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.
Mr. McLaren is a ‘wordsmith’ and therefore knows the emotion is not phobia from the Greek word phobos, but hatred expressed by the Greek word miseo , or by abomination for the Latin words abomino/abominare that properly describes the gradual loathing. And, this is not created by some extrene Christian fundamentalist propaganda but by Muslims themselves who demand they be treated with compassion and equality - unless they have the need to invoke Sharia Law to avoid the consequences of equality and make themselves into super-citizens for protection of their religious bigotry and dubious personal honor.
When a person is afraid of something non-threatening, it's a phobia. When he's afraid of a lethal beast that has repeatedly taken the lives of thousands in the name of their God, then it is not a phobia; itt's the thoughs of a rational man.
explains why they over there have a phobia from the US
Islam is all about killing infidels! Live by the sword (if you convert) and die by tbe sword(if you don't). Islam and moslems have no tolerance! They are violent and nit peaceful!
Micahel, "holy war" and "killing the infidels" were terms coined by the popes and crusades. Muslims never taught or practiced that BS.
I realize why 6 million Jews were killed in WWII. I guess better to be politiclly correct than be worry about being victim of a Holocaust.
Funny how there was no phobia of Islam in the United States until after Muslims started murdering innocent men, women, and children, citizens of the United States of America, within the boarders of the United States of America as well as around the Globe. Why do they murder these innocents, for the crime of being an American. Our culture settles differences of opinion through dialogue and logical argument. The Muslim / Islam culture settles their differences of opinion with violence and murder. In our culture it is not acceptable to murder someone because they "offend" you and we should not make excuses for a culture that thinks this is acceptaable behavior no matter how offended they are feeling. There is a huge difference in speech, and actions. Perhaps there is more to this then "phobia". Perhaps it is based upon the commonsense recognition of an ugly culture and an enemy at the gate.
Okay...so when Muslims go nutsoid and rampage through the streets, we need to have a discussion about how "Islamophobes" need to make a choice? No, you are wrong. Muslims need to make a choice. Join the 21st century, or continue to act like animals. That's the choice.
Islamphobia is real and they fan hate and bigotry. For example, Islamphobes and their media claim that Muslim majority did not condemn the attacks, when they have and the presidents of Lybia and Yeman have called the president to personally apologize. When was the last time the president called them to apologize for US drone bombings that killed civilians?
Ironic, because the Islamphobes and Faux News keep telling us it is media and schools in Muslim countries that teach hate and intolerance and Armgeddon!
Kat- what a naive statement! Haven't you realized by now that muslims and their faith teaches hatred and violence? Have you heard of Madrrasahs? What do you think these are? These are schools that indoctrinate young minds and tells them to hate ALL infidels! Islam is the religion of submission! There is no tolerance!
Micahel, I think you hang out too much in Islamphobes sites. "madrasah" means simply "school" or "college", or "university". Go to the nearist company, hospital or school, odds you will find Muslim doctors, engineers, and professors, often immigrants to continue their education and get their masters and PHD's
Muslims are under attack and discrediting by well organized well financed Islamphobic industry in the US often associated with Zionazi ideology and its consistent war mongering to protect Israel's hegemony. illegal colonization of Palestine, and its racial supremacist apartheid regime.
A greater pile of horse manure has never been uttered!
Wow, looks like a case of Zionaphobia to me...
This author is like all the other non-believers in Christ.He thinks the muslims are being treated wrong.I see a faith that has zero tolerance towards any other faith.If your not muslim your an infidel.Try reading their beliefs and compare them with other beliefs.Then look at whats going on around the world.Need I say anything else.
you're a fine example of what Islamphobic propaganda has done.
All religion is intolerant to a point.
Mclaren...have you, you so-called Chritisan, read Genesis chapters 16 and 25? Do you know what the Bible stated about Ishmael and his descendants (The Arab people) centuries before Jesus' birth? Dont feel bad. Many Christians have no idea. But here it is:
To put it in simple words... the Bible's Old Testament (sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims) has already labeled the father of all Arabs and all his descendants that they will forever be hostile toward one another. The fact is, Arabs are destined to be hostile people. I didnt say it, God of the Bible did. Read Genesis chapter 16 about the story of Ishmael (the father of the Arabs people) and read Genesis chapter 25 verses 12 through 18. if you believe in the teachings of the Bible, then the Arabs and their doctrine is destined to be a product of hostility.
Fact: The Bible reads that Jews are to be blessed or those that dont willbe cursed. Fact: The Arabs were people who tolerated Jews and Christians between 600's through 1500's. Fact: it is during that time period that they prospered and became great empires. Fact: Once they began to feel less tolerance for Jews and Christians their empires began to crumble even today. Overall? bless the Jews even if they are jerks to you. And follow Jesus because without him no one is safe. Still, I believe there are great Muslims out there that deserve great credit. Problem? They are too afraid to speak out because of the hostile Muslims ready to attack moderate Muslims, Jews, or Christians.
Below see what the Bible stated centuries before the birth of Jesus...It is, at best, a living prophecy that Ishmael's descendants would be wild rebellious people with no control of their temper fighting against each other and the world.
Genesis 16: 7-15 (Birth of Ishmael: Father of all Arabs)
7 The angel of the Lord found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. 8 The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
“I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,” she replied.
9 The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.” 10 Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.”
11 And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the Lord has heard your cry of distress. 12 This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.”
13 Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.”[a] She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” 14 So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi (which means “well of the Living One who sees me”). It can still be found between Kadesh and Bered.
15 So Hagar gave Abram a son, and Abram named him Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Ishmael was born.
Genesis 25 12-18
Ishmael’s Descendants (The Arabs)
"12 This is the account of the family of Ishmael, the son of Abraham through Hagar, Sarah’s Egyptian servant. 13 Here is a list, by their names and clans, of Ishmael’s descendants: The oldest was Nebaioth, followed by Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, 14 Mishma, Dumah, Massa, 15 Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. 16 These twelve sons of Ishmael became the founders of twelve tribes named after them, listed according to the places they settled and camped. 17 Ishmael lived for 137 years. Then he breathed his last and joined his ancestors in death. 18 Ishmael’s descendants occupied the region from Havilah to Shur, which is east of Egypt in the direction of Asshur. There they lived in open hostility toward all their relatives.[a]
Thank you for sharing with us the racial supremacism in the religious background of the Islamphobes....but here is what I observe, when Arabs became Muslims, God has given them ALL the promised land to Abraham from the Nile to the Euphrate rivers for the past 1500 years. Jews have never been able to rule those lands, ever. So the promise was fulfilled with children of Ishmael. Moreover, it is Jews that have faced persecution in virtually every nation that has ever hosted them, whereas Arabic culture and language through Islam spread to every nation, race, and ethnicity on earth.
True, the Jews have faced persecution over and over. Assyrians, Babylon, Nazis, Arabs, etc...the difference? They are still a people, with a land, a nation, and a promise fulfilled that they will return. And endure. But note one thing...every nation that raises tehir hand against the Jews has and will suffer greatly. The German nation is the only nation that has formally apologized to the Jews for what the did to them in the Holocaust. I believe, because of that, they are a blessed nation today. And that is why the United States is so blessed. We were the only nation opening our arms to them while being persecuted by the Russians during the late 1800's and early 1900's. Ask how the Romanov Dynasty of Russia ended up aftertheir government sponsored attackes on Jews...The Romanov Dynasty of Russia was annihilated followed by Satlin's brutal regime for decades to come. All I am saying is when you curse the Jewish people, you will be cursed. And history has proven that. And although Israel is not at peace, they have endured... BTW, God also has no peace because of the world we live in. Israrel, is at best, a living reflection of God's existence and prophecies
Both of you sound ridiculous. Quoting the bible proves nothing. Citing curses is laughable. People are capable of both good and bad. Religion only serves to amplify both ends of the spectrum.
I don't view the situation like you do. You must have missed God's memo through Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 18: "Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it."
If Christian's end up acting abusively and mean, though claiming the name of Christ, but Muslim, without claiming the name of Christ, do and think like Christ and show mercy and justice to others, we can expect Jeremiah 18 to be fulfilled.
My main problem with the article is that it isn't balanced in its critique. He calls the Muslim media "irresponsible" for spreading hate and Christian media "Islamophobic." He calls Muslim extremists a "minority" but Christian conservative extremists the "mainstream."
In typical self-flagellating fashion, he criticizes Americans for being full of hate while basically calling the hate-filled Muslim response "unfortunate."
McLaren can't have it both ways. Either he needs to toughen up on the Muslim world or he needs to ease up on evangelicals. But condemning hate coming from one group while making excuses for it in another group is hypocrisy.
You write about " . . . the tiny minority of Muslims who turn piety into violence . . . " and you are, of course, correct that most Muslims are not to be feared.
I must say, however, that even though they are a minority, they are the intimidators and terrorizers who make the big news.
They are also those with mid-east national and international political power, and it's impossible to forget that it is an irrational minority of Islam which makes them possible.
It is long past time for the Muslim majority moderates to come out in full force to condemn the actions of this minority.
I hate how Islamic violence provokes a liberal debate regarding the provocation as opposed to the inappropriateness of violent response to speech. There will always be fascists, bigots and generally hateful and disgusting behavior. The recent violence is an attempt to limit speech through intimidation. The author of this article (and CNN for promoting it) gives into this intimidation all too readily. We should remember that protection of the minority voice, not matter how much we disagree, is what makes us unique. Mr. McLaren should ask himself why there was no such debate about this movie prior to the violence. It was prompted by the violence. They certainly achieved their goal.
McLaren is so WRONG! Islam is intolerant of all nfidels (i.e., Christians, Jews, and everyone else). America and Christians are tolerant, yet we are not blind to the reality that Islam preaches and encourages intolerance, hatred, and violence. All these demonstrations, burning, and killing over a little, silly, badly shot clip of a movie proves the point that Islam and Moslems (not all, but large enough numbers) are full of hatred and violence! They are irrational and backwards! Islam (literarly means submission) is about submission, and it was spread by the sword. Muslims in America are here to escape the misreable conditions in Islamic countries, but make no mistake, they have every intention to dominate this country and would love nothing more than to turn this country into an islamic country. If you think otherwise, you must be burrying your head in the sand, just like an ostrich!
Wow, your post proves the authors point. There are over a billion Muslims, if they were all violent, or even half, don't you think there would be far more problems?
You just proved my point! You are burying your head in the sand! Look at all trouble spots in the world! Pakistan, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Iran, Egypt, all of the Middle East, Yemen, and the list goes on!!! Wake up and smell the coffee!!!
Would it be any different if Christians and Muslims prayed to different deities?
With the common roots of Judaism, Christianity and Islam going back to the Prophet Abraham, and the name of Jesus mentioned in the Koran more than any other person, one would think that the religions could coexist better.
Muslims seem very defensive about Islam, as though they are fearful that, if they do not defend it so radically, it would somehow suffer in stature. They are fearful without basis.
George, read your history. What led to the Crusades? Ever hear of the Barbary pirates? The invasion of Islam into Europe?
But even if all that you claim is true, the Crusades ended more than 800 years ago. If present day Muslims have to refer to that to excuse their actions, we have an anger issue I fear. If people in the South suddenly blew up a place in the north because they were mad about the loss of the Civil War, wouldn't that be irrational?
Get real. And as to the grass is always greener, that's a silly statement. How many evangelicals of TODAY or in the LAST 100 years committed the kind of atrocities in the name of their faith that muslims have?
Ever heard of the IRA?
Ever heard of the KKK?
How about all the Christians who helped the Nazis murder millions, where do you think the antisemitism started in Europe?
Add 50 years and count all the Native Americans killed by Christians, the people tortured or killed in Africa from Christian colonialism.
How about add another 100 years to that an add the thousands or even millions of people dead and enslaved by Christians.
Stop pretending Christians are so innocent and peaceful. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims were killed in Iraq by an army made up mostly of Christians.
Apparently – this is more of "Forgetting" that Christians do.
January 1, 2012 Bobby Joe Rogers, 41, firebombed the American Family Planning Clinic in Pensacola, Florida
April 1st, 2012 – Francis Grady Firebombs an abortion clinic because of religious beliefs.
How is that – that is just this year. But Christians are Enlightened and would never do anything in the name of religion
People will always infiltrate true Christian doctrine with their own political ambitions. There is nothing on the KKK, Nazi regime, or IRA that could challenge a person that trully knows the Bible's doctrine. Fact: Hitler was planning on targeting Christians who refused to accept the concept of killing off the mentaly ill, and challenging hsi regime...ultimately, the Nazis were brain washed to think they were serving God while stupidly saying that they served the Furer. The Bible is a great tool to twist the minds of the ignorant until people educate themselves. Fact: the KKK hated immigrants and Blacks. The Bible is a great tool to get ignorants to follow you for political purposes....Just like the Republican party is doing today.
Islamaphobia? Do you think the story about the young Down syndrome child in Pakistan might want to be driving Islamaphobia. This is a cheap wedge this clown of a writer is attempting to drive between Evangelicals and mainstream America. Allah achbar!
How did Rosa Hernandez from the Dominican Republic feel? Sure, she sinned by having gotten pregnant out of wedlock. But should she have died because the countries' law (which was based on Religious views) prevented her from having an abortion in order to proceed with chemotherapy? Instead, both her and the fetus perished. Who knows, maybe she would have taken the experience as a sign from God and devoted her life to caring for those less fortunate. Perhaps she would have gone on to become another Mother Teresa.
But no – she is dead. Because God says abortion is wrong. Not the wisdom and free will that God supposedly gave us to make decisions.
Better question. How does the Qu'ran reference Jesus when it was written centuries before he was even born?
McLaren is so WRONG! Islam is intolerant of ALL infidels (i.e., Christians, Jews, and everyone else). America and Christians are tolerant, yet we are not blind to the reality that Islam preaches and encourages intolerance, hatred, and violence. All these demonstrations, burning, and killing over a little, silly, badly shot clip of a movie proves the point that Islam and Moslems (not all, but large enough numbers) are full of hatred and violence! They are irrational and backwards! Islam (literarly means submission) is about submission, and it was spread by the sword. Muslims in America are here to escape the misreable conditions in Islamic countries, but make no mistake, they have every intention to dominate this country and would love nothing more than to turn this country into an islamic country. If you think otherwise, you must be burrying your head in the sand, just like an ostrich!
I agree with everything you said except the opposite of it.
America and Christians are tolerant? Did you watch the Republican convention?
Danny you are wrong, wrong, wrong! I feel sorry for you that you do not know the real truth about Islam....where do you get your facts from? From the American media? Just like the majority of ignorant Americans, that's why Islamophobia will never end....because there will always be the enemies of Islam which are not just the disbelievers who hate Muslims for what they see a minority of hypocrites who commit atrocities in the name of Islam....and those are indeed the worst enemies of Islam because of how they are damaging the image of true Islam....and the ignorant like you take all of it in.
It was not always so. The rule of the Moors in Spain was benevolent, the Moors protecting Jews and Christians and their places of worship. The view at that time was closer to the origins of the religions being common, of the God of each being the same.
Today, we have American Army generals in uniform standing up in church and putting their complete lack of knowledge before the public by saying that their God was more powerful than that of Muslims, ignorant of the fact that the religions honor the same God, the one of the Prophet Abraham.
What we are seeing in today's militant Muslims is a false front, like the paid rioters in Libya. The Muslims who riot and kill are doing so not by not being true to their religion, not being true to the Koran in taking the lives of innocents. Those are false to Islam.
What is your view on other religions? Their relationships to God? Their relationships to one another?
All I can say,,,and have ever said,,, If you are a Muslim,,or a Christian,,or a Jew, THEN PROVE IT,,,live what you say you believe instead of just apologizing that you've failed somehow and that you are "trying" to be better. If it's too hard to be a Christian then you shouldn't call yourself a Christian,,,just call yourself a wannabe because that's all you really are ...
Islamometus = the RATIONAL fear of Islam.
FVCK ALL MUSLIMS !
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