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.
Brian, Brian, Brian. The so called "vicious cycles of offense-outrage-revenge" is not a cycle but a one way street. Name one time a Muslim has public offended Christians and has been killed. It seems that you have erected a straw man argument.
the american consulate was not killed for offending a prophet.
he was a puppet to incite USA rage to support yet another war – of our making
if you were better informed by the media and the government than this would be more clear
unfortunately, they do not care whether you know or not
it is not your choice
you have a vote – who is different?
Major Red Flag – Brian D McLaren is in the Emerging Church Movement
there is plenty of evil in this world epitomized in organizations that have way to much control, will never resolve differences nor harms that they commit, will always disrespect others – even their-selves – and act crazy just to get their dues and paint themselves like fools in order to chaos and disruption to further their causes. They think they can demand respect and authority because they have build delusional fallacies about themselves based upon power and politics and money and religion and education – and have no other opinion but their own – so truly – they never change – and end up in spirals of despair and destruction that they then use to pull everyone else down with them – because misery loves company – and they figure – hey why not – we would like to see what this ride looks like to.
it is sometimes referred to chaos theory in order to manipulate change – and they care not who, what, or how much they harm others – as long as they feel adulated in their weary mirth.
there are those in USA who spread their means of hate and cause mass terror to this and other lands.
they even promote themselves as evil representations.
they are no fun – they are real – and they are evil.
Suggestion, choose a "Champion" from each of the religious faiths. Put them in a confined space with little food or water, the object cooperate in order to survive, the last man standing, takes the whole pizza. Of course, there would be no winner. Religious zealots, only see themselves.
IQhigherthanmybeltsize You seem to very able to understand all the evils done in the name of Christianity but unable to understand the teachings of Christ. Most of the "evil" done in the name of Christianity was justified as a response to evil ( the crusades were responding to 300 years of Jihad) much like the "evil" this country commits today in it's response to Jihad.
I see other posts similar to yours that use the native American thing. That was not done in the name of any religion. To say that requires a big cup of kool -Aid. Those folks did the same as most of if not all of the Indian tribes would have done if they had the power. They were constantly fighting each other for land and everything else.Saying this was done in the name of Christianity is like saying this nation was founded by Christians.... Uh well... on the other hand maybe you have a point.
Why do people say – that's not very christian – when things are done under the robe of government – which is a religion onto itself – so therefore not Christian.
Or you do something someone doesn't approve of (usually self defense or self survival or they are just different or something annoys them for some stupid personal reason only they know) and they say – you are not christian – because you saved yourself or you were yourself.
this is usually said by muslims i think – maybe they are shocked to find that we in USA do not live, breath, and eat Christianity like they do in mideast perhaps? They are also a shame-based society. You are not Christian if you do this or that or don't do something in the right manner or something – and i'm going so the (* what – i mean – seriously – who are they to judge and who cares? God is the final judge and most of us take off our robes after leaving the alter (think choirs), so, this is just ridiculous to live this way i think for anyone. i am glad for the sixties and onward when many of USA became more enlightened and less shackled to the shame of not being perfect for everyone and anyone.
we will eventually probably see a mideast as advanced in time as west at some point. I wonder if they will have to go through something like woodstock to get there?
Who cares what your take is? It's all about YOUR opinion & you didn't quote God's WORD, the bible, once. Your a false teacher.
whats your view of The Project???
...its not just the evanjellyheads. its a large chunk of america. the land of the free and home of the brave? 911 made a bunch of 'em cowards. kind of like how fat pudgy white dudes were afraid of black cats back in the day and to some degree still are. why do you think so many people can't deal with the fact the a brother is in the white house. imagine if he really was an islamist! lol the boogey man is out there! and if he's gonna get ya he will. question is which color will his religion be next time?
Actually, I think the brother in the White House is scared to death of Islam and is the coward not the courageous men and women that joined the military to defend your freedoms from foreign oppressors.
Dowdotica, you are incredibly stupid.
you have a point, Brian. And now is also the time for Islamic fundamentalists Christophobes to choose.
Islamaphobia is fear of Islam. You better have fear of Islam if you are a christian and a hand grenade is rolled into your church. What are you stupid or ignorant or complicit, you pick.
I think this would depend upon what you would be complicit in – like if you threw the grenade – or if you saved yourself and others from the grenade.
to choice between ignorance and stupid ... that is a good question.
ignorance and bliss do go hand in hand to the point where being stupid can get you seriously hurt or killed.
i think it would depend on what you knew and what you needed to know.
you could always remain ignorant of the one gem of truth that alludes you for all your years that is contained within one religion – and that too would be stupid thing to do if one is looking for the good in all things.
I guess this is why so many are ignorant – they do not really know.
the news media over the past few years has not had too much about the war in the papers – and nothing about the religions involved. unless you were exposed to the information – or you took a deeper interest and explored on your own – there would be a lot to be stupid about I guess – except for the part where they are terrorist. I mean – with the bush patriotic act – i think many people simply shied away from exploring the subject deeper – because of the things done during the patriotic act period up until now. I seriously do not think people truly understand what is going on unless you have studied it or had the fortune to be in a group of diverse people who talk about these things so you can understand better.
Why do they hate USA and Christians so much? Was it because of the Isreal thing or expansionism in general?
Is USA and Christian simply a symbol of their perceived rejection – like their prophet is a symbol of their perceived acceptance?
I know, the grenade thing.
I think complicit in saving yourself and others would be better – but of course that statement too has two sides – so if you had no grenades i would choose ignorance. Is that why they do it?
Brian McLaren – “Yes, “they” – the tiny minority of Muslims who turn piety into violence – have big problems of their own.”
If they were truly a “tiny” minority the gargantuan majority would condemn the violence. The condemnation from such a large majority would be overwhelming. If they were such a tiny faction they would not have the overwhelming influence and power they posses today. Let’s be realistic, there is a very large contingency of radical Islamist in the world. Furthermore, many Islamic societies are engaged in Jihad. Their schools teach their children to hate and eliminate the infidels at any cost.
I consider myself a fairly non-political conservative christian. Odd thing about it is this: I rarely know anything about the supposed evangelical leaders that get access to the news media. For instance, Terry Jones is an absolute nobody and there is zero reason such a nobody should ever make the national media. The national media searches out the weirdest things possible calling itself Evangelical and then cons America into believing it represent "evangelical christians," and some of the people who are called evangelical christians are gullible enough to fall for it! All the more reason to turn off the television set as soon as someone starts talking about religion.
I am equally scared of both, though I am more scared of evangelicals honestly. Muslims have a handful of terrorists. Christians have loose canon Republican presidential candidates who could decide to wage war on another country and kill hundreds of thousands. Far scarier if you ask me.
take hammer hit nail on head, very right on
Tell that to our dead Lybian embassador!!!
Has the writer read the koran?
His views are typical of an uninformed lib who wants to make his voice heard?
Yes, JS. I have read the Koran from page one to the bitter end. It is an eye opener and a mind duller if taken to heart. It leads to hate for Jews, Christians, and all that do not accept their god so called "Allah." What makes it especially pernicious is that the message is not couched in history. It is ongoing till the entire world is "converted" to Islam, by consent or by sword, hence the violence we are seeing world wide when their so called "prophet" is demeaned. The problem for us that are not Muslim is not to be Islamophobic, but to be vigilant. And the only way to understand Islam is to READ THEIR KORAN! Then you will understand why it is prudent to be vigilant regarding Islamic aims to take the world by consent if not by brute force.
my impression so far of islam is that it has based the Koran on the bible, etc. in a distorted way – almost like it seriously misinterpreted certain key points – or mistranslated the understanding or teaching into their own.
Like: Christians have spread the gospel and bring the good word of god to all people – missionaries
and Islam has their version of spreading the word of god – but since christians and Islams make up such a large part of the religion base – they both have already achieved this goal.
kinda makes you want to stand up and shout ENOUGH ALREADY – WE GET – ONE GOD – Peace and yeesh.
Then the Jewish have this thing about keeping things within their race (not to mention their religion and their country) – and so do the Islam – they do not welcome other races, religions, or countries very graciously from what i've heard.
note: I have read the bible of the three – not sure I can handle more than that – so probably will not – instinctively i was trying to avoid an experience like the one described above when reading the Koran.
what does it say at the end?
is there an end like revelation?
is there revelations in the Torah?
anyone know what page of the 'story' we are on now???
Why did Romney choose a Catholic running mate? I thought he liked us.
because he was the only christian who would go along with his plan?
i don't know
I think the thing that upsets me the most in this situation is this:
These extremists are manipulated by the governments in order to further the governments interest.
Not the interest of the people.
Not the interest of the religion.
Not the interest of the extremist.
The real enemy is the governments that manipulate the people, whether extremist or not, for their purposes.
I mean – the government does things to the people on a routine basis that actually causes the people to react naturally in ways that will ultimately achieve for the governments what the government want.
so – if the government wants war – the people are manipulated into war.
if the government wants peace – the people are manipulated into peace.
when the government wants sick people – the government will manipulate the people to be sick
when the government thrives off of whatever – it will provide whatever
it is not based on the people – it is based on the governments ... and whatever
if the governments want all the power to do as they please – then they will obtain the power to do as they please
the governments are the less than 1 percent ...
the people are the rest
If you look at the issues realistically – then what the government is trying to say is we are going to do what we want – manipulate the laws like we want – and enforce the laws like we choose.
not by the law (they will change the law if they need to)
not by the people (the people really do not have the power of speech in this country – not in everyday life – not at all – everyone knows THAT – a lot of times they are simply quota – meaning money for the government – for whatever reason they can provoke or make up.
and not by the majority – because they do have the money to back it up
1. Rom ney cannot even get through his nomination to candidacy without wondering if and when he will inflict bodily harm to others to back up his hate speech – and so far he has targeted over half of the world (i do not believe for one moment that he was only targeting 47 percent of USA – the world is too global – he was targeted 47 percent of the world – although the percentage is probably very much bigger).
2. P.B.O. – his policies truly scare me for the people and the world – there is too much not to trust.
Reasons For Hate:
1. If a person calls your president, who represents your religion, a person who backs pedophilia, and discrimination and violence towards groups of people who are protected under hate crimes laws from violence based upon their specific differences – when that is exactly what your president did/does.
2. The president then calls you a stupid female who better shutup – and backs it up with bodily harm in the form of constant and undo bodily stress and illness.
3. The person who called out the president for not holding other people accountable for their obvious hateful transgressions against others is simply stating their views. If it is defamation – someone has to prove that it is not.
4. The president is committing hate crime for causing bodily harm to back his regurgitating and deflected hate.
5. the person cannot get the president to stop harming others or allowing others to harm others ... and is made even more of victim because everyone is thus victimized.
this is how hate is learned by many.
how is hate turned into something positive – understanding – forgiveness – and tending to all the victims – and continually trying to enlighten the president so he/she quits harming others or allowing others to harm the true victims of the true crimes which he tries to double speak and ignore and justify – so it continues and multiplies?
most people do not want things to be this way – and refuse to be drawn into it.
only thing to do is keep the president who allows harm and those who truly harm away from the people.
r. is trying to get people to hate the 47 percent and to vote against them so that they will be more willing to be fooled by his doubletalk (so that he will make it obvious to everyone that he does not really want to win). Then, after getting everyone to start thinking about hating the 47 percent for whatever reasons they come up with to vote against them in the first place – now they will be more willing to go along with death panels and other government inspired hate deaths ... because they have now learned hate – and are still confused how to deal with it.
these guys are masters at manipulation – remember that always
so then – when these ignorant people vote for r. out of fear and misinformation and double-talk – all the people of the world will have a finger to point at the next time they get harmed for being part of the 47 percent – and the president can be impeached for hate crimes – (which – i mean – someone is eventually going to have to take the blame for all this stuff – might as well be the people who caused the harm – not those who were harmed).
if the P.B.O. wins, then all must stand together against the 1 percent that are truly inciting all these hate crimes and violence ... by what they do to achieve their 1 percent – because that is what they do
I wonder if we the people can get r. to kill the Diluted Evil Plan before anyone else get killed?
I mean – if they are typically of the 47 percent who will be subjected to these death panels and other health care atrocities that you know are there now and have not seen any plans to not indicate that any of that will change or get better – or even what the true plans are – because no one knows – because everyone is not mad enough yet – when every one gets mad and goes mad – then it will be easier to make plans – cuz then it will be closer to the end – and then maybe they will be more ready for more of the wars by then – because then they will all be even more mad.
i wonder if wwiii is inevitable?
the super pacs make everyone distrust the government – get rid of them
no more contributions – nor donations beyond a minimal maximum
then we can get an independent back on the part
if an independent were voted in by the majority – they would have to have the support of a diverse group of people to win – therefore they would either be truly enlightened leaders – or truly manipulative
there is truly no way to win with politics unless the victims are not continually victimized
sooner or later – they will rebel
unless that is what poitics wants – rebellion
there truly is no way for 'we the people' to exist – from what i have seen
where in history is there truly a government for the people by the people?
is there one?
Are you kidding me...some of you people including the writer need a huge does of reality.
Christians are easy to bully on. You know, that whole turn the other cheek thing, anger is sin, love thy neighbor stuff. Why don't you go after the Muslim faith. Probably because your scared.
I am just saying.
"Bully on"? Man you are one deluded sheep.
You proved my point. Because I may be a Christian you have found it ok to unkind to me. I love and pray for you my friend.
Hmm, it's funny that someone who clearly states being Christian, just no longer an evangelical Christian would be "bullying on Christians."
Are you claiming that Evangelical Christians are the only legitimate Christians, and to question their behavior is bullying?
If so I'm wondering who the bully is.
to Robert Ruedisueli;
You sound intelligent. If this is the case you know what this is really about. It is an attack on Christianity. This is not the only article. Have you ever noticed that around Easter time every year out come the scandalous articles about the Catholic Church. Happens every year. Whether it Catholics, Mormons, Protestants they are all attacked.
When you attack a particular group because they do not retaliate I have to say that is bullying. It is easy, in fashion, and there are no repercussion.
We constantly hear hate speech & actions from Islam. Why does the author not write an article abut them. Because he may have to fear for his life. Christians are easier targets. And not just by him but the media in general. In a nutshell I have to say this is bullying. They are not brave enough journalists to tackle the real problems.
Iran will have a bomb within one year... their stated, spoken goal is to remove Israel from their land. But Jews, Christians should not express concern, and even "righteous indignation"?
i truly did try to understand this situation that has arisen as a direct result of religion phobia in the world.
and i think it is more than that ... truly.
i think that the problem is mental health that has been eroded due to the environment of ignorance that corrupts the world's peoples today. this is not placing blame or quilt on any one person or thing or religion or nation. it is placing blame and quilt squarely where it belongs – a manipulation of the knowledge and wisdom of mankind for the benefit of a few and their eroded mental health due to the environment as it is ...
rich or poor
all suffer from this and are thus inflicted
I watched the UN general assembly excellencies (leader representative of all member nations) speak at various times – not all of them.
President Obama is typical in USA – get a grip – if people know your feelings will be hurt by something and they are feeling hurt by their feelings as well – the first thing they will probably do to relieve their hurt feelings is try to hurt the other persons feelings back – and this continues until someone laughs or crys or gets a grip (as the saying goes). so – as long as feelings are hurt – then more feelings will be hurt – and eventually someone starts to understand – until either everyone is hurt – or everyone quits hurting other peoples' feelings ... that's all ... just get a f(*(((g grip ... it is the USA way.
Other countries are – don't hurt peoples' religious feelings without mentioning that to react in ways that hurt back are just as insane and ignorant – as hurting peoples' feelings in their first place ...
so ... the ignorance continues
civil rights laws legislate respect for peoples feelings and opportunities and resources based upon differences – even differences in mental capacities, ignorance, and education ...
but ... in the end ... respect cannot be legislated.
otherwise there would be no need for the legislation and for the courts to make people respect other people when they don't.
they may respect the fact that their nonrespect has been legislated – but usually this does not lead to more respect –
only fear of the legislation – unless the legislation actually respects both sides in evaluating situations and reasons for the legislation and the disrespect in the first place.
this administration and others before it seem to disrespect many laws that govern respect for others.
it has been – and still is – the american way.
thus the need for more legislation
because we all figure that people will finally 'get it'
and 'get a grip'
but ... this is slow
and never really seems to work
because civil rights actually goes against people's natural tendencies – to try to legislate respect for other people's natural tendencies – and then not respect the legislation nor the people – leads to more disrespect by the people and the legislation
so really this whole thing is just a way for everyone to say f****k You – in their own way – most peacefully – to whomever and whatever they feel like saying it to – most silently – cuz everyone is still trying to get it and get a grip – peacefully – in their own way
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.