Young Evangelicals Are Rejecting the Islamophobia of Their Elders

Barna Research Group recently reported that evangelical Christians are less likely than most to have friends of other religious beliefs. A whopping 91 percent of evangelicals said that their current friends are “mostly similar” to them when it comes to religious beliefs. However, this statistic wasn’t broken down by age or generation, which is critical to understanding how American evangelicals are changing.

Pew Research found that the younger an evangelical is, the more progressive they will likely be on a number of issues. Public Religion Research Institute discovered that younger white evangelicals (ages 18-39) are far more likely to say that American Muslims are an important part of the religious community in the U.S., and that they are comfortable with public displays of Muslim culture and religious expression, than those ages 40 and up.

We launched our organization, Neighborly Faith, when we were graduate students at Wheaton College in 2015. We were there during the saga between Wheaton College administration and Dr. Larycia Hawkins, and when Wheaton students penned an open letter in the Washington Post, condemning Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr.’s inflammatory remarks about Muslims after the San Bernardino shootings. We saw a growing crop of evangelical college students who wanted to love their Muslim neighbors as themselves, but who were getting little guidance on how to do so from their elders.

We have also been inspired by the work of Fuller Theological Seminary professor Matthew Kaemingk, who has traveled to evangelical collegesacross the U.S. to encourage a posture of hospitality toward Muslim immigrants. There are also 2018 books like Islam in North America:Loving Our Muslim Neighbors by Micah Fries and Keith Whitfield and The Dignity Revolution by Daniel Darling, each authored by evangelical thought leaders who are active in the lives of college students.

FULL ARTICLE FROM SOJOURNERS MAGAZINE

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Christians are hospitable because Jesus is Lord

0802874584An evangelical case for pluralism

If you were looking for an argument for welcoming strangers of another language, religion, and race, you probably wouldn’t seek it from an American evangelical Christian. But that is precisely what Matthew Kaemingk gives us in his startling new book. Given the political harm American evangelicals have recently wrought in the world, it is thrilling to find this counternarrative.

The background of the book is familiar: while political correctness demands that people speak no ill of cultural newcomers, frustration and resistance to this stance erupts in xenophobic vitriol. But Kaemingk isn’t writing about Latino immigration to the United States. His topic is Muslim immigration to the Netherlands, rooted in his doctoral research in Amsterdam. The Dutch, proud of their reputation for being liberal and inclusive, run face-first into the conservative Islam adhered to by immigrants in ways that are both nationally traumatic (as in the 2004 assassination of filmmaker and critic of Islam Theo van Gogh) and quotidian (hijabs on the streets of Amsterdam).

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

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 

 

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 

A God by Any Other Name: Evangelicals and Allah, Part 1

islam-christianityby John Hubers

Part 1:  Setting the Parameters

This is the first part of a four part series exploring the question “Do Christians and Muslims Worship the same God?” in its historical context among evangelical Christians.  It will be presented as a series on this page. 

From the Urban Dictionary (http://www.urbandictionary.com/)
meme    mēm     noun
2 : a pervasive thought or thought pattern that replicates itself via cultural means

The Allah Meme

One of the memes that has recently rooted itself deeply in the consciousness of some American Christians, particularly those who come from the more conservative side of the evangelical tradition, is the confident assertion that Muslims worship a different god from the Christian God.  This is more than saying that we have different conceptions of God.  This is a blunt and often combative claim that we are, in fact, talking about two entirely different divine entities.  Billy Graham’s son, Franklin, who heads up the diaconal ministry Samaritan’s Purse, has been most strident in his public statements to this effect reaching back to the time just after 9/11.  He first did so in an address he gave at the dedication of a North Carolina church that was quoted by an NBC Nightly news segment (as well as nearly every news source in the Muslim majority world)  just two months after the 9/11 tragedy.

            The God of Islam is not the same God. He’s not the son of God of the Christian or Judeo- Christian faith. It’s a different God, and I believe it [Islam] is a very evil and wicked   religion.[1]

 Graham is not alone in this perception.  It has, in fact, become a kind of theological maxim among more conservative groups, particularly after 9/11.[2]

I discovered this in a personal way when I was approached about becoming full time pulpit supply at a conservative church in a Chicago suburb during the years I was doing my PhD studies.  I had first been invited to preach a sermon in this church about Christian-Muslim relations that was well received, enough so that the consistory decided to invite me to preach on a full time basis as they carried on a search for a permanent pastor.  But it wasn’t an open invitation. I was first asked to justify the assumption some heard in my sermon that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.  They were correct in what they heard as this has been an assumption of mine  since the onset of my years of missionary service in the Muslim majority world, just as it was the assumption made by every other missionary I have ever known in that part of the world, evangelical or otherwise.  But at this traditional Christian Reformed Church such a belief was considered suspect, perhaps even bordering on heresy.   So before I was given the invitation I was first required to write a paper giving justification to that assumption for the consistory to review.  I must have made a good case, as I got the invitation and it was never mentioned again.

What I discovered in this incident was the weight of this particular meme – strong enough that in certain circles it has become a kind of litmus test for evangelical orthodoxy.   And while it should be said at the outset that there is a legitimate theological discussion to be had around the question posed by this meme – “do Muslims and Christians worship the same God” – the challenge it poses is related less to the way it answers this question than to its operative force as a test of evangelical orthodoxy.  Simply put those who hold it are suspect of those who don’t. That is the nature of a meme – the confidence with which it perpetuates itself as a kind of foundational truism for those who become its proponents. In this case, however, more is at stake than personal opinion as the tenacity with which it is held can have the effect of endangering the sensitive incarnational witness those of us who teach missions are trying to inculcate in our students.

FULL ARTICLE FROM ECCLESIO.COM