America’s Islamophobia Is Forged at the Pulpit

gettyimages-97549379-1The first time I remember hearing Islam equated with terrorism from the pulpit, I was a 17-year-old junior at Heritage Christian School in Indianapolis, where my mom was—still is, in fact—an elementary teacher. It was 1998, long before Islamophobia seized the Western mainstream. My family attended a small, nondenominational evangelical church in the suburb of Carmel, where my dad was the music pastor.

“A good Muslim,” our head pastor, Marcus Warner, intoned that Sunday morning, “should want to kill Christians and Jews.” He insisted that this was the only conclusion possible from a serious reading of the Quran. As a doubting young evangelical who would later become an agnostic, this extreme statement made me uncomfortable even then. Today, in the wake of the shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, it should be considered every bit as offensive as the worst anti-Semitic tropes .

But a harsh double standard has been in effect, as the brouhaha over the comments by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) proved. The United States recognizes anti-Semitism for the poison it is, and polices—at least on the left—even accidental falling into its tropes. But the religiously inspired Islamophobia I grew up with continues to shape Washington’s foreign policy—and Islamophobic statements too often pass without criticism in the public sphere.

To be sure, the statements about Israel by Omar, one of the first two Muslim women ever elected to U.S. Congress, did conjure up anti-Semitic tropes. In a recent op-ed in the Washington Post, she chose her words more carefully, avoiding the rhetoric of “allegiance” that rightly caused many to criticize her language. Some of that criticism, however, was not only made in bad faith—it was shaped by the very Islamophobia that darkly mirrors anti-Semitism.

FULL ARTICLE FROM FOREIGN POLICY 

Controversy over Wheaton professor’s hijab captures evangelical rift in new film

16mag-16hawkins-t_CA1-facebookJumbo(RNS) — Larycia Hawkins never questioned what she should do.

It was days after the 2015 San Bernardino shooting, in which 14 people were killed at a center for people with developmental disabilities. Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump seized upon the religion of the two shooters and declared he’d ban all Muslims from entering the country, and Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. encouraged students at his evangelical Christian school to get concealed-carry permits because “good people” with guns could “end those Muslims.”


So Hawkins — then a political science professor at Wheaton College, an evangelical school in the Chicago suburbs — posted a photo on Facebook of herself in a hijab and announced plans to wear it through the Christian season of Advent as an act of “embodied solidarity” with Muslim women.

“I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God,” she wrote.

The pushback was immediate. Within a few months, the first black, female tenured professor at Wheaton had lost her job.

Hawkins’ story is detailed in “Same God,” a documentary that premiered late last month at the LA Film Festival.

To filmmaker Linda Midgett, responses to the professor’s act revealed the polarization within both evangelical Christianity and the country as a whole.

The documentary tells Hawkins’ story through interviews with student and faculty supporters who were at Wheaton at the time and with the interfaith leaders who rallied to her side. Several more screenings are planned, including showings this month in New Orleans and Chicago.

So far, audiences’ reactions show the importance of Hawkins’ story and its resonance beyond Wheaton, Midgett said.

“In some ways, I felt like she got her voice back,” she said, “because she lost her voice when she lost her job and she just was kind of shuttled out of the evangelical community.”

What happened at Wheaton was the perfect storm, according to the filmmaker, touching on hot-button issues of theology, race, gender, academic freedom, religious freedom, Islamophobia. Some evangelicals thought that Hawkins was a heretic. Others believed she was doing the things Jesus had told his followers to do.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION NEWS SERVICE 

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 

MAJORITY OF U.S. MUSLIMS NOW SUPPORT GAY MARRIAGE, WHILE WHITE EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS REMAIN OPPOSED

Woman carrying a sign that reads, "Queer, Muslim and Proud" marches during the Gay Pride parade in TorontoOpposition to same-sex marriage has decreased across a broad swath of religious groups in the United States, with white evangelical Christians one of the few movements for which a majority remains in opposition. Three years on from the Supreme Court ruling that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, the findings from the Public Religion Research Institute’s 2017 American Values Atlas, published Tuesday, showed growing support for LGBT rights, including a majority of U.S. Muslims backing same-sex marriage for the first time.

Muslims, by a margin of 51 percent to 34 percent, favor same-sex marriage, compared to just four years ago when a majority, 51 percent, were opposed. There were similar results for black Protestants, with 54 percent opposing gay marriage in PRRI’s 2014 American Values Atlas, compared with 43 percent in the latest findings.

Indeed, opposition to same-sex marriage is now limited almost entirely to white conservative Christians. Fifty-eight percent of white evangelical Christians and 53 percent of Mormons—an overwhelming majority of whom are white—are opposed to allowing gay couples to marry. The group with the most opposition, though, is Jehovah’s Witnesses, a group which is 36 percent white, 32 percent Hispanic and 27 percent black in the U.S. Just 13 percent support the law.

FULL ARTICLE FROM NEWSWEEK 

Scotland’s Evangelical Island Gets Its First Mosque

81854Despite its size and location, the Isle of Lewis off the northwest coast of Scotland occasionally makes national news in the United Kingdom because of its conservative religious practices—including the strict observance of the Sabbath by many on the island.

 Lewis was the site of the UK’s last great revival—beginning in 1949 and carrying on for three years—and remains one of the most devout parts of the country.

Over the years, there have been controversies relating to the operation of ferries to the mainland on Sundays. More recently, a movie theater has opened seven days a week, while a leisure center maintains its Sunday closure. All have drawn media coverage with quotes from Christian spokespeople reported as being “outraged” by the proposals.

The latest twist in religious affairs has occurred in Stornoway, with 8,000 people the largest town in the group of islands. However, it doesn’t involve Christians outraged about Sunday openings, but that a Free Church of Scotland minister was not outraged by plans to build the first mosque on the largely evangelical churchgoing island.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIANITY TODAY 

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

From Fuller Seminary’s reflections on Christian-Muslim relations

barbary_pirates

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

 

 

 

Jewish and evangelical Americans are divided over plan to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

nikkiThe United Nations General Assembly isn’t alone in its lack of support for the Trump administration’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

On Thursday, the body overwhelmingly rejected the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The move is a rebuke of the administration’s decision that many have warned could undermine the peace negotiations Trump promised during his presidential campaign.

But some of the most vocal critics are closer to the issue.

Only 16 percent of Jewish Americans support moving the embassy to Jerusalem immediately, according to AJC’s 2017 Survey of American Jewish Opinion. Slightly more than a third — 36 percent — favor moving it “at a later date in conjunction with progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.” But a plurality — 44 percent — disagree with moving the embassy all together.

Nearly 170 Jewish studies scholars from American colleges and universities signed a statement expressing “dismay” at Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital:

“Jerusalem is of immense religious and thus emotional significance to Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike. It is the focus of national aspirations for both Israelis and Palestinians. We hope one day to see a world in which all inhabitants of the land enjoy equal access to the city’s cultural and material resources. Today, unfortunately, that is not the case.

A declaration from the United States government that appears to endorse sole Jewish proprietorship over Jerusalem adds insult to ongoing injury and is practically guaranteed to fan the flames of violence. We therefore call on the U.S. government to take immediate steps to de-escalate the tensions resulting from the President’s declaration and to clarify Palestinians’ legitimate stake in the future of Jerusalem.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST