Three Evangelicals Walk into a Muslim Convention

20180902_113913By Kevin Singer, Chris Stackaruk, and Usra Ghazi

This wasn’t the first time Evangelical leaders participated in the largest annual gathering of Muslims in the United States. The Islamic Society of North America Annual Convention has for many years included panel sessions, discussions and even celebratory events on interfaith relations with religiously diverse leaders. Perhaps because of the unique relationship between the current U.S. presidential administration and Evangelical leaders, and because of a heightened political climate of partisan and ideological divides, this was the first ISNA convention to feature multiple conversations about bridging these divides and a majority Evangelical panel, live recorded for a predominantly Christian podcast audience.

Neighborly Faith is an organization that seeks to help Evangelicals become better neighbors to people of other faiths. On September 6, 2018 Neighborly Faith partnered with America Indivisible, a national organization that addresses anti-Muslim bigotry by strengthening neighborly ties, to make the case for better Muslim-Evangelical relations directly to Muslims in Houston and Evangelical podcast listeners all over the country.

The panel, titled “Reaching Persuadable Americans: Why Engaging Conservatives Matters,” featured Neighborly Faith co-hosts Kevin Singer and Chris Stackaruk, Texas megachurch Pastor Bob Roberts Jr., president of Islamic Relief USA Anwar Khan, and Dalia Mogahed, director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. What was especially intriguing were the questions and comments during the Q&A. They provide a window into what everyday Muslim Americans are concerned about when it comes to their relationships with Evangelicals and conservatives. As we shuffled through the question cards, we noticed a couple of themes emerge.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE ISLAMIC MONTHLY 

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Why evangelical Christians — and all of us — should stand up for the Uighurs

331b7617872b4c5386079e26a2eda7da_18(RNS) — I am a Baptist minister, church planter and an evangelical Christian.

And I am worried about religious freedom for billions of people around the world.

In nations from Afghanistan to Vietnam, religious people are being threatened, jailed, banned or otherwise restricted from practicing their religion, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Perhaps nowhere in the world is this seen more than in China.

Recently, tens of thousands of Uighur Muslims have been put in re-education camps. They’ve seen their places of worship and their way of life being destroyed by a government that sees them as a threat. “We’re a people destroyed,” one Uighur man told The Guardian recently.

The Xinjiang province, where many Uighurs live, is being turned into a “police state,” USCIRF said earlier this year.

“By installing Communist Party cadres in Uighur homes and detaining countless innocent Uighurs in extrajudicial ‘re-education camps,’ the Chinese government has created a culture of fear, suspicion, and mistrust throughout Xinjiang,” USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark said.

Some of my evangelical friends see this news and are unconcerned. Instead, they ask, “What about Christians in China? Aren’t they being persecuted?”

Yes, Christians in China suffer and have suffered religious persecution for decades in China and other nations. But so have other religious traditions.

In China, right now, no faith group is facing more persecution than the Uighur Muslims.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION NEWS

Nearly 1-in-5 Americans would deny Muslim American citizens the right to vote, new report finds

safe_imageCurrent public perceptions of American Muslims are distinctly unfavorable.

That’s according to multiple surveys from the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group, including the 2017 Views of the Electoral Research (VOTER) Survey, which assessed viewpoints of 5,000 Americans, all of whom had been previously surveyed in 2011, 2012 and 2016.

» RELATED: Muslims in America, by the numbers

The Democracy Fund Voter Study Group is a collaboration of nearly two dozen analysts and scholars from across the political spectrum.

In the group’s new “Muslims in America: Public Perceptions in the Trump Era” report published in June, researchers found that on average, Americans believe that only 51 percent of Muslim Americans respect American ideals and laws.

Nearly one-in-five Americans would even deny Muslims who are U.S. citizens the right to vote.

Stereotyping is strongly related to cultural conservatism and views were even more polarized among those favorable to President Donald Trump, the report found. For example, Democrats believe that a majority of Muslims (67 percent) wanted to fit in, yet Republicans believed only 36 percent did. And when comparing Muslims and Christians, Democrats evaluated Muslims slightly more favorably than Christians (+15 vs +11), whereas Republicans evaluated them much less favorably (-4 vs +24).

The gap between average ratings of Muslims and Christians among Trump supporters: -10 vs +25.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AJC.COM

Muslims like me don’t have theological beef with evangelicals. It’s the prejudice against us that’s the problem.

1728056Last month, my wife and I joined a small group of Muslims and thousands of Christians at the annual March for Life in Washington to call for an end to what we believe is the unjust murder of unborn children in America. My wife’s hijab attracted interest, but we didn’t feel out of place among marchers, many of whom were white evangelicals.

Despite our deep theological differences on other issues, we were at home in the company of fellow believers.

Yet, the Muslim presence at the March is perennially small, even insignificant. In fact, Muslims also decline to join forces with conservative Christians on other traditional social causes such as opposing same-sex marriage.

While research suggests that American Muslims overall are significantly more liberal than white evangelical Protestants, there remains a significant pool of conservative Muslims who in a parallel universe would consider evangelicals their natural allies.

That parallel universe could have existed if the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, hadn’t unleashed a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment. Without that, many Muslims would make common cause with evangelicals, something I hope is beginning to happen in America.

The absence of American Muslims from the social conservative space is a result in large part not of theology but of mistrust and even animosity between them and evangelical Christians. When I told a Muslim friend I was meeting with evangelical leaders to get ideas for greater Muslim participation in the March for Life, he asked incredulously, “Why would you talk to Islamophobes?”

His reaction was understandable. There is a widespread sense in the American Muslim community that American foreign policy is influenced by evangelical antipathy toward Islam, as in the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. A 2017 poll from the Pew Research Center found that two-thirds of white Evangelicals believe that Islam is not part of mainstream American society. Such views manifest in diverse ways, as in opposition to mosque-building in local communities, anti-Muslim screeds on social media and bans on travel from Muslim countries.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

American Evangelical Islamophobia: A History of Continuity with a Hope for Change

From Fuller Seminary’s reflections on Christian-Muslim relations

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Colonial Americans had no idea that many of the slaves on their shores were actually Muslims. The famous Boston pastor Cotton Mather once quipped, “we are afar off, in a Land, which never had (that ever heard of) one Mahometan breathing in it.”2 Yet they felt themselves to be knowledgeable about Islam through the proliferation of sermons and books on that topic. The other source was the reality of Americans, along with Europeans, who were enslaved by the “Barbary Pirates” of North Africa.3 Already in the 1670s, several stories of North American captives caught the attention of the colonists, but especially that of the appointed royal governor of Carolina, who was abducted in 1679 and later freed by ransom. His narrative has only survived in fragments, but what stands out is “the cruelties of the Muslims” and the power of his prayers, which also influenced his captors.4

Captivity stories from North Africa were so common that many beggars on the streets of colonial America claimed to have been captured by the Barbary pirates, hoping to elicit more sympathy. Yet these stories also fueled a longstanding industry within Christendom including polemical writings about Muslims and Islam. One particularly influential book, Humphrey Prideaux’s, The True Nature of Imposture Fully Displayed in the Life of Mahomet, was published in London in 1697, with seven subsequent editions. Years later, American editions appeared in Philadelphia (1796) and Fairhaven, Vermont (1798), no doubt connected to the nascent U.S. government’s troubles with the Barbary powers at that time.5

We know that Prideaux’s book was widely read in the American colonies, because from the early 18th century on, and for the first time, Muhammad’s name in print rarely appeared without the epithet “impostor.” Prideaux’s message was hardly new, but this Anglican theologian’s main target was the Deists, whose central critique of Christianity was that it was fraudulent. By holding up Islam as a plain case of religious forgery, he hoped to defend Christianity’s integrity. From the start he anticipates accusations of demonizing Islam, but he promises to “approach Islam judiciously.”6 That said, he had little first-hand knowledge, and what he did think he knew was often wrong—but wrote he did, and people on both sides of the Atlantic absorbed it as truth.

FULL ARTICLE FROM FULLER STUDIO

 

 

 

Most White Evangelicals Don’t Believe Muslims Belong in America

77985As much of American society undergoes a secular shift, most Muslims and Christians continue to attend worship, adhere to tenets of their traditions, and proudly identify with their faiths.

 But despite this shared sense of religious devotion, as detailed in a new Pew Research Center report on what US Muslims believe and practice, survey data also show a huge gap in their perceptions of each other.

While Americans overall have warmed up to Muslims in recent years, white evangelicals express more concerns about US Muslims than any other religious group. Two-thirds of white evangelicals believe Islam is not part of mainstream American society and contend that it encourages violence more than other faiths, according to Pew.

Meanwhile, 72 percent of white evangelicals—compared to 44 percent of Americans overall—see a natural conflict between Islam and democracy. And 30 percent of Muslims themselves agree that the two are in conflict.

A small minority of Americans (6%) and Muslims (5%) attribute the tension to the belief that America is a Christian nation.

As CT reported in March, missions experts worry that evangelicals’ views of Muslims are sabotaging a long-dreamed-of moment. Previous research by Pew found that only 35 percent of white evangelicals say they have a personal connection to a Muslim, compared to about 40 percent of mainline Protestants and Catholics, 50 percent of unaffiliated Americans, and 73 percent of Jews.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIANITY TODAY 

Conservative Christians are divided on Trump’s stance on refugees — but they can be convinced

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After President Donald Trump announced that all refugee admissions would be paused for 120 days, a strange thing happened. A series of religious organizations issued stern denunciations: A Lutheran group headlined its press release indicating that it “denounces” the Trump administration’s actions; a Catholic group expressed “solidarity” with Muslims and “deep concern” over religious freedom for all groups; more than 2,000 religious leaders signed a letter “opposing” the executive order.

These groups and others like them have two things in common: They have explicitly Christian, denominationally tied missions, and they have recognition by the State Department as voluntary organizations that support refugee resettlement. This is not merely a reaction of the Christian left: Groups like the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services have board members from traditionally more liberal denominations, like the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, as well as more conservative ones, like the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is as avowedly pro-life as it is pro-refugee. Refugee resettlement and welcoming has been a core part of organized Christianity’s moral mission for as long as we’ve been receiving refugees.

Throughout the American Christian (and especially conservative) world, the refugee ban has created a unique fissure, apart from other concerns that many individuals have over the visa ban or other components of the now-infamous executive order. I’ve spoken with fellow believers of many denominations in positions high and low and find that even many people who voted for President Trump and who continue to support him find their conscience troubled by this specific question of refugee admission. Coming, as it did, as we wait to see if we will get another pro-life Supreme Court Justice confirmed, the refugee ban leaves many social conservatives in a painful situation: What do we make of this would-be-King Cyrus? What if he delivers us victory for one key moral priority (abortion), while handing us unprecedented defeat on the other (refugees)? What if we escape Babylon, many of us are wondering, only to find ourselves still exiles?

FULL ARTICLE FROM SALON