What if that coach praying on the football field is Muslim?

Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an evangelical Christian football coach in Bremerton, Wash. had the right to pray on the field after games. So what if the coach had been Muslim or Jewish, instead? That’s what the social-media influencer and former pro basketball player Rex Chapman asked, in a tweet that went crazy-viral right after the decision was handed down. The blogosphere lit up with predictably polarized responses: liberals said a Muslim prayer would never be allowed, and conservatives insisted that it would. I’m not sure, myself. But here’s what I do know: We need a non-Christian to test these waters, as soon as possible, so we find out what each side of the prayer battle truly believes.

Start with conservatives, who said they were shocked — shocked! — that anyone would question their commitment to religious freedom for all worshipers, Muslims included. “So, wait — do these people actually think Sam Alito and Amy Coney Barrett would hate the idea of Muslim coaches praying on their own after a football game?” asked Washington Examiner columnist Timothy P. Carney.

He’s right, about the conservative judges. Indeed, Justice Neil Gorsuch’s majority opinion, which Alito and Barrett joined, worried that if the Bremerton football coach was barred from praying, “a school could fire a Muslim teacher for wearing a headscarf.” I’m confident that these judges would uphold the right of that same teacher to roll out a prayer rug on the 50-yard-line and bow to Mecca after the game.

But it’s reasonable to ask how many other Republicans would. Remember, this is the same party that sponsored 120 bills in 42 state legislatures aimed at preventing the entirely invented threat of Islamic Sharia law. It’s the same party that led efforts to block the construction or expansion of mosques in over 50 different instances.

Republicans have pressed school boards to alter history textbooks that supposedly whitewash jihad — that is, Islamic religious war — and make students “susceptible to becoming terrorists,” as activists in Florida charged in 2011.


Study document on antisemitism, Islamophobia advances

The report is billed as a practical guide to repairing relationships with Jews and Muslims.

Moderator Frances Lin (standing) speaks with resource staff for the Ecumenical and Interfaith Engagement Committee. Photo by Gregg Brekke for Presbyterian Outlook.

Louisville, Kentucky – The Ecumenical and Interfaith Engagement Committee of the 225th General Assembly today recommended that the assembly receive a study document denouncing antisemitism and Islamophobia and distribute it throughout the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for “study and reflection.” The vote was 25-2.

The study document – which is not PC(USA) policy – “is designed as a practical guide to repairing our relationships with Jews and Muslims,” said Whitney Wilkinson Arreche, a member of the denomination’s Committee on Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations (CEIR).

“We address antisemitism and Islamophobia in a single document,” Wilkinson Arreche continued, “because of our singular commitment to repent of and make repair for harm we have caused both communities.”

The study document builds on the “Interreligious Stance” adopted by the 2014 General Assembly, which states that “many things draw us together in respect for those who have religious commitments different from our own, including the example and person of Jesus Christ, the evident need for religious peace, the necessity of meeting human needs in a world of poverty or want, and the biblical call to solidarity amid our diversity.”

Antisemitism “exists on multiple levels,” the study document states, “ranging from consistent, low-level aggression and negative stereotyping, to significant acts of violence against Jews, their religious communities, and their property.” All of these forms of antisemitism are on the rise, the document asserts, fueled in part by White supremacy. “Addressing the long history of antisemitism, and our current complicity in it,” the document continues, “requires study, confession and repentance.”

The document includes two definitions of antisemitism – from the 2021 “Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism” developed by a group of scholars in Jewish, Holocaust, Israel, Palestine and Middle East studies; and from the Anti-Defamation League.


On abortion, Muslim Americans say Islamic history is ‘on the side of mercy’

(RNS) — To Eman Abdelhadi, getting an abortion was the most sensible thing to do. She was six weeks pregnant and a graduate student who wasn’t financially ready to have a child. She felt no shame or guilt going through with it.

“I had no qualms about it. I grew up in an environment and a religious tradition that sees my life as the most important thing,” said Abdelhadi, a professor at the University of Chicago who was raised in a Muslim household. “It felt very clear to me. There was never anything like, ‘You did something unethical.’”

Abdelhadi, whose mother was a gynecologist in Egypt, grew up with the idea that abortion was a “nonsensical thing to legislate” and that legalizing it was necessary to prevent people from seeking other, potentially dangerous means of terminating pregnancies.

Islamic law is flexible, Abdelhadi said, and when it comes to making a decision about abortion, “people will consult with their families, their religious leaders, and then they’ll ultimately make a decision for themselves.”

“You’ll do what feels right,” she said.

As the United States Supreme Court appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, Muslim Americans are gearing up for what the landmark reversal could mean for their communities.


Interfaith Explainer: The Difference Between Intrafaith, Interfaith, Multifaith and Interspirituality

  • Intrafaith, interfaith, multifaith and interspirituality are words that mean very different things. Yet, they are sometimes used interchangeably and without distinction. The following definitions should help people discern and understand the differences.

Intrafaith = Within

When someone proposes an intrafaith conversation, it means a conversation within a specific faith or religion, for instance, Christians speaking with Christians from other denominations. Also known as ecumenical, these interactions can be critical for social cohesion, as exemplified by interactions between Evangelicals and Catholics, Sunni and Shia Muslims, Orthodox and cultural Jews, and many more.

Interfaith = Between/Among

Interfaith refers to relations between faiths, spiritual paths, or even worldviews. It does not have to be restricted to religion alone because one way to define faith is as “complete trust, confidence or strong belief in someone or something.”

Interfaith work is usually about improving relations between people of different faiths, but it can also revolve around working with people of other faiths. For example, many interfaith organizations—some of whom started as ecumenical organizations—pool their resources and help those who need food and housing.

Interfaith has nothing to do with uniformity, conformity, or sacrificing one’s beliefs. The goal of most interfaith work is to foster harmonious diversityThe Parliament of the World’s Religions is a fantastic example.


The centrality of the Muslim world to Shakespeare’s work

Ignored for centuries, the presence of Muslims are prominent in the oeuvre of one of Britain’s most quintessential figures.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616), England’s most famous playwright and symbol of Britishness, was closely connected to the Islamic world through his extensive body of beloved work.

“Without Islam, there would be no Shakespeare,” Mathew Dimmock, Professor of Early Modern Studies (English) at the University of Sussex, matter-of-factly states.

“Without Tudor and Jacobean England’s rich and complex engagement with Islamic cultures, the plays written by William Shakespeare would be very different, if they existed at all,” Dimmock told TRT World.

Due to Queen Elizabeth I’s political and trade alliances with the Muslim world, in particular the Ottoman Empire and the Moroccan Kingdom, the influence of Muslim culture on England was immense and this penetrated into literature and theatre.


With Ms. Marvel, Disney+ Gives Us a Muslim Superhero. Great! But …

Kamala Khan is just an ordinary teen with an extraordinary twist.

Is it her powers? Her ability to stretch or create matter out of thin air? Nah. We’re talking about Marvel, after all. You can’t throw a rock in Times Square in the Marvel Cinematic Universe without hitting a superpowered individual. And given that Kamala is the protagonist of an MCU show called Ms. Marvel, well, the biggest twist would be if she didn’t have superpowers.

No, what makes Kamala Khan (played by Iman Vellani) truly special in Marvel’s ever-growing entertainment universe, is her faith. She’s a Muslim.

Her beliefs add a lot to Ms. Marvel, a miniseries that landed on Disney+ June 8. Kamala’s Islamic faith, and those of her family, add texture and humanity and, sometimes, even humor to the story. And in an odd sort of way, Kamala’s religion makes her more relatable to Christians who might be watching. Because while Islamic and Christian belief systems may be quite different, both types of adherents are balancing their devotion with the day-to-day realities and temptations of life. Living in faith is hard, and the pain points feel similar.

Kamala, like many a teen growing up in a conservative Christian household, treats her faith as a bit of an afterthought in Ms. Marvel. Yeah, sure, it’s important. It’s part of who she is. But she’s got grades and boys and family issues to deal with—not to mention these new superpowers. She goes to the mosque, but she’s almost always late. Her conservative mom can drive her a little bit crazy: Kamala would very much like to dress as Captain Marvel for something called “AvengersCon,” but Mom isn’t having it.

“You’re not going to dress like all those other girls in those skimpy outfits,” mother Muneeba tells her. “That is not you.”


Most American Muslims believe gun laws need to be stricter, says survey

Most American Muslims believe gun control laws should be stricter, a new report by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (Ispu) has found.

According to the poll, 65 percent of Muslim respondents believe existing gun control laws need to be stricter, slightly higher than the 64 percent of Jews and Catholics that were polled.

Muslims are more likely than Protestants (54 percent), white Evangelicals (30 percent), and the general public (57 percent) to hold this view.

According to the survey, white Muslims were more likely than white Americans in the general public to believe gun laws should be stricter. But Black Muslims were more likely than Black Americans to believe laws covering the sale of firearms should be less strict.

The report, which will be released in full in August, comes just two weeks after 21 people, mostly children, were killed in a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

According to data from the Washington Post, more than 311,000 children in America have experienced gun violence in school since the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School. In that same period, 185 were killed and 369 were injured.

“All Americans are unfortunately impacted by gun violence, directly or indirectly. As our local, state and national leadership work to find effective solutions, public opinion is critical to understand,” Meira Neggaz, Ispu’s executive director, told Middle East Eye.

“Our work researching American Muslim opinions, in comparison to other groups in the country’s faith landscape, uncovers that most groups and the majority of Americans are aligned in their concern about the current state of gun laws.”

to gun safety laws that we have seen in decades.”


Minnesota Muslims find safe place to recover from alcohol addiction: the mosque

Munira Maalimisaq was a nursing student when a volunteer stint at a detox center opened her eyes to alcohol abuse among Somali community members

In the midst of her struggle with alcoholism, a local 20-year-old Somali woman didn’t know where to find help. She was overwhelmed with guilt while attending mosque for religious observances.

“That’s a feeling you tend to feel when you’re in a situation that you shouldn’t be in,” said the woman, who asked not to be named because of the stigma that substance abuse carries in the Muslim community.

Alcohol abuse carries stigma in practically all communities. But for many Muslims, that is often magnified because Islam prohibits alcohol consumption of any kind.

The same place that caused the woman deep shame later offered her a lifeline. She noticed a group of people meeting in the mosque regularly to support each other. Soon, she was attending the weekly meetings and sharing her own experiences with alcoholism.

“I was a little hesitant at first, but I knew I was in a situation I didn’t want to be in anymore,” she said.

Those meetings were founded four years ago by Munira Maalimisaq. Maalimisaq stumbled upon the unusual concept of bringing substance-abuse treatment to mosques while studying for her nursing degree at Metro State University.

Today, the Muslim support groups draw more than 60 attendees who meet in two groups at two Twin Cities-area mosques.


Why a Presbyterian Elder Defended Muslims Building a Mosque in Middle Tennessee

Eric Treene has gone to court to defend Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, and people from other minority faiths for more than 25 years. If you ask him why, he points to the Bible and the Westminster Confession. Treene, an elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, is motivated by his faith to defend religious freedom—especially the freedom of those he disagrees with.

Treene was a lawyer for Becket and then, for nearly 20 years, special counsel for religious discrimination in the civil rights division of the United States Department of Justice. He developed and oversaw the enforcement program for the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). Since leaving the federal government, Treene has taught the First Amendment at Reformed Theological Seminary and Catholic University and continues to litigate discrimination cases as a senior partner at Storzer and Associates in Washington, DC. This spring, Treene was honored by the Freedom Forum as a “champion of free expression.”

He spoke to CT about the problem of religious discrimination in America and why it’s so important that Christians advocate for religious freedom.

You’ve spent a lot of your career defending religious land use. Why do government officials in America today oppose religious land use?

Usually it’s because they’re zeroed in on developing commerce. A lot of what you see is the demands of the marketplace steamrolling religion.

One of my early cases, for example, was a church that had very carefully gathered several plots of land at a key intersection, but the town wanted Costco to have that spot. The town tried to use eminent domain to seize the property to build a Costco.

Is it because they hate churches? No. Again and again, what we see is discrimination against places of worship not so much out of animus but because they would rather have a commercial property that’s generating tax revenue.

There’s a very powerful economic engine in our society that often trivializes faith. The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) is one way churches can push back against that.


Does defending Muhammad mean killing Christians?

A.S. Ibrahim | The death of a college student in Nigeria is the most recent example

Deborah Samuel Yakubu, a Christian student at the Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto, Nigeria, was beaten to death last month by a group of Muslim students after they accused her of blasphemy against Muhammad.

The Guardian reports that an angry mob considered Yakubu’s comments on social media insulting to Islam’s prophet. After they declared her blasphemous, a group of zealots dragged her from her home and assaulted her. They threw her on the floor, stoned her to death, and burned her body.

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and is roughly divided into a majority Christian south and a Muslim north. Yakubu’s murder occurred in northwestern Nigeria.

The Guardian’s report lacks important details from eyewitnesses. Yakubu was a member of the Evangelical Church Winning All. According to David Ayuba Azzaman, senior pastor at The King Worship Chapel in Kaduna, there was no insult against Muhammad, but Yakubu “turned down a Muslim proposal to date her” and that led to the man accusing her of insulting Muhammad.

The Guardian also inaccurately claimed that attacks like this one are “very rare.” According to Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List report, Nigeria is at the top of the list of countries where Christians are killed for their faith, with 13 martyrs a day. The number went from 3,530 murdered Christians in 2020 to 4,650 in 2021. The report ranks Nigeria as one of the most violent countries, where Christians are kidnapped in droves, with the number going up from 990 in 2020 to 2,500 in 2021.

Following Yakubu’s murder, the police arrested two Muslim students. However, hundreds of Muslim youth gathered, took to Sokoto’s streets, lit fires, demanded the release of the two Muslims, and attempted to loot shops belonging to Christian residents.

The incident is heartbreaking. While it clearly shows the rule of the mob in some Muslim-majority lands and how it threatens Christian lives, it also conveys the fragility of Islam when it comes to questioning Muhammad, his character, and teachings.

There is no real evidence that Yakubu insulted Muhammad. The evidence instead indicates she was unjustly and brutally murdered. However, the horrific incident reflects a problem unique to Islam. It highlights how some Muslims react violently to any claims against Muhammad.