Monday, October 9, 2006


STOKING DISCORD. I'm grieved as I continue to hear Muslim bashing by American Christians and those presumed to be/passed off as Christians who spout their self-righteous vitriol on TV and radio airwaves day by day. They are offended (or pretend to be) that some Muslim people--extremists, they call them--are offended by the casual, careless, insensitive, and intentionally inflammatory (in some cases) references to the Prophet Mohammed. They can't figure out (or pretend they can't) why some followers of Islam areexorcisedized by a little teasing about their faith's founder. They're incredulous (or so they seem) that some Muslims take exception to the characterization by Christian writers of their faith as inherently violent. And, instead of making even a symbolic effort to grasp the implications of making light of Mohammad, these people stoke discord and hatred disguised as smugness of moral superiority and preservation of freedom of speech.

WHAT ARE WE DOING TO THEM? It occurred to me today that those who either bash Muslims or give mild assent to those who bash Muslims or the Islamic faith are not reflecting the instruction of Jesus Christ or Biblical Christianity. Jesus said, in one of his more basic and globally applicable imperatives: "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Would we want to have people of Islamic faith caricaturizing Jesus Christ for political advantage or popular humor? And even if they did so, would that make it permissible, wise, or godly to return the insult? Clearly, not. Those who are disciples of Jesus Christ distinguish themselves by their attempt to reflect the spirit, words, and actions of Jesus instead of echoing those who try to pass themselves off as influential Christian leaders and advisors to the President.

YOUR MOSQUE, MY CHURCH. Several years ago (several years before 9/11), I attended a mosque in the Kansas City area for noon prayers as a guest. I was moved both by the apparent fervency of the faith of these Islamists and by the intensity with which their local imam spoke against the United States of America and Christians. I tried to reason with him after the prayers. The imam was courteous to me, but passed his preaching off as harmless. I disagreed, saying that if people took him seriously it could have dire consequences over time. I asked him to find justification for his words in the Koran (there isn't). I also told the imam that that if he attended my church as a guest, he would never hear that kind of diabribe or negative inferences to his faith.

TIME FOR REPENTANCE AND RECONCILIATION. I am afraid, however, that the imam might hear quite negative things about his faith from some church pulpits, classrooms and coffee hours today. Certainly, he can hear such from Christian and American news media. By some tragically-flawed twist of logic, some ministers and laity have decided that the Muslim faith itself is the problem inherent in 9/11. And they have chosen their own set of fear-borne reactions and theological paths in a "post-9/11 world" (I will have something to say about this phrase and concept later!), regardless of Jesus' clear instructions. But the fact that some Christians and so-called Christians have chosen to lash out at the Muslim faith does not make such words and posturing Christian at all. They are wrong and they are, according the the letter and spirit of the Word of God, sinning. It's time for those who are authentically Christian to recognize sewing discord, suspicion, fear, and hatred for what it is, confess it, repent of it, and begin a new way of thinking, speaking, planning, and reconciling--regardless of what those in the Muslim faith say or do.

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