The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto tweeted a link to this story on the CNN belief blog that literally (a la Joe Biden—which means figuratively) blew my mind.
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.
I was raised as an evangelical Christian in America too. And based upon the author, Brian D. McLaren’s picture, my “raising” was quite a bit more recent than his. I must confess that the pastors, both youth and senior, did a terrible job of instilling Islamaphobia in me. There were no more than zero sermons warning me about Muslims. I went to a Muslim Friday service once when I was in college and felt no phobia whatsoever from that encounter. The only thing I found odd was the microphone in the middle of the room. It wasn’t until the service was over that I figured out that it was so the women in the other room could hear what was being said.
So, crummy greenhouse.
What really awakened my own Islamaphobia was this:
Maybe I’m just a crazy bigot, but that really sent a message.
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.
Wow!? Really? So, at a time when you’re beating your wife so bad that she’s had to be taken to the emergency room, she’s bought a gun to protect herself and is hiding in a local women’s shelter, we really need to talk about how she’s a crummy cook and poor housekeeper. Are you completely nuts?
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.”
Wow, your relatives we snookered by a false report. That’s probably because there are so many accurate ones. And they were encouraged to pray. Horror! You sure there wasn’t a note in there to burn down a mosque or something? Rip up a Koran? Prayer?
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.
And that’s probably a big part of the heart of it. Not stocking your books any more, huh?
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.
And those Islamaphobic preachers here in America have succeeded in causing the killings how many Muslims in the 11 years since 9/11/2001?
Whereas those “irresponsible Muslim media outlets” have scored a much higher death toll—many of them Muslims.
And you want to highlight a big problem with evangelicals?
You can read the rest of it, but with a misdiagnosis so severe, his cure is less than useless.
On the other hand, I have something I’d like you to do: Don’t kill Muslims because they’re Muslim. Don’t burn a Koran. Don’t burn down a mosque.
You weren’t planning on doing any of those things?