Since the 45th President of the United States took office last January, the social, economic, and cultural landscape of the U.S. has shifted. For the average American, these changes are not terribly pronounced. Sure, their taxes may go up or down a little, and they may not be able to afford health care, but for the stereotypical white, red-blooded American, there is no worry of physical safety nor cultural belonging. This is not the case for many Muslims living in the United States under reign of President Trump.
Islam is the most feared and misunderstood religion in America. Despite notions of American diversity, Americans are grossly intolerant of Islam.
For many years after 9/11 the villain in action movies were Islamic terrorists. The film and television industry capitalizes on popular opinion when selecting the archetypal “bad guy” for the silver screen. These days the villains tend to be Russian or vaguely North Korean, again reflecting the zeitgeist of American mob mentality. Perhaps the term “American” here is disingenuous and I should be more specific. A Pew Research Center survey found, in 2017, that Republicans, white evangelicals, and those with less education are much more likely to express reservations about Muslims and Islam than any other group of Americans. On their “feeling thermometer” from zero to one-hundred where absolute zero indicates the most negative possible rating and one hundred the highest possible favor rating. The average Democrats rated Islam at 56 while Republicans and those leaning towards the Republican party came in at a cool 39. 63 percent of Republican respondents believe that Islam incites violence while only 26 percent of Democrats agreed with that statement. Additionally, Republicans also are more likely than Democrats to say that Islam is not part of mainstream American society (68 percent vs. 37 percent) and that there is a natural conflict between Islam and democracy (65 percent vs. 30 percent) according to Pew Research Center.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE SPECTATOR
Apparently, 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
The following is a downloadable pdf study guide produced by the Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Institute. Please download it for yourself or use it as a study guide for small groups. A vitally important initiative for our perilous times. It is also available as a Kindle download here.
(from the introduction to the guide):
As an introduction to the Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Initiative and these study materials, participants are invited to go to the AFPI website to hear the stories of members of the organization as they share their commitment to interfaith dialogue and peacemaking, http://abrahamicfaithspeacemaking.com.
We live in a world where examples of religious pluralism abound in local communities everywhere. Porous world boundaries due to globalization, immigration, technology, and transportation have produced a climate where religious understanding-and misunderstanding-lies at the heart of local, national, and global issues. Increasingly, we find ourselves having to learn about the differences among religious traditions in order to articulate the nature of current events. Few remain unaware of the realities of individual and communal religious violence in our society. Discussions about the current American religious landscape often ignore one salient fact: that the Abrahamic religions and cultures have been deeply intertwined and intricately related from their inception. After the 1965 Immigration Act, other religions, such as those with origins in Asia, have been steadily growing in their number of adherents in the United States. Places of worship for Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and other religious traditions are part of the religious landscape of nearly all communities across the United States. Los Angeles is considered the most diverse Buddhist city in the world. In states like California, there is no majority race, ethnicity, or religion. Similar demographic shifts, while uneven across the United States, will occur often in the next fifty years, and are no longer confined to the coastal cities more often associated with religious diversity.
FULL ARTICLE FROM ABRAHAMIC FAITHS PEACEMAKING INSTITUTE
Neither the Bible nor the Qur’an (Koran) has a lot to say about homosexuality, and what they do say relates only indirectly to contemporary discussions about gay rights and same-sex marriage. Like pre-modern scholars of law and ethics, these books assume heteronormativity.
As a concept, homosexuality is relatively recent, even if there is plenty of evidence for homoerotic pleasure in the past – albeit illicit in religious terms.
Scriptures and later writers usually referred only to particular sexual acts and did not raise the issue of personal sexual orientation. For religious conservatives, though, both Muslim and Christian, the occasional derogatory reference to same-sex acts is enough to prove their inherent sinfulness in all circumstances.
More liberal interpreters point to broader ethical considerations such as compassion and empathy. They argue that the condemnations of scripture do not apply to committed relationships founded on love.
Such a perspective, however, is inevitably more common among believers concerned with human rights, influenced by gender theory, and trained in contextual and holistic methods of interpretation.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CONVERSATION
The Interfaith Community of Chattanooga hosted a 50-minute service at the UTC Student Center this afternoon, highlighted by a speech from Mark Siljander.
Siljander, a former U.S. representative and United Nations ambassador, shared his story of coming to learn about the Muslim faith. He said he began his political career as an outspoken proponent of Christianity while at the same time loathing the teachings of Islam.
However, Siljander said, he did not actually know much about the faith until he studied it for himself. He learned that his religion and that of Muslims was not that different, and he hoped to build bridges between the two communities.
He said an earnest attempt to narrow the gap between the two faiths helped solve problems among foreign nations during his political career.
He urged those in attendance to use the July 16 shooting last year to form a closer bond between local Christians and Muslims.
“We want to change the world by changing our own lives first,” he said.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE TIMES FREE PRESS
by Julia Ioffe
The world’s oldest religions all have troubling histories of bloodshed. Singling out Islam is just Trump’s latest, hateful hypocrisy.
Angel with a gun
Speaking after “appreciating the congrats” on the Orlando shootings, Donald Trump again insisted that what mowed people down at Pulse was not an assault rifle but radical Islam, because in Trump Tower, it cannot be both. Trump’s world is binary. It is zero-sum: Either guns kill people or radical Islam kills people. In that world, only one religion can be bad, and so Christianity is good and Islam is bad. Christianity is peaceful and Islam violent. Christianity is tolerant and Islam intolerant. Both are inherently one thing or the other, immutable blueprints etched in stone for the behavior of their respective adherents.
This is a worldview that is shared by people who are Trump supporters and not Trump supporters. In the secular vernacular, we might call this view “Manichean,” that is, a binary between light and darkness, good and evil.
But it’s worth noting that “Manichean” was originally used to describe a religion that spread from Persia to the eastern and northern African parts of the Roman Empire in the third century, one that influenced many early Christians. If the word “Manichean” has negative connotations today, it might be because it was deemed a heresy by the early Catholic Church, one that needed to be ruthlessly rooted out of the Christian universe. And I mean ruthlessly: Adherents of a Manichean-tinged Christianity had their goods confiscated and were put to death, even if they converted to proper Christianity but still kept in touch with their Manichean contacts. Even St. Augustine called for their energetic persecution.
The video above depicts the growth and spread of the world’s two largest religions over a span of 2,000 years. Represented in white and green, respectively, Christianity and Islam spring up from obscurity in the Middle East to morph into globe-spanning juggernauts.
It was produced last year by the Western Conservatory of the Arts and Sciences, a rather grandiosely named Christian ministry based in Tennessee, as an accompaniment to a supposedly historically accurate map that depicts the “Spread of the Gospel.” A note on the ministry’s website cites biblical scripture, pitching the map as a “beautiful visual reminder that ‘the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world … is bearing fruit and increasing.’ ”
[The long history of Muslims and Christians killing people together]
Real historians will doubtless find plenty to quibble about with the broad sweep of the canvas that this video represents. And, to be sure, this ministry doesn’t exactly have an objective approach to the history of Islam — in another post on its website, it looks forward to Syrian refugees being disabused of their “Muhammedan way of life.”
The video begins with the Roman empire and shows Christianity sprouting up on its margins, then spreading elsewhere. Islam follows suit a bit later, moving rapidly through the crumbling Byzantine and Sassanian empires, through North Africa and into parts of Europe. They both inexorably expand thereafter.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST