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.
Sound's like B.D's has got a great template for healing the Christian/Muslim quandary. I suggest President Obama appoint him our next (Benghazi) Libya Ambassador. Maybe he could appease them with a little Kumbaya!
When "The Last Temptation of Christ" came out, Christians were angry, yet no one's death was blamed for it. While there were protests at theaters across the country, the filmakers were not hauled into police custody for interogation. While Christian images of the Christ and Virgin mary are covered in boldily fluids and fecal matter, Christians get angry, yet no deaths are blamed for it and the artists are not dragged into police custody for interogation. Hundreds of foreign nationals protest and do damage to foreign embasies in the name of reribution for a You Tube video of some obscure film and the first thing our government does is haul this guy in for making something offensive. The only speech that needs protecting is that which is offensive to someone. Well, at least we wont be trying to vandalize your place of work or hauling you in for questioning. Thank God we live here where all voices can be heard and debated with little fear of physical retribution.
That's because we live in a free, secular society where THESE Muslims do not. The only thing that keeps most conservative Christians here in check is their fear of getting caught and doing time. Take that fear away and just you watch out!
All religion should be banned, and those that continue to preach it removed from the general population.
The Nazis were tied in with Christian churches, remember?
We hear you and know there are many out there with your same thought process. Jesus didn't die so we could argue about who is the greatest in the kingdom of God; his own followers asked him this question because they thought the Salvation of their souls relied upon some kind of works they needed to do. Christ paid the price on the cross, there's nothing more for us to do than to simply believe that He died, was buried and that he rose again three days later and is sitting at the right hand of God the Father in Heaven at this very moment waiting for you to call upon Him for your own Salvation. He loves you and wants to see you in Heaven.
Kevin, that's complete nonsense. The whole premise of Christianity that the death of the son of god would have been any kind of "sacrifice" and was required to deal with "sin" is utter nonsense. This is a supposed omnipotent being that we are discussing. Christians, think this through a bit: how come your 'omnipotent' creature couldn't do all that supposed saving without the loony son sacrifice bit? And for that matter, how was it a sacrifice at all, when an omnipotent being could just pop up a replacement son any time it wants with less than a snap of its fingers? Pretty feeble god it is that you've made for yourself there. Give that some thought and maybe it will help you leave your delusions behind. You will remain a laughingstock otherwise, and the more you dwell in your silly delusion and ancient myths, instead of keeping up with advances in medicine and technology, the more America slips downward relative to the rest of the world in science and other fields.
Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
Religious intolerance and lunacy will lead to the downfall of humanity...
The columnist is obvioulsy critical of people who critcize Islam. But the real truth is that people like him are AFRAID of the unrest. They just want status quo. Fine. For sure any change in this religion will need to come from inside. Any pressure from outside will only make this worse. They need leaders like Ataturk who tried to modernise the culture. The West and the corporations will rather help out these uneducated Sheiks to stay in power so they can control them easily. May be we should just wait for democracy to bloom in mideast.
Brian McLaren is a poor representative of what mainline Christians think and believe. There is a reason, as he admits that many book stores no longer carry his books. McLaren is like the radical liberal of Christianity. His views are not only out of step with reality, they are factually flawed. He doesn't address what the Koran actually says. He doesn't address why anyone would kill other people merely over a "adolescent and puerile film". Maybe it is because Islam at its core is a violent religion, founded on violence and oppression, and intolerance People like McLaren live in an elitist fantasy world where they only rub elbows with other elitists like themselves. I say let McLaren go to Afghanistan, to a backwater area and tell all the locals he is a "Christian" and see how long he keep his "tawdry", egotistical head.
Anybody looking at Christianity up to 300 years ago would have seen it as equally violent. What if an effort was put forward to eliminate it then, or Judaism at the time of the purge of the promised land? None of the Abrahamic religions were ever without their violent, intolerant side.
hamm, God doesn't tolerate sin. He doesn't have to tolerate it, either.
Mohammed was/is a false religious leader. Muslims are only dedicated to taking over your entire society and forcing it to following Islamic law. You are only safe if their population is less than 2 or 3% of your country, once they exceed that percentage, WATCH OUT. Peaceful Muslims? Yes, as long as they are a very small percentage of your society. Watch this level of violence escalate as these Muslim criminals continue to commit terrorist acts across the mid-east and the rest of the world. We in the United States are just so foolish.
Meanwhile, the rapture ready are eagerly anticipating the end of the world and Christ's forcing Christian reign over what remains, eliminating all other religions. Isn't that basically the same selfish thing?
God bless America! A free country where religious prosecution is a thing of the European past. A country where we can all practice the religions we believe in, openly. Unfortuntely, we need to keep an eye on the Muslim religions radical stance and intolerance of other religious beliefs. Their religion promotes hate and mayhem by their simple "death to all infidel" stance supported at the highest levels. Therefore, they are the #1 enemy of religious freedom and should be treated accordingly.
No it's not. We don't kill you for disagreeing with us.
It is always the Christians that needs to give up and to understand where they are coming from. The author conveniently forget that these lies and misperception has been constantly being passed from muslim to muslim about the Jews since the beginning of their faith, now they don't like it when someone else does it to their faith. Talk about thin skinned if you can dish it out and call American and Jews Pigs and Satan then you should be able to receive criticism too.
Their religion teaches that God has no Son and Jesus was not crucified but Jesus said "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; No man comes to the Father except through Me" by way of the cross.
Its two competing world views the God of the Bible and the other gods of the world. God still asks whom do you choose to follow, even today. Christians lose their heads over choosing the God of the Buble, we at least give them the ablity to choose what they believe and they call us lslamaphobic just becasue we question or contradict their blind faith.
In the end it is all about a plan to silence any opposition or critique of their faith everything else is just a coverup. We live in a free country and in a free society with the ability to critique anyone ane everyone including godless Atheists critiquing our own faith, we dont ask them to be killed or silence.
This loser's a "Christian" the way Ron Paul's a "Republican." He sufferers from "self-hating Christian syndrome" and has been outside the mainstream for years. This article only proves it further.
None of this has anything to do with religion. There are bad people and there are good people. Having a religion back any of those human decisions is nothing more than a cop-out and false. I'm not religious and a very compassionate person. Many religious extremists are far from compassionate. Many religious people are as compassionate as I am. Many atheists are both good and bad as well. There is only one common denominator to all that is good and bad in human behavior...humans.
You are either being disingenuous or ignorant–his has everything to do with religion. I have studied Islam and have a much more intimate understanding of the theological doctrines and ideas that arise from this system of belief than the average individual, and I can tell you that violence against infidels and apostates is explicitly mandates in the Q'uran, and supported by the hadith. I find it troubling that so many are quick to excuse the religion that actually fosters and incubates these violent and irrational beliefs, and instead seek political or social justifications for killing people who do not share these ideas. If you are truly seeking an answer, look to the foundational texts and listen to what the Imams are telling the faithfull–therein lies your answer. Certainly, there are many Muslims who do not exercise violence toward non believers, but this is simply because they do not take their religion as seriously as others. This does not excuse what the Q'uran actually does say.
Completely agree. Well put.
Well said T rex. People do not want to lend credence to the fact the quran has abdicated violence since day 1. They do not believe in freedom of religion. You have no freedoms in Islamic run countries, just ask them.
@Tmax and Damien
The same could be said about any religious text. Christianity for example is filled with violence. religious people are quick to point out that atheists are some of the worlds most notorious murderers, although I would chalk that up to them being politically motivated rather than in the name of atheism.
To point to the quran or someone being muslim as a reason they are violent seems much more ignorant than saying it's because they are human.
Also, religion istelf is a human creation, so shouldn't humans take on the responsibility for the crimes of their own creation and not the creation itself, which btw has no conscience of it's own?
You sound like someone that would blame the gun rather than the shooter in a murder.
What "this guy" said is right on and very factual. The bible is chock full of instructions to do violence, and guidance to be bigoted and hateful. It is very comparable to the Quran that way. Christians, especially those in the US, merely turn a blind eye to those parts of the bible and read it selectively, because they lack the courage to get past the delusions of their religion. Holding up the Quran or Islam as the root of the problem here is incomplete, lazy analysis.
Muhammad's first gift was skill at raiding travelers on trading routes and became rich at it. Like most rich it went to his head.
The Muslim religion is one of violence. If you are not Muslim, and refuse to convert, you as an "infidel" should be killed. We Americans have just been too "insulated" here in North America, to the realities of living overseas. The rest of the world really doesn't like us, they envy our freedoms, our way of life, and success, and most would do anything to live here. Short of that, they would do anything to harm us. This particularly applies to Muslims. Extremists only? Think again – where is the outcry against "extremist" Muslims' criminal and terroristic deeds from all those "good" moderate Muslims here in the United States? Muslims here in the US have nothing to fear yet they enjoy our liberties and lifestyle and remain silent to all these transgressions and say nothing, do nothing. Enough said.
And that, right there, is exactly the lies that he is talking about. You don't actually know anything about Islam, you just assume you know.
Again, your bible contains the exact same commands. You nutters just refuse to obey your god.
Joseph is exactly right. Where is the outcry? If the Pope was faced with Catholics chanting "death to all Muslims" he would immediately chastise the radicals and disown them from the relilgion.
As long as the Muslim religion stands behind their position of "death to all infidels' I consider them a profound enemy and will act accordingly. As a matter of fact, for every murder committed on an infidel should result in a flattened mosque.
@Mike- Any religion (Islam is no different) has a wealth of scriptures and traditions that are open to individual interpretation. We simply have to ask ourselves if the foundational text for this systematized system of thought ACTUALLY mandates killing apostates and infidels–and it does, many many times over. You are attempting to rationalize the irrational and that takes some fancy mental gymnastics to accomplish. Incidentally, you are not convincing.
Reply to Mike – I lived overseas and saw Muslims first hand display their true hatred for Christians. Here in the United States as a warden in a prison, I saw the Muslims "recruit" prisoners and "convert" them. Of course the Muslim clerics didn't understand our prisoners and their mentality. They would only "convert" in order to enjoy the privileges the Muslims received during their religious holiday. Once that was over – guess what? They were no longer converts. You had better wake up. This religion is the least tolerant of any. Go live in the middle east and enjoy!
Islam is a perfect gang banger religion and growing in the fertile ground of uncle sugar's prisons.
You can out whatever name you want on it. A dislike for a religion that will kill you if you refuse to join or respect it is simply common sense.
Note that your statement also applies to that other popular superst-ition, Christianity.
Religion should be a personal choice and accepted by all that we come in contact with, and not sold like a product. My church is full of people, yet nobody is going around knocking on doors, dropping off pamphlets, or asking strangers to join. Enough with the sales pitch/disapproval of your current choice style of interacting. Just do good work for charity and live as a good example to others, but don't rub anyone's nose in it. That is the simple and true method to avoid turning off other people.
Imagine the way this message comes across: you are doing it all wrong and you should be ashamed of yourself! Come join us!
I am not buying the whole "Islamophobia" agument. It seems to me that many Muslims have done everythign in their power to make those in the West look askance at them, wheter it be the nut jobs blwoing people up or the incredible silence about it from the majority of Muslims. Where is the anti-Jihadist outrage in the Muslim world? Where is it among Muslims living in the West? Silence is complicity.
Deafness is complicity too. Many muslim voices can be heard criticizing their crazies, if you just listen. And thank God there are evangelical voices calling out their crazies too.
These terrorists don't represent the majority of Muslims anymore than the KKK would represent the USA! The people who committed these heinous acts are deranged criminals full of hatred and anger, but they are still a minority! What they seek above of all is an excuse to kill Westerners (not just Americans) and to provoke riots every time they find a convenient pretext, in this case, the highly inflammatory film in question. .....but you don't need to burn down an entire house just to get rid of a few hornet's nests Those who advocate threats and even more violence on the entire Muslim world, are playing right into the hands of these extremists! Remember, the majority of righteous people in the world (including Muslims) don't hate Americans! Most of the righteous people around the world are not insane. They don't hate anybody and all they want is freedom, happiness and above all peace!
Really! tell us more, tell us where did u gather the data and came to that conclusions...
Muslims the world over celebrated the 9-11 destruction of the twin towers.
thanx for the fractured fairytale
"These terrorists don't represent the majority of Muslims" Really ? Where are the peaceful Muslims, do you have an example of their efforts to take back their religion and stop the terrorists ??? How about an example of a Muslim country sending disaster aid to a non-muslim country. Maybe an example of Muslims convicting a muslim of terror acts against non-muslims. Of course not... it doesn't happen, they are all complicit.
Would YOU speak up in a country with a repressive government? One which might very well imprison you for doing so?
The article is spot-on. All of the people I know who are leaving Christianity are doing so primarily because of the hate and division that it promotes. It's not just Muslims that fundamental Christians hate. They also hate gays and any other segment of society that doesn't live in accord with their belief system. Unfortunately, they are behaving exactly like the religious fanatics that they oppose. There is no doubt that Muslims who interpret their faith literally from the text of the Koran can be seriously dangerous to those who don't follow that faith. But in the same token, a strict literal interpretation of the Bible is no less bloody or dangerous. And yet, we don't hold Christians responsible for that literal interpretation of their own holy book. There are too many people who, because of their fear, are unable to separate those Muslims who follow peaceful Islam with those who are religious terrorists. It seems that hatred in society always comes down to religion.
I am unaware of any urging by Christ recorded in the Bible teaching to use violence in bringing souls to him.
Why is it when Tom does something wrong, it's Tom's fault, but when Mohammad does something wrong it's all the Muslim's fault?
Because there were mass riots burning and killings , when it's not an isolated incident anymore it means there is something wrong with those people as a whole
Killing is wrong, but why is it my fault as a Muslim? Are you responsible for Timothy Mcveigh's actions?
@human being: McVeigh was tried and executed for his actions by his fellow Americans. Do you have an example of a terrorist being tried and executed for a terror act against non-muslims ?
Nobody is personally guilty unless he comitted the crime but the religion allows and calls for violence (jihad for ex.) and that is wrong therefore the religion as a whole should change there are too many radicals that use it as a mean for violence
QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS: And I have many!! It is said that there are 1 to 1.5 Billion muslims!? Also that it is only a FEW that are extremeists, "terrorists". IF this is the case then WHY are the MANY letting the FEW lead them? IF the few are perverting Islam, the Qur'an, and using it for their OWN agenda, then WHY are the many not screaming, yelling, demonstrating that the actions of these few do not represent the true muslim or its religion? WHY are their religious "leaders" SILENT on condemning these acts of killing and terror? Fatwas are nothing more than "suggestions/decisions, made BUT are NOT mandatory to follow! WHY is it that jihads can be made so quickly, YET the MANY, cannot make a jihad on those that are the "extremists terrorists"? WHY is it that muslims have NO control over themselves, and that when someone disagrees with them or their religion, their ONLY reaction is to kill, destroy? YES, I agree that the attack in Lybia was NOT due to the "movie"! But it is the result of what we are seeing done today! This nut
job that made this "movie?" should be put on trial and locked up!! BUT rest assured that the "do gooder" groups will jump all over it as his right to "free speech". For ME, there is NO difference between this person and those that preach to kill, men, women & children, and destroy ALL (US) the infidels!
Good points. They all claim it's some minority radicals but in Egypt they got rid of a dictator and elected by democratic vote a radical Islamic party, the Muslim Brotherhood
Phobia is a "perceived" threat. The threat of Islam is very REAL. Blaming non-muslims for the problems caused by muslims is absurd.
Islam has been trying to destroy Christians, jews and all other religions since 630 AD. European Christian kingdoms under Charles Martel stopped the muslim forces under Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi from sweeping through europe. The rise of modern Islam is the same struggle. It is made possible now by western money flowing into a previously forgotten and backwards part of the world due to oil. The muslims still want to conquer the earth and establish Sharia law for all people.
C-Martel- Fact Check
Christians occupied North and South America and there were 50 million Indians who lived their own way and believed in their own religion. What happened to them you think under the Christian rule??
If Muslim Ottomans, who Occupied Eastern Europe for 500 years, did he same thing as their Christian Western counterparts in America there would be no Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Serbia. Do you get it?
Islamaphobia? Maybe people should wake up and stop putting their heads in the sand for a change. Problem is not with those outside of Islam the problem is Islam and their hate and despise of the rest of the world. All this talk about it is only a small minority? If that were true the vast Majority would put this small fraction in its place but they don't they justify the action of this so called minority and allow it to grow. The problem is with Islam
What I find humurous from Christians is they don't want to accept Islam as being true but still can't grasp that their own religion is every bit as rediculous. We are still a number of generations away from it, but some day, religions will all be just another footnpte in human history, but will no longer be practiced. Until then, they must be tolerated.
Nobody claimed it was ridiculous, people claim it's violent.
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.