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.”
CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
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.
Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter
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.
Typical of CNN... chugging along on the train of political correctness. If China started attacking US bases abroad, would you call angry American citizens Chinaophobics? Christians are united worldwide in their belief in Christ, an attack on a Christian in Saudi Arabia is the same as an attack on Christian in the US. Muslims are killing Christians, burn churches and mistreating women world-wide… and now Christians are speaking up about the problem. There is anger in their voices because the mainstream media refuses to report the facts due to the “sensibilities” of the Muslims.
When will folks learn the difference between a news article and an opinion piece ?
There is no "God" of any sort. Never has been. "Gods" have all been made up by man trying to control the masses. Period. All religious fanatics are dangerous. The only "God" in reality is this (once beautiful) earth. If the deluded religious people of the world spent 1/10th of the energy on saving our planet that they spend on hate, we might actually have a chance to have healthy grandchildren someday.
Religion Folly: Explain the incorruptibles. Explain Stigmatas. Explain how the diversity of life on earth and the perfection of the laws of science are a statistical impossibility. I'm assuming you're of the opionion that we're all just electric meat... so why do you care about anything?
Why does one have to believe in a false god to "care about anything"? That is part of what makes you look crazy. You all say you are about God, love, light and if you don't, you have no reason to care about anything? Oh...and explain a magician making an elephant disappear. Stigmata would be much easier to do...
Everyone should speak aobut the problems. Which mainstream media are you talking about? CNN, Fox, BBC? I read these and several others and they are filled to the brim with "facts" and lies about these problems that you talk about. Every SINGLE day! Did I miss out on something? or unless you are reading something else.
why are we hiding behind our "formed" opinions? Yes, someone was downright unjust to a woman in Afghanistan. Why dont we draw parallels, for a change, to similar cases from other faiths? Do that, and I promise you, that if you are a sincere person, you will stop right there and re-evaluate yourself.
Here is are a few extreme examples: Pagans (christians/jews/etc) used to bury their daughters alive. Per the Hindu religion in India, a woman whose husband dies is thrown in the funeral fire cuz she has no "right" to live! The Supreme court in India had to step in to abolish such in-human practice! In 2-3 faiths in India that I know of, womens heads are shaved and they are stripped or ALL ornaments and made to wear a plain white cloth for the REST of their lives once they are widowed.
Why dont we lash out against these? Humanity has shown us from time immemorial, MOST of the time, it is our ignorance that causes us to react the way we do. I may curse a person driving a car harshly on the road, however if I would have known that he was just trying to get his ailing mother to the hospital to save her life....my feelings would be completely different.
It is time for the main stream media to stop blaming everyone but the Islamist for them killing folks. The movie did not kill anyone, it may be in bad taste but it is free speech. Christians did not kill anyone over "The Life of Brian", Mormons have not killed over the broad way play "Book of Mormons". . .. no only one religion seems to overreact and kill folks that disagree with it these days. . . I have tried to support the moderates in the Islamic world but until they come out against this and join us in trying to stop it I have a hard time finding Islam the religion of peace.
They are just a few hundred years behind us, but with better weapons.
I agree with you JD, 100% percent. NO violence is justified. But let not the mistakes of a few blame the entire faith. Others could do the same with literally EVERY SINGLE FAITH on the face of this earth.
Lets ask this question to ourselves, how often do you see some Muslim doing that to other faiths? Seek a sincere answer and you will realise what I am talking about. I swear to God, if people could just take few minutes of their time to go to a Mosque and talk to some Muslims and understand what they read, you will realise, there is NOT AN IOTA of hate, let alone violence, that is spoken and/or taught in this religion.
Libs and their strawmen!
Until mankind can rid itself of the John Hagges and Michele Bachmans on the "Christian side", Radical Mullahs on the "Islamic side", Rabid Rabbis and Netanyahus on the "Judaism" side, we will all be continually facing the extinction of humanity all in the name of the particular "GAWD" these ignorant hate-mongers worship.
Don't get rid of the people .. get rid of the cause .. religions!
Love your enemy. Do good to those that persecute you.
Treat others how you would want to be treated.
And if atheists had gods, their gods would be mirror images of themselves...
Nonsense. There is no comparison. Your "argument" holds no water.
Bulldog2012 .. lol that would be called abrahamic religion .. the anthropomorphized diety know as God.
For all of you wondering, yes...Dale played the role of the soup nazi on Seinfeld a few years back...no soup for you!...one year...no talk!!!
Hey horse god guy (I'll call you pale-rider (pardon the Book of Revelation insinuation if that brings offence))...what if....if...if...god did the stuff the bible talks about...but people over several thousand years made the actual story of god's creation more cartoonish or anthopromorphized...would that necessarily remove the truth element relating to god's existence, creative act(s), love for his creations, etc? Might even be cause for a new, updated testament addressing some of those questions, and a strong clarification as per a simple path to eternal life.
So let me make sure we are all on the same page.
It is OK to ridicule the Muslims on every nook and corner, their One God, their most revered perosnality, pick our verses out of context from their holy book, do state sponsored terrorism, wipe-out entire communities and towns via "ethnic cleansing" (and we dont even have the guts to call it "Muslim cleansing"), butcher their week old babies and defile their pregnant women, burn their houses of worship, label them as terrorist most-of-the-time without proof ..etc etc etc
.....and keep doing this over and over and over and over again, not for few months or years, but centuries and centuries together ?
Yet, any reaction from them (Muslims) is view as "extermism" ?
Do we even ponder on our thoughts ? So, really....are THEY the extremist or is it we ?
Yes, it is called free speech. I don't agree with doing it, but no one but the Islamic Radicals are killing anyone over movies and cartoons. . . .stop making excuses for them
If they had a reaction other tha calling for the death of the offender, I might not call the reaction extreme
If this is the best response the Muslim community can muster then the religion really is exposed for what it is, just another excuse to control people and kill others. The next great human epiphany will be the realization that religion is bunk.
every word you wrote, is a testimonial to the point of this article. There are and there always will be extremists in every religiion. We need to be rational and condemn the individuals, not the religion. someone on this blog mentioned that viewing the Taliban like the KKK is a useful analogy. I totally agree with that. By not standing up and speaking out for ratilonal behavior, we help foster a climate of islamophobia. There is a store front mosque a tiny one, at the end of my street and I applaud it's existence. I myself am an agnostic, so I have no bone in this religious war... and hope to all that is Holy that it never comes to an all out war.
Bit of history… Every Crusade was in direct response to an attack on Christians in the holy land, usually Muslims. Pilgrimages to Mecca occurred before Islam existed, Islam conquered the city. The presence of Jews and Christians far predate the presence of any Muslims in the Middle East. I know Muslims, and they are very nice, but to paint Muslims as victims is hogwash.
JD: see, thats the thing. what you define as "free speech" is actually the mercialess and mass torture and killings of the Muslims for ages and ages....so NO, its NOT called Free Speech. Lets talk apples to apples, shall we. and NO, it is NEVER EVER an excuse for ANYONE for that matter to do ANY violence. Pardon my CAPITALS, but I want to convey this strongly. Islam VERY CLEARLY prohibits ANY violence against ANYONE, not with actions or words. In fact, one of the teachings say, "if you have an option of helping save a life (NOTE: doesnt say a "Muslim" life, ANY life) and stopping someone from damaging the Holiest of Islamic Shrines, the Ka'ba, then save the life!
Now does that sound violent to you? of-course its another story that mis-creants ignore this and continue to create violence. But then, its not really the religion or ideology to blame...rather its the person. is it not?
Islam teaches us that the BEST way to lead a life is "do good to someone who has done harm to you, be nice to those who have oppressed you, help those who have denied help to you"....and yet, Islam is a violent religion?
Brigance: Read above note as well. I re-read my article. It no way supports the violence committed by a few. It is just talking about how people conveniently forget the atrocities they commit and any retaliation is viewed as extremism. Is this just? You want to poke another person and keep doing it and expect them to just bear everything without a word or reaction?
There is nothing anyone can do about ignorant comments. There will be such people in all faiths across the world. If you have a doubt, I request you to research it with a few learned people and then form your opinion. May God guide humanity to the right path.
I thank you all for viewing my note and taking the time to respond. My sincere apologies if I hurt anyone intentionally or un-intentionally in my responses. I try to be perfect, but I am not.
I agree with much of what Brian has to say here, don't forget the KKK claims to be Christians too. KKK members regularly run for office in America.
Look at the Taliban as we look at the KKK.
Now lets talk about another issue brought up by Brian he said, "Many Christian bookstores that (used to) sell my books,"
There is a good reason for this. Brian says some really good things in his books and then he says outright heresy and false teachings about Jesus.
I pray for you Brian. As a long term Youth Pastor I use to use much of you material for youth ministry.
Brian please come back to Orthodox Christianity. Talk to men like Tony Campolo, who have walked the path you are walking. We need your voice within the church, not outside of it.
Big difference, the KKK is seen as bad by most, is not supported by the moderates here, and moderate Christians work against it. Moderate Muslims are not stepping up to stop the radicals.
Why did you Zionists that control CNN not mention the episode of Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm, in which he urinates on a picture of Jesus Christ, to then have a woman mistake the urine for tears. This was his idea of "comedy." CNN didn't seem to "sensitive" to that issue.
I love the hypocrisy of CNN, pretending to care about Muslims, while promoting (24/7) the invasion and slaughter of Muslims in their own countries.
It's becoming apparent that you people are trying to instigate a war between Christians and Muslims.
It's an editorial His opinion is not the "official" CNN position. Learn the difference. And the show you mentioned is tasteless dreck that nobody watches anyway.
I think this is naivety Brian. The article is is also exhibiting an underlying Christianophobia. Jesus did say be wise as serpents but harmless as doves because we are sheep in the midst of wolves. It is foolish to put blinders on in the face of real threats for the sake of left liberal political morals and manners. I prefer leaders who do not not have blinders on. I feel way more secure and can sleep at night. This administration I am afraid of.
The leaders of the free world should memorize the quote from Winston Churchill. Our leaders should shut ISLAM down NOW but they all sell us out to Political Correctness which will leave the PEOPLE to end up fighting ISLAM in the end.
"Still, if you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than live as slaves."
If only you could see through the fog of your fear and realize that the evangelical crazies that spread hate for islam are doing the same thing that the islamic extremists are doing to their followers. You should meet and talk to a muslim. They are not all the evil terrorists and rioters that you see in the media.
I believe in religious freedom. However, this last week has TOTALLY turned me against Muslims/Islam. If followers were incited by a movie trailer that makes no sense and is obvious garbage, they are looking for any excuse to be thugs and lawless. What prophet would want his followers to act like that? I went from no feelings about Muslins, to puzzlement on 9/11. This past week has turned me to disgust about Muslims. It is obvious they are interested in being thugs - not being pious and reverent to God. May God destroy them!
You don't seem to get that they are the equivalent of the Xtian wing nuts like that creep in Florida burning Korans and the monster who pickets funerals. There are radicals in every religion and I posit that the Xtian radicals in the US are every bit as dangerous, if not more so, as those in the ME. Xtians purposely try to inflame, constantly throwing more fuel on the fire. Follow the $$$ on this film. I'll bet it traces back to some wing nut, or some tool being used by Rovesputin & Co.
Jesus would have shown them kindness by not taunting their Prophet with obscene and ridiculous films and by burning their holy books (as done by so-called pastor Terry Jones).
You want God to destroy them! How charming!
I am Brian McLaren. Summary of my article – I suc/k Muslim A$$ big time. Thanks for reading.
I know my fellow Evangelicals would agree that we will continue to be vigilant at identifying threats from Islam physically, legally and socially in a non-fearful practicable way. The timing of this article is interesting. Evangelicals did not order the Muslims to freak out and lose control of themselves. We evangelicals did not hold it against the Jews when one created the Last Temptation of Christ movie and start going to the streets in an anti-Semitic rage even though we were offended. Yet we still support Israel. Google Evangelical support for Israel. We separate a single Jewish action from the whole. We understand the goal of Islam and are not asleep. Those that are asleep think people that are alert are paranoid.
Just like most of the rioting Muslims have not seen the trailer in question, it is clear you've never seen Last Temptation of Christ. It was a very good movie.
I agree and would go further. Evangelicals are much more dangerous than Muslims to Americans. They are vicious. I suggest watching "Jesus Camp". These people are downright scary. They are raising their children to wage war on anyone who does not believe as they do. Sounds like those they whinge loudest about, doesn't it? But their "leaders" have them SO brainwashed, they are incapable of the reasoning needed to see it.
Michelle Obama I assume...sorry...your nametag was partially hidden under your hijab...
And how many "wars" have the Christian "fanatics" started recently? Oh......thought so.................that would be none.
Ah, your one of those open-minded liberal Athiests that wants to see Christians lined up in gas chambers as Auschwitz. My aren't you advanced. Hitler re-born I'd say.
Did I miss radical Christians flying planes into buildings here or overseas? Oh..thought so...............
They dont need to rand. Other groups/governments/people are doing it for them. They just have to sit and watch.
Bulldog and Rand you are quite a pair of dolts, aren't you? Bush said he was told by God to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. Google it yourself. If that's not an example of a religious nut causing violence, there there are no examples to be had.
JAYNE...sorry...you misdiagnosed me...I'm a Christian for sure, but I think left and right distinctions have been morphed into a ploy get those of us comprising the unwashed masses to chase our tails and bark and at unseen strangers on the other side of the fence. The real distinction is top vs. bottom (top folks know who they are, and bottom comproses the rest of us) I don't draw any more distinction between Obama and Bush or Romney. Global elites have been working on one-world government for decades (perhaps centuries), 911 was the public kick-off perpetrated by our government for a myriad of interlocking reasons, and the global economic collapse that's coming is as engineered a calamity as Pearl Harbor, the Gulf of Tonkin incident, Desert Shield/Storm, Iraq II/Afghanistan, and the coming Tigris/Euphrates war that will kick off in the next month or so with Israel striking Iran...Bush's god may very well have told him to attack Iraq, but his god is not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob...
I am not an Evangelical...I am not religious at all..I don't go to any church. Islamophobia seems quite reasonable to me. They have earned the fear of them and the reactions that could take place.
There is no "God" of any sort. Never has been. "Gods" have all been made up by man trying to control the masses. Period. All religious fanatics are dangerous. The only "God" in reality is this (once beautiful) earth. If the deluded religious people of the world spent 1/10th of the energy on saving our planet that they spend on hate, we might actually have a chance to have healthy grandchildren some day.
The California media routinely rolls out a video that is anti-religion. They bully their favorite targets: Christians, Baptists, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, .... The US media doesn't care; they do their hate speech to make money. Now an anti-Musilm film comes out and murder results. Who do I blame? THE US MEDIA! The US media glorifies the hate speech with sensational reports and free advertising. Why aren't the bullies just ignored? Why are news journalists and integral part of the hate speech? It is disgusting! Journalism is now truth terrorism.
I can;t even bring myself to read the article, Hundreds of thousands of Muslims area burning flags, embassies, any WEstern symbols, and 4 Amaericans are dead, and he writes about the rise of Christian Islamophobia???!!!!!!! Once again liberals and CNN spit in the eye of America and Americans.
I have heard no reports that the creator of this film was an evangelical christian. This should be substantiated prior to writing an opinion column based on this information.
Does it really matter if he is? Are you denying the existence of islamophobic evangelicals? The author clearly states that he has personally encountered islamophobia within evangelical circles? A brief perusal of this comment thread also proves the existence of the problem. So what's your point? If this film's production was the impetus for the author to perform self-examination and recognize the plank in his own eye, then thhe fact that the producers may or may not be evangelical is immaterial.
Isalm must also own to its anti-everyone else hystria. Christians and othe religious minorities have been fleeing majority Muslim countries for decades. Ironically, they have felt safe only with benign dictatorships. Religious minorities are oppressed, harrassed, threatened, beaten, jailed, murdered, on a regular basis in the Islamic world. the film is small potatoes compared to what Muslims meet out to non-Muslims on a daily basis.
what is it that they meet out to non-muslims Greg. Why dont you put that together, BUT at the same time, do the research on other side as well, where Muslims are butchered. Yet, the slightest reaction from them is not digested by us!
Well if STARS convert I guess it must be right .. such a good point. Maybe we should all convert to scientology too then! Best solution .. eliminate religion althogether, starting with the violent ones!
It's as if, people have suddenly come to realize that there are other faiths in the world of any faith can misuse and abuse the faith for their own selfish or misguided plans and then the reaction is to blame the faith and not the people who are the problem.
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.