Wednesday, September 19, 2012

To My American Friends...

In light of the recent events involving protests within Muslim majority countries, including my recent host of Indonesia, I wanted to present some of my thoughts.

If you reply, I ask that you do so in the comments section on this blog entry rather than through Facebook, twitter, or other platform on which you have found this entry linked.  I'd like all comments to remain in one place.

Allow this phrase of St. Francis' famed prayer to be a guide: "Grant that I might not so much seek to be ... understood as to understand."

We as Americans, especially those who claim to be Christians, should be slow to rush into judgement of the events that have been occurring.  We often make judgements based upon our own cultural, historic, political, and religious biases without first seeking to understand.
Many Americans are so quick to rush to judgment and ranting about the "uncivilized" members of the "alleged peaceful" Islamic faith rioting in the streets of their homelands, threatening American (and other Western nations') embassies, consulates, and businesses.  Yet these Americans are so quick to forget such expressions of discontent, often conducted by Christians, within our country's history: Bacon's Rebellion, Paxton Boys Riot, Shays' Rebellion, Whiskey Rebellion, a Civil War, Homestead Riot, etc. "But those were in our past" some might scoff...and the riots at the 1968 Democratic convention, the 1992 riots in the wake of the "Rodney King" trial in Los Angeles, allegations of violent outbreaks at each Tea Party and "Occupy" rallies of the last couple of years.  Have we Christians forgotten the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:3?

Please don't misunderstand me.  I'm not providing a justification for the current streak of violence or saying that it is acceptable.  I am just asking for some perspective and for an attempt at understanding.

Additionally, while we as Christians in the United States may express our indignation in other ways, we too are apt to become highly offended when we experience an affront to our faith.  Waves of online protest and church sermons flooded out in response to Dan Brown's best selling novel, The Da Vinci Code, especially after it was turned in a movie starring Tom Hanks.  My own Senior Pastor felt the need to have a special sermon series on "blasphemous" topics raised within the book.  There is also wide spread outrage regarding issues pertaining to homosexuality and the church, especially regarding marriage and ordination of clergy; and this isn't even an issue upon which the entirety of Christianity can agree in that some denominations are ordaining homosexual clergy members and performing "gay" marriages.

Finally, don't lump all Muslims into the category of "terrorist" because of the actions of a few (in comparison to the total Islamic population, those performing such radical acts of violence are, indeed, a few).  Just as there are so many variations within the larger Christian umbrella, there are also wide-spread variations within Islam.  I had wonderful experiences and made some special friends with the Muslim teachers, administrators, and students who I meet in Indonesia this past July.  I wouldn't trade that experience for anything.

Having presented my thoughts, I invite you to respond in a respectful manner (even if you disagree).  Also, please visit my similar post titled "To My Indonesian Friends...".


  1. The citation of the various rebellions and riots in US history are poor analogies to thhe current Muslim protests (or, instead of "protests" we can safely call them violent outbursts). The rebellions and riots you've mentioned weren't caused because someone was "offended" by something as trivial as a cartoon or a movie - they were isntituted for political motives.

    Although I see what you're trying to do - remind Americans that we can all be violent - it doesn't fit here. Imagine the modern US trying to keep peace with a bordering country filled with 14th century Christians - that is more along the lines of what we're seeing. 14th century Christians were bloodthirsty and perfectly willing to rationalize killing each other for "apostasy," "heresy," and "blasphemy."

    The world shouldn't have to restrict criticism or parody because a violent and easily offended religion burns its neighborhoods every time a picture is shown.

    We won't even address the horrible human rights violations of countries such as Indonesia and Saudi Arabia - directly related to the religion of Islam.

    We mustn't forget that what is happening IS condoned by the Qur'an, the Hadith, and the clerics. These "offenses" will continue to get worse until we can't even talk about Muhammad lest we have a riot. It's absurd.

  2. To Mr./Mrs./Ms./Miss Anonymous:

    Each of the events I noted (not all politically motivated) resulted when people felt that something had occured which was a direct attack at something of extreme value to them: land, money, property, civil rights, social justice, etc. The current protests in Muslim majority countries IS much the same, faith is of extreme value and ridicule of faith can legitimately be viewed as an attack.

    Thank you for proving my point about rushing into judgement without truly seeking any form of understanding of someone from another cultural background. Wanting to sluff off the rationale for these protests (the video produced in the U.S. and then a comic produced in France) as "trivial" shows that you are approaching the situation with nothing more than your preconcieved biases. What you might hold as deeply valuable others may deem as "trivial".

    No where did I ask that criticism be restricted nor that parody be restrained. I simply asked for allow yourself to get out of your bubble and try to see something from another's view. Not to agree with, not to sympothize with, but to recognize that not all will agree with you.

    And I can't "forget" that which I don't know to be true. You claim that what is happening is condoned by the Qur'an and yet provide no citation to a Sura to support your claim. But I am sure that if you did it would be the selection of a passage without using it context as many are apt to do with the Bible (both pro- and anti- Christian).

    I appreciate greatly your boldness in replying and yet such boldness is brought into question through your anonymity.

  3. To all: for your reading pleasure I'd like to recommend a book titled "Why Muslims Rebel: Repression and Resistance in the Islamic World" by Mohammed M. Hafez. While having a 2003 copyright it is still very apropos.