Why Baptists Should Support Muslims’ Right to Build Mosques

Stand Up for Religious Freedom RallyColonial Baptists’ fight for religious freedom applies equally to Muslims in America today. As previously noted by Paul Crookston at National Review Online (in “Religious Freedom for Me but Not for Thee?”), it is a mistake for Baptists, such as megachurch pastors Dean Haun and Mike Buster, to abandon the cause of religious liberty being led by Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). This is not only because the amicus brief signed onto by the ERLC was both legally sound and ultimately successful, but because the history of Baptists in America demands it. It was not so long ago that Baptists were “the Muslims” fighting for the right to construct their own houses of worship.

Moore received mixed responses last summer when he agreed with the ERLC’s position and publicly defended the religious rights of Muslims to construct mosques in the United States. Some at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) called for the firing of any SBC official who supported the rights of Muslims to build mosques, and they recommended the removal of the ERLC’s name from the amicus brief. Some even went so far as to posit that Muslims do not deserve the same religious freedoms as Christians. Even though the U.S. district court of New Jersey has since ruled in favor of the mosque’s construction in Bernards Township, some corners of the SBC have continued to criticize Moore and the ERLC. Those Baptists continuing to oppose Moore should take

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NATIONAL REVIEW 

Interfaith Healer: The Surprising Role of Jesus in Islam

51nMpVg+XhL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_How did a Jewish preacher who became the Christian Messiah also become one of the most admired figures in the Quran? Mustafa Akyol, a Turkish journalist and contributing opinion writer for The International New York Times, sets out to explore this apparent conundrum.

The result will come as something of a revelation to many non-Muslim readers, since Jesus is revered in Islam’s sacred text as a great teacher and prophet, while his mother, Mary, gets more ink — and praise — than in all four New Testament Gospels put together.

If the Quran’s portrayal of Jesus is familiar in outline, however, its details are sometimes not, especially to Western Christians used to a single canonical version. The Quran is more ecumenical, dipping into the rich mélange of Middle Eastern traditions contained in the apocryphal and “gnostic” gospels and still very much alive in the popular lore of Eastern Christianity. It shows Jesus making clay birds and then breathing life into them, for instance, or Mary giving birth not in a Bethlehem stable with Joseph in attendance but alone under a palm tree, deep in the desert.

Akyol makes good use of both canonical and noncanonical sources, tracing where and why the Islamic approach agrees with Christian tradition (yes to Jesus as the messenger, prophet, word and spirit of God), and where it disagrees (no to the Resurrection, and no to divinity). Along the way, he ups the ante by finding what he calls “astonishing” parallels between the Quran and early Christian texts, though such astonishment seems unnecessary to this reader. Given the fertile interchange of ideas and lore in the multiethnic Byzantine Middle East, such parallels were not only likely, but even inevitable.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES 

American Muslims Are Young, Politically Liberal, and Scared

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Muslims may be the religious group that’s most talked about and least understood in the U.S. President Trump has put Islam at the center of his policymaking, making shaky claims about how assimilated Muslims are into American life. And yet, in part because the group is so small, actual data about their religiosity, political leanings, and engagement with American culture is relatively scarce.

A new survey from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, or ISPU, offers a rare look at this changing community. The report covers interviews with nearly 2,400 American residents from diverse religious backgrounds, including roughly 800 Muslims. The data suggest that this rapidly growing group is strongly shaped by a few factors. U.S. Muslims are younger and more liberal than their neighbors. They tend to be fairly religious. And they are extremely anxious about what’s happening in America.

Over the past decade, the Muslim community has grown significantly. According to the Pew Research Center, their share of the U.S. population more than doubled between 2007 and 2014. The group now makes up roughly 1 percent of the populace.

Muslim identity has evolved along with their population size. George W. Bush-era conventional wisdom held that Muslims were a natural constituency for the Republican Party. By the 2016 election, that had radically changed: ISPU found that only 15 percent of Muslims in their survey wanted Trump to win over Hillary Clinton in November, including those who are not eligible to vote.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE ATLANTIC 

Attorney with interfaith background counters myths about Islam

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GREENFIELD — Springfield lawyer Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, her head covered in a pink scarf, told a gathering of nearly 60 students and community members last week that as someone whose Lutheran and Baptist parents converted to Islam when she was a toddler, she has Christian grandparents and “was always in an interfaith setting,” including Jews in her extended family.

“We have the whole Abrahamic thing going on in our family. It was such a non-thing for me,” Amatul-Wadud told attendees of the hour-long program Thursday on “debunking common myths about Islam.”

Amatul-Wadud, who moved to Springfield from New York when she was 10 and graduated from Elms College and Western New England University, said that while she’s not a religious scholar, she’s been comfortable with interfaith dialogue for her entire life. It wasn’t until about 18 months ago that she began speaking at colleges and universities, as “an uptick” in rhetoric, as well as violence, was occurring against Muslims in this country.

“We live in this bubble and we don’t know each other,” said Amatul-Wadud, who recently helped defend a Muslim community against a planned 2015 attack by a Tennessee man convicted in February by a federal jury for threatening to burn down a mosque. “That’s not how we should exist.”

Explaining that Islam is a religion that incorporates early Jewish and Christian history, she said, “Sixty percent of Americans say they don’t know a Muslim, yet Muslims are probably the most vilified group in the past political election and definitely have been subject of some really interesting policy making post-election. Yet we don’t know what each other believes.”

Amatul-Wadud said Muslim, Christian and Jewish religions have ancient covenants with one another, promising “to always have each other’s back, to always protect each other during exercise of their religion.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE RECORDER 

Feminist beauty on display: The IARS Women’s Invitational Exhibition 2017

My mother used to say “History is rarely made without uppity women”, and I think Shafaq Ahmad of Texas would agree with her completely.

Shafaq Ahmad is IARS (Islamic Art Revival Series) Art Director and Exhibition Curator for this year’s Women’s Invitational.  The Islamic Art Revival Series was started by Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation (“Muslim Women for All Women”), founded in 2005 to strengthen families of all faiths by fostering volunteerism, education, and cultural understanding through interfaith outreach.

Two considerations were vital to Director Shafaq as she selected the ten women to participate in this year’s invitational – each woman had to be a consummate art professional in her own right, and each woman was required to be a first generation immigrant to the United States.

From the Exhibition website:

This exhibition will focus on the art of these women artists who create work which not only reflects the strong bond to their own heritage but the experience of living in the USA, their new permanent home, and how this experience has influenced the work they are presenting now.

One of the truly remarkable women in Islamic history is the wife of the Prophet, Khadija bint Khuwaylid.  A true self-made success, she was well-educated, resourceful, and astonishingly successful in a time and place where all the cards had been stacked against her; she was so trusted by God and the Prophet she even became the first scribe of the Qur’an and holds the title “Mother of the Believers”.  A pillar of faithfulness, strength, courage, and all the very best aspects of feminism, her example remains applicable even to today.

FULL ARTICLE FROM ISMAILI MAIL 

Why Islam Overtaking Christianity is Good for Christians

14359962849_1440794a9b_cApparently, Pew Research projects that Islam will overtake Christianity as the world’s largest religion by the year 2070.  This projection is based mainly on birth rates – Muslim women have more children than other religious groups, at 3.1 per woman for Muslims versus 2.3 for others.  In addition, the average age for Muslims is seven years younger – 23 – than other religious groups.

Naturally, many American Christians, especially conservative-evangelical types, are terrified.  Many already hold persecution complexes, and this knowledge seems to vindicate their xenophobic fear that “they” are taking over (even though by the time Islam becomes the world’s largest religion, Muslims will still only make up about 2% of the US population).

Reactionary violence aside (and no matter what happens, reactionary Christians gonna react), this impending de-throning of Christianity as the world’s largest religion is the best thing to happen to Christianity since the Reformation.  Finally, at long last, Christians will have to wake up.

No more can we rest on our laurels, assured that we’ve somehow “won” the game of religion.  No longer can Christian spiritual arrogance and chauvinism stand when Christians are a minority.

It will no longer be enough that we have converted the most people, or hoarded the most wealth.  Churches will no longer be able to fall back on the argumentum ad populum.

FULL ARITLCE FROM PATHEOS

Want to build interfaith friendships? Here’s how music can help

1817616SALT LAKE CITY — The sounds of booming drums, clapping hands, a South Indian flute and an ancient horn filled the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Sunday evening, as performers of all ages shared the music of their faiths.

“Sacred Music Evening 2017” showcased the talents of 10 religious ensembles, including Buddhist dancers, gospel singers and Sufi whirling dervishes. The groups took turns entertaining a joyous crowd before artists and attendees alike joined their voices to sing “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

 “With God, our creator, family all are we. Let us walk with each other in perfect harmony,” they sang.

The annual event, which began 15 years ago as a way to celebrate the religions represented at the 2002 Winter Olympics, brings together music lovers from Utah’s faith communities, highlighting shared values through lively songs, dances and spoken words. This year’s performers included representatives from more than a dozen congregations in the Salt Lake Valley.

Music is a powerful tool in efforts to build interfaith bonds, noted Roberta King, author of “(un)Common Sounds: Songs of Peace and Reconciliation among Muslims and Christians.” People may come to a concert feeling awkward or anxious, but soon enough they’ll be swaying and singing along.

“Music engages us almost immediately at the emotional level,” she said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DESERET NEWS