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.
I wish CNN would put the same energy into one story about the way Christians are REALLY mistreated and abused in Muslim countries. Do a google search; it's rather shocking what's going on. Meantime, they attack us, and get the positive press…here.
there is a lot of BS in the internet, make sure your sources are reliable, not Islamphobic war mongers'. I have yet to hear about a Muslim insulting Jesus or Moses in anyway, or burn Bibles, or discriminate against them in employment, or attack/burn/graffiti their churches and graves. Have you?
Jon, I worked in Saudi Arabia for several years at the King Abdula University for Science and Technology. While I was not allowed a bible, which wasn't a problem for me because I'm an atheist, I was welcomed as a "Christian" and often had some pretty interesting conversations with Muslim clerics about the two faiths. Though I am an atheist, I have an extensive knowledge of the bible, to answer your next question.
This is the irrelevant Brian McLaren trying to be relevant again. CNN found their man. Personally, I think McLaren is still bitter at evangelical Christians for deeming him on the fringes with his ever-emerging theology. That's probably why he did this hit-piece for CNN. He's trying to pose as an evangelical Christian and speak on behalf of other evangelical Christians. CNN loves to get these fringe guys and have them post as evangelical Christians.
David you are just mad because one of the "flock" is coming out and admiting to some of the nonsense evangelicals spout.
This sheep (Brian McLaren) likes to wander afar from the flock so I don't know what you mean by that. He is hardly a representative of evangelical Christianity. That would be like me saying to you Bill O'Reilly represents the moderate perspective on Fox News.
Hitler was not an atheist, religious people love spreading that rumour. And care to give any examples that were not of totalitarian rule? Bad things have been committed in the name of religion, not atheism.
In a modern society atheism rules, as atheists are not bound by ancient wisdom of ignorance past.
Thousands of priests died with the jews. Hitler hated the Catholic Church…hated it.
The reason people think that Hilter was an atheist is because the religious Right has been his best PR group in that regard. IF anyone has read anything Hitler wrote, both before he took power (while in prison) or afterwards, they can see that he regards his faith very highly. He was a catholic.
I agree that the nations with the highest number of atheists/agnostics have a higher rate of education, lower taxes, lower crime rate, better health care, etc.
Jon, the Catholic Church worked very closely with Hitler throughout the war. It is widely known that the Catholic Church benefitted greatly during those times. I encourage you to read more than propoganda written by christians who want to show Hitler as an atheist.
Atheists are just as bad as the rest of those who claim to know anything. Agnostics are the only true holders of wisdom. We don't know and we don't care. And it doesn't matter.
AND, Butch, let's not forget that at least ONE agnostic is so VERY humble, right?
The merits of humility is an entirely different argument.
Is that Humility, Butch, or the ability to formulate reasonable and rational/legal thinking.
If you have ever studied the Koran and studied the Bible you will see that to make war on "infidels" is called for in the Koran and to "love those who persecute you" is called for in the Bible. The two faiths are diametrically opposed. One says love your neighbor and love God and the other says serve Allah and kill any who do not believe in him. The only people who would defend a religion that is (today, not hundreds of years ago "crusaders") killing people who oppose their beliefs as mandated by their "holy" book are those who cling to its ideology and those who would pacify them. Perhaps you should actually read the books the faiths rest upon.
I bet you never seen a Koran or a Bible, let alone read them. The Bible is all about God's commands to his chosen people to mass murder all enemies. Even Jesus will come back with a huge sword and confessed he did not come in peace. Where is the Koran says to preach in kindness and wisedome and only war in self-defense.
The bible does in fact say to kill all muslims. Not just the bible, but god himself instructs this. He instructs this over and over and over and over and over throughout the whole bible. Read it sometime.
News Flash: If all Muslims followed the "kill the infidels" portions of the book, they'd probably have taken over the world by now.
Just like the Christians with the Bible, the Koran is selectively interpreted. Moderate Muslims do not emphasize the "kill the infidel" portions of the Koran any more than most modern Christian sects emphasize the passages concerning how you should treat your slaves or how you should marry your daughter to her rapist after he pays you some silver.
Please take the time to ensure you have used proper grammar and spelling in your posts. Generally speaking, this is the only language you are tasked with mastering, and your typing of random, incoherent letters and words in your post will only serve to destroy your credibility.
I have worked as a pastor and a chaplain in protestant churches and in health care for more than 30 years. I know very well the reality of what Brian McLaren reports as the beliefs of many evangelical christians. Unfortunately all religions (whatever names they may call themselves) can be very unhealthy for children, other living things, and the future of our planet. Very sad. My hope is that people like Brian will continue to speak out against the hatred and fear that religious leaders continue to proclaim in the name of "God". Thank you Brian McLaren!
CNN get ready......I am going to post an offensive picture of Mohammad
That was the funniest post! Thanks for bringing humor to this otherwise boring mix of rants...
While McLaren is exposing a (well-known) truth, at the same time, he appears to be another evangelical apologizing for others of the same ilk. Saying they are not all that way - well, the majority of evangelical Christians I've met (in a very conservative part of the South), spew their hatred of Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Mormons as loudly as that directed at non-believers. They are not a minority, but the bult of church-going, Biblical-righteous folks. See themselves as the 'new saved ones' – revealing an intolerance of ANYONE who isn't like them. Are they the radical fringe? Of evangelicals themselves, I think not - they are the 'norm' of that rather abnormal (in my opinion), group of citizens.
Not only will religious fanatics kill you. If you are a Christian in a Muslim country there is no guarantee you will be protected period. In some countries you may be convicted under their blasphemy laws. So Mclaren's clever ploy against so called Islamaphobes is ludicrous. Christians have every right to fear Islam and be cautious of Muslims. While there are Muslims who respect religious freedom, others seek to establish Islamic theocracy. I have no sympathy for those seeking pity for Muslims here where Muslims are protected under the law. The question is why do they seek to discriminate against any mention of the Christian and Jewish God in this country which is by tradition Jewish and Christian. We were not a secular nation as many Muslim countries are. We have a Judean-Christian form of civil government which is unique to the world and which extends religious liberty to all. A secular (atheist) government is hostile to religion and could not have tolerated religious freedom or granted them in the form we now enjoy. So enjoy your pity party for Muslims McLaren, but rest assured that you will be scrutinized and suspect if you seek to limit religious liberty in the US of A.
yes IT IS fundi chritsians like YOU who want to replace the const. with Biblical laws and moral codes, NOT Muslims. There should be Christianphobia not Islamphobia of an imaginary danger than the 2% of the US population that are Muslim are going to take over....
The only thing left to choose is which day we decide to eradicate Islam. All verbiage regarding freedom of religion must be changed to include the word "peaceful", e.g., "freedom of peaceful religion". All Muslims must be stripped of their citizenship and deported. All U.S. diplomatic missions in Muslim ruled countries must be called home. All free trade and foreign aid to Muslim ruled countries must cease. Drilling in ANWR must begin immediately. The U.S. must begin to target Muslim clerics and mosques if this problem is ever to be solved.
that's kind of thinking of OBL and his guys...wait I think your thinking is even several times more extreme.
There's this war going on. I don't know if you noticed it. It's Muslims vs. the West. Whose side are you on?
No, butchie-poo, it isn't. Only numbskulls like you believe such crap.
I fear for you, America. If you cease trade with the Middle East, you will not exist.
You should stop smoking weed. It has blinded you from the last 12 years of current events.
I don't smoke weed or anything else, butchikins. I leave that to dolts like you.
So you're an adult internet commentator incapable of formulating a thought without the use of baby talk. And you don't do drugs? I don't know if I would admit to that. At least before you had an excuse.
Listen to yourself Butch. You sound exactly like the Islamic fundamentalist you rail against. You are no better than them. People like you are the problem.
Butchy, dear, you deserve to be ridiculed. You're nothing but a pompous blowhard who's full of sh!t.
Yes. Peaceful people not harming anyone over here just trying to make a living and voicing their opinions are obviously "THE" problem.
Crazed religious zealots blowing themselves up on the off-chance they'll get to repeatedly defile 72 virgins in the afterlife?
Nope. No problem there.
Any bozo who thinks that Muslim citizens of the US should be deported is so far beyond stupid it's hard to believe he owns a computer or a pot to p!ss in.
You're a joke, butch. Nobody could be that moronic.
Well it's clear what side you've chosen. I'd stay away from mosques if I were you. Also, be sure to stay clean shaven and leave the towel in the bathroom where it belongs. You should be safe.
The thing many folks of your views don't seem to get is this; our legal system is based on precedents. The laws you write to oppress those undesirable in your view, can be used in the future to oppress religious freedom in general. Who decides if a religion is "peaceful"? Surely your not suggesting that Christianity is "peaceful ". The history of Christianity shows it as anything but peaceful, given the enormous amount of intolerance, torture and murder perpetrated by the "Christian Church" over history. So the very laws that many claiming Christ are advocating (though I have serious doubts about the true faith of those who live their lives in fear, the "god" they worship is apparently not in control of anything), can be easily used in the future to eliminate religious freedom entirely in this country.
Gee, what powerful insight, Butch! You really are such a brilliant commentator on this topic!
Did you drop out of community college or did you flunk out?
It's funny that you call yourself peaceful. In your post you advocated the eradication of Islam and forced relocation of people. That is not peaceful. Again, people like you are the problem.
Too many Muslims at community college. I dropped out of a real university.
Neither one teaches you anything useful outside of law, medicine or rocket science. Which one of those do you do?
So you couldn't cut it and now you're working at a dead-end job because you're such a lunk-head you can't manage to get a degree.
I thought as much.
Every two or three generations, there comes a time when even the most peaceful of people must stand up for themselves and do what is necessary.
See WW2 and the eradication of the NAZI party. Oh. I see, you think we shouldn't have killed them all?
If you call self employment and half million net worth a dead end job. Because it's totally impossible to do anything without that little piece of paper, right?
What post office do you work at? Good thing you had that degree!
I suppose you think the Ja panese internment camps were a great idea, didn't you, muttonhead?
Really, troll harder, butch. You're just silly.
Ooooh, he's a millionaire! And he's self-employed!
Sure you are, butch. So's every other wackaloon who gets called on his stupidity.
If it were up to me they would have been sent to a remote island in the South Pacific. Those camps were expensive what with all the feeding them, etc.
Oh, whoops! I was mistaken–you aren't a millionaire, after all. Half a million net worth? Chump change, dear. Apparently you have no idea what the cost of living is these days. That's because you're still in high school and you're just here because you have the day off from school tomorrow as it's a holiday.
Do I need to explain to you the difference between "half million net worth" and "millionaire"?
Yup. I am guessing you're a sophom ore at the most. Probably don't even have your learner's permit.
Oh, sweetie, I hate to break it to you, but your net worth of 500 grand isn't even on the spectrum of being well-off.
Nighty-night, butchie dear. Don't let the Muslims in your closet get you.
I'll be expecting my junk mail and coupons bright and early tomorrow. Don't be late. If you still have a job, that is. Never know with the post office these days.
Good night all! Happy trolling!
I don't see how this writer calls himself an evangelical. If you are a Christian, you believe there is only ONE God. That God is not Allah, and Islam is false. If you love Muslims, you should not be "coexisting" with them or "tolerating" them. You should be trying to save their souls and convert them. This is not about hating the individual Muslim, but about saving them. Deep down you should know that the Muslims who continue to believe in Allah and Muhammad will go to hell because their belief system is a false one. There is no Allah up there.
I do agree that there is no Allah up there but your god is not up there either. Both are fictional characters created by ancient people to ease their fear of the unknown.
Allah and Jehovah are one and the same.... the God of Abraham.... check your theology books. I too grew up in an Evangelical church, I am well aware of this Anti-Muslim fearmongering.
hey McLaren,you are bag of hammers dumb and blind...the video is of so so production quality,even goofy,but the message in it is correct....farm animal abusers,farm animal perverts....and American dudes get the girls...no pretty virgins for the livestock weirdos.....they really need to stop listening to those religious Mooloos or whatever it is they call themselves..oh..one more thing....your buddy Bin Laden is at the bottom of the ocean,,,and did i mention...American dudes get the girls... :)
You may have hit it on the head. They've been lookin' for some excuse to protest. Why? Cuz American dudes get the girls and they just can't stand it. Why? Cuz we got mo' money. But they can't say that cuz it would make them look petty jealous and foolish...and poor. So they pretend they're protesting over some idiot anti-islamo movie. But we all know the real reason they're stompin' dust. They hate all American dudes cuz we get all the girls...cuz we're bigger where it counts an' we got all the money. ;op
Christianity has evolved, for all those that keep bringing up such history as the crusades as justification for what muslims do. Islam has not evolved, they are still stuck in the dark ages with their "vengeful" deity. Looks like the only solution is to play a good game of "cowboys and muslims."
I guess you have not noticed wars in recent history in THEIR region by the US and its allies. ah forgot the US can never do no good, we're a force of hope and liberation...or whatever Faux news feed you to justify wars...hahaha
We are being asked to remain silent and throw our fellow Christians who are being persecuted in Muslim countries under the bus for the sake of getting along. Well we won't. We will speak with the one weapon we have and that is our First Amendment right to bring up these atrocities and voice our concerns no matter how much the politically correct media tries to shame or ridicule us into silence.
Seems like it is Muslims, their mosques, schools, Korans, and beliefs that are constantly attacked. I have yet to hear about Muslims insulting Jesus or burning the bible, or daily burn/graffiti churches or christian grave, have you?
Muslims in this country and all over the world are with you and are against all kind of extremism and terrorism. We are against any Hitler killing millions of innocent Jews. We are against the people who killed the US Ambassador and other innocent civilians. We also do not support anyone willfully hurting anyone's feeling by making a third rate film.
The problem is not the religious teachings but the immense wealth from oil is being used to spread Islam. Though every religion is asking for contribution to run their religion, only muslims follow the call and give "sakkath" 10% of their income. Even a good and open minded Muslim believes that "Islam" is the only way to God and it is their duty to direct all people to the right path.
All these looks harmless. But, when this sakkath money is pumped to America, Australia and other countries where muslims anre a minority, the rich of the religion utilize the majority illiterate and innocent poor muslims to create volience and chaos.
Look at the history of the world for the past few decades. Allways, the world attention and money is spent on problems created by these Islamic militants. Iran revoIution, Sudan massacre, Iraq killings, Russian rebels, Afghan, Kashmere, Palestenian, Kosovo, Bosnia, the list is too long. The world should think "does it worth to spend all the assets to fix the Islamic problems? Leave them alone and focus on other things." Always the money to spend on the welfare of the poor in western countries is wasted to address these Islamic disputes. The money of the oil wealth they are using to create these troubles and to build Mosques. Somehow, when life becomes miserable, people will bend to get the aids from the Mosques. Islamisation is the ultimate goal. Nobody cares the freedom of women, or freedom of speech.
more islamphobic propaganda that has no relation to reality. Cite on muslim who ever said they want to convert people in america and australia through force and impose sharia. not even OBL ever said that.
Vast majority of Muslims do not have any problem with Christians, Jews, Hindus or people of any belief. It is a very tiny minority who want to spread hate. Writer rightfully pointed out that even in Christians you find people who spread hate. In every religion, race and people, you will find some who are extremists. Their objective is to convince the common man that they are right. If someone starts believing that hate will solve the problem, the extremist wins. Unfortunately they find a lot of recruits in illiterate minds and unfortunately literacy rate among Muslims is the lowest. Hence, they are easy targets for this extremist ideology.
Question is, "Do we want the extremists and terrorists to win". I am sure all sane minds will say "No". Solution in my opinion is what the writer is attempting. Spread a message of love and peace in line with the teachings of Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ, Krishna, Gotum Budh and Mohammed. One more important thing is to spread knowledge and literacy. That is how we can fight ignorance and extremism.
One does not have to have Islamophobia to know that religious fanatics will kill you.
The Irony is that Muslim countries are the safest countries in the world to travel in, and the most dangerous countries are actually Christian (central & south America). I've traveled independently in 8 Muslim countries with zero problems.
Of course they are! They are police states OR they cut off the hand of a burglar or stone a woman who is deemed to be an adultress! Yes very safe!!
And just how many places have you travelled to in your life? Michael.
Michael's never been to a town that has buildings more than 3 stories tall.
this may come as news to CNN...
but evangelicals arent going to take this any more seriously than anything else brian mcclaren has to say...
mr. Mclaren is a latter day spiritual Gnostic... his ideas were refuted by the church 1800 yearts ago...
So what you are saying is that the ideas were refuted by "man" 1800 years ago.
There is a better way. Stop brain washing the children with religion.
yo mclaren,wishfull thinking,your blind,the video was of so so production quality,even goofy...yet the point it was making is accurate..farm animal abusers/farm animal perverts.....
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.