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.
The phobia is the results of Islamic teaching that makes people so full of hate and resentment. There are passages in the Quran that promote violence against the nonbelievers. There are socially unacceptable behaviors like allowing men to have four wives and as many as they can posses! Cutting the hand of thieves! If Islam wants to be accepted in the free world it should rid itself of all these negative ideas!
Dude, do you not realize that all those things are in the bible as well? Do you not realize that in that book, god orders the extermination of whole tribes?
It is apparent that you did not read the Bible since the violence of the old Testament was ended with the death of the Christ.
sptq, the US doesn't use Leviticus as the basis for our laws. If you are a true Muslim, however, you will aspire to live under Shariah, even if you aren't currently able to do so.
Give it a rest, Mullah McLaren. No matter how you try to protect your innocent little jihadists, they're nothing but a pack of murderous butchers.
They are not only murderers, but sodomites as well. Their time in hell will be long.
Religious tolerance is one thing. Baring your neck so that a barbarian can cut it is another. I judge people by their actions, not their thoughts or beliefs. One can believe what you will and I may think you wrong headed, but that's as far as it goes. When it comes to mass murder...terrorism...that's another matter entirely.
The fact that only a few thousands of people...Muslims all, let's not sweep that under the rug...have been participants in the violence of late is neither here nor there. Those that claim they are not representative of the greater Islamic community may be sticking their heads in the sand, not understanding human nature. People, being naturally lazy, are more apt not to act when they know their neighbor is. People also have jobs and families to tend to, so it is those who do not that show up at the gates and burn flags and chant "Death to America". One cannot assume that those who are absent are not in full agreement with what is going on. Some surely will be. Others, not.
I also take offense at the oft-overused term "evangelical". For a man who is accusing us of painting with broad strokes, he's doing a pretty good job of that as well. Evangelical, in it's current usage by liberals and atheists, is basically anyone that actually believes in God...not as some construct to be worshipped because that's what they've always done on Sundays, but people who believe in God no matter what day of the week it is. This guy would paint us as all far-rightists when it fact, most are likely middle of the road to right, but even some left-leaners...and I do mean WAY left socially. The author does us all a disservice by dismissing the actions of murderous terrorists as merely the paranoid rants of the religious right. He comes dangerously close to being an apologist for them, and from that they draw their strength. Sad.
You do exactly what the muslim extremists are doing...your reading of the article conveys more of your beliefs than it does of the author's. You see what you want to see instead of what his words say. An open mind does not go about looking for something to be offended about. This world's problems are exacerbated by the too easily offended.
"You are doing exactly what the Muslim extremists are doing"
LOL! Mr. Venger is voicing an opinion. The Muslim exremists are murdering people. You find those two things equivalent?
Hate is an almost monopolistic property of the Conservatives:
The film needs to be rated 'R' for strong se x u al content
Islam is the only religion these days that condones murder and violence. It is the only religion where fathers kill daughters for honor sake. It is the only religion that encourages its followers to stone adulterers to death. It is the only religion that encourages people to kill kafirs (non-muslims). What is there not to fear about Islam?
I recommend the following 2 links for people who are on the fence. These are lectures given by a Dr Bill Warner. He explains Islam a bit more in depth. They are long but it is worth the time to watch.
A hindu, murderer deserves nothing less than his hinduism, crime, Death. rest of it is your hinduism, denial of truth absolute. There is no other truth but Truth absolute, hindu's, ignorant's deny by their hindu soul, filthy desire, untill it is truth absolute followed by hindu Jew's, filthy self centered and their hindu gentile, criminal slaves, follower's of hindu Mithra ism, pagan savior ism labeled Christianity, world has no chance to see peace, Islam on earth. things will not change until and unless Americans follow truth absolute, unimpeded and dump hindu Judaism, filthy secular ism, For more visit http://www.limitisthetruth.com/blog.html and click on word Choice to open file.
Oh, you betcha! Because the best way to learn about another religion is to get your information from someone who fears and hates it, right?
That is so far from rational, I wonder that no one else seems to notice.
Perhaps it would be better to view a video of a Muslim explaining Islam, its laws and the reasons for them, and its intentions, rather than an American white Christian who just may have an agenda to push?
Relief1954, you should do your own research. Might I suggest you begin with books by Bernard Lewis for an understanding of why Islam is in the state it is today. The writings of Qtub, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood are also instructive.
Lisa, You are mistaken, Christians, who formulated the laws that rule our country, would not flip out and riot if there were no laws. You seem to think that there are no laws ruling the murder of people in Islamist countries. They have laws, and choose to ignore them. Please explain the riots and damage at the American Embassies in Australia and Britian, if it is the law that is keeping people from rioting?
Susie, sweetheart, I hate to tell you this but the so-called "Christians" that formulated the "rules" for our country weren't really religious guys. This country, contrary to evangelical belief, was NOT founded on Christian principles, but on HUMAN principles. Our founding fathers, regardless of your brainwashing, were DEISTS, not Christians.
I hope I haven't just shaken your entire world view with that astonishing info, but Google it... it's true.
I hate to tell you but the vast majority of the men who wrote our laws were committed Christians, only a few, Franklin and Jefferson had any doubts about their faith.
Susie, read an actual history book. You can add Adams and many others. Today, the Founding Fathers would be called Unitarians. They did not accept the divivinty of Jesus. They did not accpet the existence of *miracles* and thought the Bible needed tio be purged of them.
They had little in common with todays crop of fundy-biots.
Perhaps you should read their own writiings because the vast majority did not profess a Unitarian belief system but a total Biblical Christian belief system.
I don't have any interest in starting a religious argument, the atheist agnoistics will say its all religions fault, the religious nuts will say their belief is the right belief, the other belief is the violent one, not mine, not mine. Whatever, anyway, I liked your article McLaren, to often so called Christians will use their faith to spread hate, even when it should be contrary to what they believe, and what the message of Christ is.
""""""The way of Christ is a gentle strength that transcends the vicious cycles of offense-outrage-revenge."""""""""
I liked that saying, it is all about turning the other cheek,something many christians seem to have forgotten.
If you christians don't like what your faith, and it doesn't fit what you want,choose another faith, perhaps the reason you hate so much the Muslims is that you have so much in common, maybe it is their faith you are more comfortable with, as long as you operate from the perspective that their faith is the hateful violent one.
Burnell: Actually in the face of an evil, the true Christian response is to "speak the truth in love," to protect and defend the innocent, and to seek peace through honest discussion and understanding. Christ was gentle with the repentant, not with the self righteous, and as far as I can tell, He basically ignored the political.
Nicely stated Farl..
"...hate the muslims...'
So its the Christians fault. I'm sorry, but have you noticed what's happened the last few days? And the many times before that...?
The more I hear about this so-called Islamophobic (sic) revolution, the more I think of the big lie...Tell it often enough so people actually believe it. Does anyone with half a brain think the average American gives a damn what's going on in the world of Muslim theology. We Americans worry about work, mortgage and car payments, We worry about our kids, their school work, dirty laundry, investments, property taxes, the dentist, college and NFL games. We think about going to the Beach, going hunting or fishing, maybe a
good skiing season or a weekend camping trip. We dwell on child support payments, alimony. payments etc..If we live in this world, this what we think about. Now those without a life, can worry about Muslims and Mexicans and all the stuff the talking heads rant about, but as it my plate is full!!
Tony, you should care about it as its the basis for more than 30 years of global terrorism.
Obey truth absolute foundation of American Consti tution or it will be imposed on Enemies of America under the cover of hindu Christianity racist savior ism justified not by truth absolute by force by followers of truth absolute but hindu Judaism, filthy secularism. There is no other truth but Truth absolute, hindu's, ignorant's deny by their hindu soul, filthy desire, untill it is truth absolute followed by hindu Jew's, filthy self centered and their hindu gentile, criminal slaves, follower's of hindu Mithra ism, pagan savior ism labeled Christianity, world has no chance to see peace, Islam on earth. things will not change until and unless Americans follow truth absolute, unimpeded and dump hindu Judaism, filthy secular ism, For more visit http://www.limitisthetruth.com/blog.html and click on word Choice to open file.
I don't know much about hindusim. I surmise that you are a pakistani muslim who hate all indians and therefore assume that anyone who criticizes you must be a hindu indian. I am an American of European decent.
There is no absolute truth! We are in constant pursuit of truths through science and reason. Religions only provide false truths that are easy to digest for the feeble mind.
Word hindu is based on Latin word hindrance, negativity, HUN, great, Han to be great, hind, to be negative to both of them, hindu, a noun in negativity, hinduism, way of nagativity.
Of course, when you say that, I am intrigued as religious folks are known to lie profusely. So this is what I gather from wikipedia:
The word Hindu is derived (through Persian) from the Sanskrit word Sindhu, the historic local appellation for the Indus River in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent, which is first mentioned in the Rig Veda.
The word Hindu was borrowed into European languages from the Arabic term al-Hind, referring to the land of the people who live across the River Indus, itself from the Persian term Hindū, which refers to all Indians. By the 13th century, Hindustān emerged as a popular alternative name of India, meaning the "land of Hindus".
These kinds of lies and conspiracy theories are rampant in especially islam.
I luv how its Islamaphobia, how bout muslims having a phobia of anything but their own religion, we arent burning their flags,
If anything the muslims have Christianityphobia.
"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"
I see, so all that violence proves that the problem are Christian Evangelicals.....................................
No, but you did an admirable job of totally missing the point of the entire article!
The point was that evangelicals, those who profess to follow Christ's teachings, cannot and should not espouse an irrational fear toward ALL the adherents of another religion. They should rightly condemn the violence committed in the name of religion, but they should NOT treat ALL Muslims with the same hatred and fear.
You are missing Catherine's point. As long as a significant segment of the Islamic community incites and promotes violence, for whatever reason, the Islamaphobia will not only continue, but grow. It seems by the logic of this article, if we stop fearing them and spreading our fear, they will stop being violent? I don't think so. And no, I do not believe it is a majority of muslims, but it is obviously significant enough to continue to result in violence throughout the world.
Brian McLaren is about selling books.He and his publisher have found a profitable niche of selling postmodernfluff to people that will never take a stand on anything. That way they can attack anyone who does and still reach their book-buying audience with his divergent theology and let's-hug-Ahmedinijad nonsense. He's an expert at making money through speeches and books only.
Exactly Scott that is his whole complaint they quite selling his books. " Islamaphobia " I guess I have it but certainly not from watching Evangelical tv shows I think I can watch people who went to work in NYC one day and ended up jumping 100 stories to their Death or watching Americans having their heads cut off or dragged through the streets Dead in some third world country we are trying to help while yelling "God is Great " that's where I get my "Islamaphobia " and I think I'll keep it for awhile.....
Its Sunday morning in small town U.S.A. and your driving thru town and you didn’t realize your brake lights are out. You are pulled over by the city cop. She gives you a warning and not a ticket because?
a. your on your way to Mass
b. your on your way to the lake
c. you’re a woman
d. none of the above
It should be d. This is what makes our legal system one of the best in the world, our secular civil society and rule of law allows every one to be treated equally despite what you believe or don’t believe.
BigSky: Far as I can tell, that's what the Tea Party and evangelicals advocate. And I agree!
The ACLJ that the Egyptian article is linked from, is such a strange ministry. They seem like they are intelligent people being lawyers and congresspeople like Lindsey Graham but then they spew very ignorant things. I am Christian but not like Pat Robertson and a lot of politicians. I am not sure how much they are really listening to the Bible. I encourage people to listen to it on walkmen or in the car on cd with their kids. Too many churchgoers actually don't ever study the Bible outside of the preachers who may have wrong interpretations.
One can't help but wonder whether you are aware of the long-term, irreparable, permanent damage that you are inflicting to the Republican Party.
It is a no brainer:
A KKK or Nazi or hard core racist would never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever get anywhere nearby the Democratic Party (party of Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Gays)
Even if they did, the Democratic Party (party of Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Gays) would never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever accept them.
It is real simple.
Mr. Herrera, you may want to study the history of the Democratic Party. They've put much of that behind them, (like how the majority of Democrats voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act with Al Gore's father leading the filibuster; and lets not forget that Democrats controlled the South during Jim Crow).
It is also quite ignorant to claim that Conservatives or Republicans are supportive of neo-nazis when Nazism is a totalitarian ideology that seeks to control society through larger and more intrusive government, while Conservatives advocate for more limited govt with less power.
You sir are by far very decent for a very enlightening and courageous article.Thank you.
Pathetic article. I am sick to death of people who keep saying it is a "tiny minority" of Muslims who are violent and want jihad. Wake up and look around you. This is no tiny minority, this is millions of people. Look at Egypt, Libya, Iran, Afghanistan,, Iraq, Nigeria(where Christians are constantly being murdered), Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, Mali( where they are destroying Timbuktu), and on and on. Millions involved in global jihad. A "phobia" is an irrational fear. There is nothing irrational about fearing Islamists. Look around you.!!!
Dork. Have you seen MILLIONS in the streets? NO.
This is a religion with almost 2 billion adherents. The number that are perpetrating the violence ARE a minority, whether you wish to indulge in cognitive dissonance or not.
Unless you are committed to fearing EVERY SINGLE ONE of those almost 2 billion people, yes, you are phobic. Your fear IS irrational. You do react like your ancestors with that instinctive 'flight or fight' response because you just haven't evolved far enough to tell the difference. I'm sorry.
I thank the Lord every day that you are a tiny minority else our world would be plunged into everlasting war to satisfy your doomsday fantasy
Pathetic article. I am sick to death of people who keep saying it is a "tiny minority"
It is a tiny minority.
You only hear about the bad guys, so you assume that they are all bad.
They are not the problem, YOU ARE !
Those out on the streets may be a minority, but there are millions more cheering them on. Islam, as practiced by the great majority of its adherents is incompatible with Western values. Funny, however, that you would simply ignore the mob violence, and the cultural and belief system that undergirds it to, and instead, engage in an ad hominem attack. Perhaps could explain why it is that the mobs aren't reflecting a true representation of their beliefs and culture.
And no, as an atheist, I have no 'Christian evangelical leaders' herding me on.
And I quote, "acting as if the kinds of people who host Islamophobic [or Christian, Jew, or American-hating] sentiments swim in a tiny sidestream, not in the mainstream, of our [their] common heritage." Do not apply different measures to different groups. If it's wrong to paint with a broad brush on Muslims, it is also wrong on others.
Farley, in 2009 or so, in a poll, 84% of Egyptians said they were in favor of imposing a death sentence for apostasy. Now, I find that pretty extreme, but it would seem to be within the mainstream in Egypt.
Yes, I've seen some of these e-mails. They are passed from person to person, and accepted as gospel, without any independent thought or research. My guess is that many of these people passing the e-mails have never personally met or talked with a person of the Muslim faith, or didn't realize that they did. It is disturbing in that in today's age, with the availability of information, that people can be so lacking in knowledge of other faiths. What if the phobic "Christians" were to live Christ's love? What if they were to live and conduct themselves in a manner that demonstrates Christ's love in all that they do and say? It truly seems that there is a disconnect between Christ's teachings and how some practice their faith, as though they were two different things.
Jean, why don't you explain to us how it is that the mobs, and the religious leaders that send them into the streets, aren't properly reflective of their faith?
I thought being a follower of Christ (Christian) required behaving in a Christ-like manner, even if the rest of the world and everyone around you goes off the rails. I may be wrong, but show me where the New Testament excuses un-Christian behavior amongst its followers when they feel they have been wronged. I don't see it, but perhaps I have a different version.
Brian wake up! Not buying your propaganda.....no sheep here. And sheep can not herd sheep, fyi Brian.
No, but your Christian evangelical leaders can herd you quite nicely, can't they?
*sigh* Give it up... you ARE phobic. You ARE afraid, deathly afraid, of the almost 2 billion people who espouse the Muslim faith. I can only hope that your end of the gene pool evolves quickly, or that you live intestate.
nkrempa: What I am afraid of is a justified war by muslim nations on us. We have been meddling in their affairs apparently with only the consent of their leaders (or to gain it) and not of the people. My personal innocence is meaningless in the face of what my government has done in my name.
Farleyagain, that is a completely rational fear and, though I hope it's not, appears to be rather justified at the moment. I quite agree that our machinations in the affairs of the Muslim dominated nations is something for concern.
Christians are beheaded by the thousands by Muslims and you dare to equate the two. What a marreeooonnn
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.