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.
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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.
Are all Muslims evil and violent? Certainly not. Should all Muslims be hated for what some do? Of course not. But it's worthy of consideration that there are neighborhoods in any city/state/country where it is not safe to be if you are not from there. Does that mean that all of the citizens in these ares are bad people? Again. no. But to blanketly deny the danger carries inherent risk.
Are all Christian evil and violent? Certainly not. Should all Christians be hated for what some do? Of course not. But it's worthy of consideration that there are neighborhoods in any city/state/country where it is not safe to be if you are not from there. Does that mean that all of the Christians in these ares are bad people? Again. no. But to blanketly deny that some HARM OUR NATIONAL SECURITY by fomenting hatred is to deny reality.
Given that a phobia is an irrational fear of something, and that Muslims around the world have repeatedly demonstrated a proclivity to murder and riot over the most trifling of excuses, I'd say that there is no such thing as "Islamophobia." Rather, it's more like a fear of rattlesnakes or Sydney funnel web spiders - proven killers of which one should have a well-earned fear.
Exactly. Like the website barenakedislam reads
"Its not "Islamophobia" when they really are trying to ke11 you!"
Good thing I'm an Atheist, I can hate all religions without any conflict of conscience.
But why hate?
Exactly Frank. That's like saying. I don't believe in Santa Clause so I HATE SANTA CLAUSE! Same exact principle. That always puzzles me about atheist, if you don't believe in something then IGNORE IT! If you don't like something, IGNORE IT! Stay away from it. But no, an atheist has to go out of his way to keep everyone else from believing which in itself becomes EVIL.
No, it's like saying I hate all fairy tales.
Because throughout history religious believers have murdered under the banner of Faith!
It is amazing that somehow every ill is the fault of evangelical Christians. You are saying it is wrong to "demonize" Islam because of the views and actions of a few...and then you go on to do exactly what you are whining about by "demonizing" all evangelicals because of the views and actions of a few.
The crusades were 800 years ago and there are people on this forum EVERYday blaming Christians for wars. CNN has virtually never run an article saying it is unfair to label all Christians for actions like these. Yet, the minute there is an action happening right now that involves Muslims, you can always guarantee an article defending them.
And now even these attacks are the fault of evangelicals. What a shame that many will believe you.
First of all...it's CARTOONS and MOVIES...get over it.
Secondly, it's a U.S. film, using U.S. websites, under U.S. laws and rights.
Third, anyone who thinks we should WILLINGLY throw away the freedoms which hundreds of thousands of people DIED for (over two wars...revolutionary and civil)... is patently mental and needs to go live elsewhere. Putting the rights of Muslims IN FRONT of our own freedoms...is absolutely criminal.
To APOLOGIZE and PANDER to a culture that PUBLICLY hangs gays and stones women is a sure sign our nation is a nation of wussies. For goodness sake have some principles for once. People died hoping we would uphold them...stop throwing them away.
666 666 666
666 666 666 666
666 666 666 666 666
666 666 666 666 666 666
Nice post. You headed out to shoot a bunch of people next, because you're finally catching-on that you're a moron?
If only that memory erasing device from Men In Black existed... we could wipe out the hate from all the extremists, they would have no reason to riot and kill
what's that you say?
666, huh, eh?
do you think maybe 666 is the number of a sunspot or something else not human, or does it stand for a person???
question for the day – other than 666 you say
?maybe it was really 999 upside down.
try that one.
Did I see an 8 in there?
how dare this man apologize for us,we're not the ones terrorizing the world,and quit calling this an isolated phenomena when this so-called peaceful religion is doing horrible things to people the world over.ask most real Americans,not those in "polls" and you'll find that we never cared for muslims.
This guy lives in La-La land.... The most ridiculous article of the day. Take your stupid idea to the middle east.... or better yet, take it to Dearborn Michigan and while these animals are hack-sawing off the heads of you, your wife and your children let's see how your Isalophobic myth goes over with your followers.
I find your example of the muslim overreaction to a "tawdry and puerile" video does little to illustrate how Christians and Evangelicals need to admit to "Islamaphobia". In 1938 the Nazi party was responsible for an event known as "Crystal Night", where 7,500 Jewish shops destroyed and 400 synagogues were burnt down. Does the article's author feel that the Christian churches of the time exhibited "Naziphobia"? Had he been there in those years, would the author have asked "How many of you actually have a nazi friend, or have met one"? As the Nazi's stormed into Poland with little or no justification, would he have suggested that we need to look at WHY the Nazi's did it, and not judge them so harshly? Because to me, the Muslims storming a US embassy because a private individual made a moronic video that "upset" them draws a lot of parallels. How many atrocities were comitted by the Nazi Party while cozy academics like the author suggested we not be alarmed, not get angry, not judge too harshly, and ignore the reality. Here is some reality for you: I've had close Muslim friends. I've been in the Middle East and Islamic countries in peacetime and in wartime. I've been both welcomed and fired-upon by Muslims. Unlike you (The Author) I have seen the best AND worst. So, pardon my humble input, but YOU sir do not need to suggest Christians and Evangelicals need to admit to ANYTHING. You are a theological Neville Chamberlain, and I have no doubt that in your dreams you wave this article over your head and yell "I've secured peace in our times!". History hasn't been kind to Mr. Chamberlain, has it? You may want to remember that, and get off your high horse before it gets shot out from under you.
how in the world did you ever manage to bring nazis into this ?
Because the ideology of ISLAM is "IDENTICAL" to Hit lers ideology. MIEN KAMPF!
Some lunatic makes a film which insults the Muslims, in retaliation Muslims kill, burn and destroy, and somehow the author blames the evangelical extremists!? The mainstream Christians have denounced the movie but the acts that Muslims have posed are not in any way excusable. If Muslims were to make a movie that would insult Christians I really doubt there would be attacks, riots and destruction in predominantely Christian countries... And if indeed it was only some extremists that caused all the destructions how is it for example that Egypt has voted the Muslim Brotherhood which has not even condemned these acts... If the Islamic Brotherhood won a democratic election that says alot about the mentality of the majority of people, it is not some extremists but a large segment of the population...
This clown is obviously a flaming liberal that wrote this article. They all live in FANTASY LAND.
Get Jesus back in the flesh...then, the prophecy of the prophet is fulfilled, the church is judged, and the Hebrews will have their messiah..as for all the others, they will see the truth that the church has not been able to show them. Then the world will be ruled by Jesus , for 1000 years before menkind will rebel again...after that new heavens, new earth and new Jerusalem...simple.
So muslims should pray five times a day that God sends Jesus, son of Mary back to fulfill the prophecy.
Christians should finish tesitfying the good news of the Kingdom of God to all nations, so the end can come,
and Hebrews should get their Temple ready for the Messiah, and everybody else ...watch and pray.
How unfortunate that religion has people hoping for the end of the world. It's insane.
Actions speak louder than works and muslims have been crystal clear on their intentions.
7 Libyan security forces, likely Muslims, sacrificed their lives trying to protect our ambassador at the US consulate. Actions do indeed speak louder than words.
Those seven were shot by the other fifty-three police that ran into the conflict and then joined the rabble. A fifty-fourth was not counted, as she was a female, and was immediately stripped and groped by the crowd. Yes, actions speak louder than words.
Seven do not make up for the evils of how many thousands?
"Seven do not make up for the evils of how many thousands?"
You don't understand. Those 7 were not responsible for the actions of terrorists. You try to divide the world as between us and them. In doing so, you insult good people. By condemning Islam instead of terrorism, you pretend that those who sacrifice their lives to try to protect the lives of innocents are the same as those who killed them.
Why haven't we learned during the last 2000+ years that religion is a fuel for warfare? It is the most common theme in so many wars or crusades. Yet amazingly once you get a religious believer to the microphone they all talk of peace and tolerance. This is garbage and it has gone on for too long. Where in "You shall have no other God before me" do you see tolerance? If you truly believe all men are equal and that this Islamophobia is truly some form of American phobia, then you must abandon your Chrisitan values, which state that yours is the only true god.
We won't know peace until we stop worshipping false idols and learn to worship humans, as we are truly the only ones that can save ourselves from the violent paths that religion repeatedly leads us down.
Thank you Robert for this very clear respons. I can only say I could not agree more. Best regards!
Ill debunk that nonsense. Me and every one I know that believes in GOD and is a Christian could CARE LESS what other people believe. We know where we stand and if other choose to believe in something else we never give it a second thought. Your comment in NONSENSE.
The only religion, well its not a religion, its a radical, violent ideology more horrifying than Hit lers ideology written in Mien Kampf is "ISLAM" No other religion's bible tells its followers to convert or ki11 anyone that refuses or insults their religion. NO OTHER RELIGION ON EARTH!
What a perfect way to avoid the content of my comment, make a little jab that offers no rebuttal. Please give me a list of positive "products", if you will, that religion has brought to society. Aside from a violent history, what other significant effects has religion had in the world? Religion certainly hasn't resulted in peace or stability, it doesn't feed the population, or provide education. What has religion contributed to history aside from war and works of art?
I have better idea, why dont you look at every country in the world that is NOT majority Christian and come and tell us how nice those counties are to live in.
The article is nonsense. Because of a few false e-mails we should ignore the evils of Islam. I don't think so. We still need to recognize that Islam cannot and should not be accepted by rational people.
Religion itself should not be accepted by logical and rational people.
That's not what he said. He said we should also cast the mote from our own eye. I agree with him, but the problem of our Islamophobes is orders of magnitudes smaller than the threat of militant Islamists. Arguing with irrational people, whether Islamophobes or Islamists, is like teaching the proverbial pig to sing. We need to disengage.
Well atleast we wouldnt have to look at ugly women anymore when they are all put in Burqes.
Awesome article. At times like these people of all religions should be coming together not creating a wider divide. 99.999% of muslims worldwide disagree with the violence associated with that garbage film, but that 0.001% of those people are getting all of the media attention. In egypt there are 85,000,000 people and the number of protesters that are vandalizing the US embassy are a couple of hundred hooligans. No one knows who they are, what they are about, where they came from, or what religion they are.
America has a serious phobia issue that go back decades, or even centuries. Before it was Native American-phobia, then it was African-phobia, for a while it was Arab-phobia and today it is Muslim-phobia. A couple of decades from now, us or our children are going to look back on today shamefully the way we look back on the way African Americans and Native american where treated during the past two centuries.
I am ecstatic to see someone especially from the Evangelist community promoting togetherness rather than separation, understanding rather than prejudice, love rather than hate, peace rather than war. I am American just like everyone else, and even more american than some Americans (Native American Background) but I will not allow anyone to judge me just because I am Muslim.
Better keep an eye on this one, hes double trouble, Native american and Muslim. You saw what they did to Custard now they are going wholesale across the world.
No, sadly I wasn't around back then. What did they do to Custard? Serve him up with a side of strawberries? :)
If 99.999% of Muslims disagree with the violence then why do they not share this with the rest of the world by acting like it. Muslims use men. women, children and the mentally ill and the Muslim world says nothing. Muslims poison school girls, just because they attended school and the Muslim world says nothing and the list is long of the violence of Muslims yet it goes unprotested. Yet when Muslims took to the air 9/11 there were cheers from Muslims around the world. When some 2 bit nobody misister from Florida wanted to burn a half dozen Quran the Muslim world chated "Death to America" and now these protests (that does not seem as isolated an incident as you claim). No, I beg to differ with you, no actually I flat out disagree with you and I base this on the actions (or actually the inactions) of Muslims world wide. From what I see of the voice of Muslims world wide they seem quite content with the violence being perpetrated to the infidels of the world, and mainly Americans..
Just like Democrats and Republicans it will take both sides to accept each other's differences and be willing to live with each other without feeling the need to attack each other before any of this can be resolved. The two cultures are so different. Each side doesn't understand each other and is repulsed by each others lifestyles.
I guess the only way to resolve this is the same way you put cats together. You put them together and they fight,. Eventually they work things out and accept each other after hurting each other long enough.
I understand what you are saying, but since I don't want to be held responsible for the actions of some goofy fellow american, I can't honestly expect every muslim everywhere to immediately condemn bad actions. Not all of them have the ability to voice their concerns.
If 99.9999% disagreed, they would stop it. But they don't. They are either ineffective or quiet sympathizers.
NONSENSE. So 85,000,000 Egyptians cant control a few hundred thugs? Are you that NAIVE? How old are you?
Pure insanity. What about Christianphobia and Judiphobia? I mean, after all, Muslims do want to kill all Christians and Jews!
Sry bud, i don't know one Muslim that literally wants to kill anyone. On the other hand, I do know a couple of American who wouldn't mind killing them a few Muslim.
We need to pull our troops and civilian personel out of all these radical nations and let them get on with their own insane lives. We should have learned from the Russians re Afghanistan. Any future attacks on US soil should be dealt with by careful surgical strikes a la Bin Laden.
It sounds as though the author is miffed that his books are no longer carried in Christian bookstores? Just a quick reminder that last week a 55 year old female missionary named Cheryll Harvey was killed in her apartment in Barha, Amman, where she had been teaching English in Jordan for 24 years. She was slain by a teenaged Muslim. Every day Christians, Jews, Atheists, Agnostics, and others are slain by radical Muslims. It is not restricted to one targeted religion or group. Radical Muslims hate everyone equally. My heart breaks for the chaos we see worldwide. My son, an active member of the U.S. Army, has put his life on the line to save us all from this madness and I pray daily (yes, I am Christian) that he won't lose that life in vain. We all need to be on our knees praying that God will show mercy on those who suffer at the hands of any such violence and that He will move in the hearts of those who believe violence against anyone is acceptable.
Emphasis on radical. There are radicals in every religion, including Christianity. Any Christian who preaches hate against those of another faith is no Christian. The best way to fight radical ideology is to fight the urge towards hatred in our own hearts.
what shall atheists do? we cannot pray to a being in which we do not believe.
Very very well said!!
How can we be surprised at the violence when the overall percentage of humans willing to argue over invisible friends is so great?
totally agree with you on that one well said.
Well Brian Probably not the response you were looking for here. Many would like to wallow in self-righteous ignorance instead of looking forward to a solution. Well stated though.
Wake up Rick you have drank the coolaid me thinks.
I agree with you, it's unfortunate that very few are doing the hard work, these comments are a true reflection of that fact.
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