In TIME Magazine’s most recent article “Is America Islamophobic?”, the writer highlights that deep seeded hatred and antagonism towards the Muslim people and their religion is prevalent and growing in America, as witnessed by the protest and outrages in lieu of the proposed plan to build a mosque near the site of where the Twin Towers used to be. However, as I continued reading, I could not help but see how confused the writer’s was when discerning between the ignorance and hatred Americans have towards Muslims and Christians’ hatred and ignorance towards Muslims.
And quite frankly, I couldn’t either.
Franklin Graham, who I have the utmost respect for as a laborer in the kingdom of God, states that Islam is “a religion of hatred. It’s a religion of war.” Pastors are threatening to burn copies of the Qur’an on the anniversary of 9/11 because Jesus would burn them because they aren’t holy. Compare these statements with signs and posters that Americans, who I know not are claiming to be Christian or not, have written on them: “Islam is the BP of religion”, “No memorial for Terrorists!”, and “Islam = hate, Islam = terror”.
And as the article sought to address the question of whether Americans are Islamophobic, so to speak, I began to question in my own heart: Are we as Christians Islamophobic?
And when I attach -phobic on there, what I mean is irrational hatred. When I say phobic I mean, simliar to being homophobic and being racist, disqualifying ourselves from being a witness of Jesus Christ because of a false sense of superiority. When I say phobic I mean painting certain persons with a broad brush of ignorance. When I say phobic I mean regarding Muslims in both private and public settings in a way that dishonors the humility of Jesus Christ.
And if what I’m saying is true, and this is the way we perceive Muslims, then we are not imitating our Lord in our attitudes and thoughts towards the Muslim people.
And when I start speaking about my thoughts about Islam, please keep some considerations in mind about where I’m coming from. This is not an appeal for religious and ideological tolerance. This is not a false understanding that all the followers of Islam are 100% peaceful or 100% violent, for I do not think that is relevant to the discussion as Christians. This is a not a folding under pressure to being political correct. This is not a way to make Christians more appealing and likable- on a hundred million accounts we (including I) have already failed at giving a good perception of Jesus Christ.
This is, however, an appeal for humble Christ-likeness.
This is an appeal for Christians to remember that we do not advance the kingdom of God by secular political means, demonstrations of hatred and ignorance, and poster signs with incendiary comments. This is an appeal for Christians to realize that our witness is demolished when leaders of the church scream at Muslims walking on the street that “Islam is a lie!”.
Did I say that Islam is true? No, as a matter of fact I didn’t. And I still don’t think it is.
But truth was never meant to be shoved down someone’s throat. And we cannot proclaim the gospel to people who we honestly hate. Either we love them, and then share the gospel with them. Or, for the love of God, don’t say the gospel at all because we’re not living it when we hate our neighbors.
Let me ask us this- when we first met Christ, did He first come to us with a sword?
No, he probably didn’t.
Then why should we, as Christ’s ambassadors, go to the Muslim people with one? In our words and in our attitudes towards them?
Again, this is an appeal to see whether we are governed by the love and humility of Jesus bearing witness to the gospel that can save the Muslims or are we governed by our sense of self-righteousness and our need to condemn others for our own security. If we really loved our Muslim friends who don’t know Jesus, then there are certain things we don’t say and do regarding Muslims. Yet from witnessing how pastors, leaders, laypersons who bear the name of Jesus have acted towards these people, I am almost convinced that we don’t love them.
That we are, indeed, Islamophobic, just as TIME Magazine suspects of us.