facts please!
What if I brought 100 special CNN authors to your house and asked you to happily invite them all in. But the catch is that one of those authors is going to pound your head to a pulp and destroy you and you don't know which one. Would you be so quick to extend your welcoming loving arms? Or would you want to screen them and filter them as thoroughly as possible before you open your door? Meanwhile, the authors stand outside and cry "discrimination, profilers, prejudiced pigs." You can call it islamophobia if you want. If we already know that one of them has kicked our butt when we were looking the other way and holding out our tax dollar hands to the rest of the world, then yeah we should be profiling and discriminating and screening. Don't mistake "We will never forget" for some stupid catch word like "phobia" that is already over abused by some other 3% fringe group in this country. My national security trumps your political correctness every damn day.
The problem is your fear and the paranoia that lives inside your wounded psyche. The Bush administration knew before hand that the radical terrorists were going to attack and did nothing about it. You can't repay fear and hate with more fear and hate. All you do is create more fear and hate in the world. It does not mean that you trust Islamic terrorists or any terrorists for that matter either. Tend to the paranoia and soul poisons within yourself and get rid of it....that is the only solution for each and every one of us. Otherwise you live in delusion and do not grow psychologically or spiritually. Also consider the fact that the USA created the terrorists and funded and supplied Osama Bin Laden during the Russian invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. The USA funneled billions of dollars to Bin Laden to equip him with money and weapons. We created the very thing that many Americans now fear. Take responsibility and lose your blame.
Soundman, let's say you are correct about the 3% in this country that abuse the word "phobia." Should your national security also trump fear mongering from the far "Christian Right" that express their ignorant views of Islam because of the 3% radical element there, that don't even follow the teachings of the Quran? Remember there are about 1.5 Billion Muslims in the world today. 3% would equate to 45 Million. Is it even that high?
Fear mongering from the evangelical right will only make things worse. So why promote such a thing to such a small percentage of others that are not like yourself?
how do you take responsibility for things that happened by your government, that not only harmed others, but your own country people as well.
this is politics you are speaking of, and politics do what politics do, that politic.
i think the USA citizens are just now starting to realize a few truths as they are being revealed.
i can understand your emotions though – to be blamed for things you have no control of though, except to search and understand the truths, and act upon those accordingly – is a bit short sighted to say the least. A lot of people simply do not know the truth – they are manipulated and lied to by the very same governments who manipulate and lie to others. And even if they did know the truth – the truth could be the past – and things could already be changing as the truth was and is revealed and understood – and future plans remain hidden.
Just because people and things aren't perfect, change usually happens, hopefully for the better, although sometimes the better is hard to see, but if there were comparisons, it is easier to see what worse could look like.
it is hard not to be angry and frustrated and need a way to relieve those emotions, especially through speech.
especially, because you know you have no real control of that which you would want to be different, and sometimes you do not even have the freedom to say so out of fear, manipulation, and intimidation of whatever kind and form – including religion – and therefore – find yourself with little or no control over the situation – but vulnerable to blame by association.
again ... all human nature traits sometimes requiring outside education to enlighten, and often tackled in religious, civil rights and judicial issues, degrees, and laws.
it is not about low iq's however – it is about religion and unreasonable expectations, and manipulation and lack of truth and education and opportunity for sustainable futures.
do you have any suggestions on how to enter this world stage – and make a difference for a better way.
the ignorance and manipulation of the same would be easier to stomach if it wasn't affecting so many negatively – because it is becoming much harder to ignore – more aggressive – and is as always – destructive but not construction – and therefore – abhorred.
What if I brought 100 special CNN authors to your house and asked you to happily invite them all in. But the catch is that a few years ago a guy who might or might not have worked for CNN but said he wrote blogs so might be an author, totaly punched you in the face. Would you be so quick to extend your welcoming loving arms? Or would you want to screen them and filter them as thoroughly as possible before you open your door? Or maybe you should have taken some self defense lessons and decided not to be a p u s s y who jumps wth fright every time the doorbell rings, and thinks it's perfectly fine to analy probe any guests coming over for dinner. I don't think your partys would be very popular in your neighborhood...
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