And the insanity continues

All American Muslim logoWhile not surprised, I’m deeply saddened and angry this morning about two dimensions of the same evil being perpetuated in the name of God in the U.S. Both mask the ugly underbelly of the Evangelical Christian church in America, where good intentions (I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt) produce very unChristlike behavior.

The first is the belief that Mormonism is a cult and that Mitt Romney – simply because he’s a Mormon – isn’t fit to be President of the United States. As a guy who used to be in the thick of this activist and evangelical stuff, I can testify with certainty that this IS the belief of the Christian right. Newt is a good guy and Mitt is an evil guy, because, well, he’s part of that *gestures with elbow* cult. This is a pathetic and self-serving myth that perpetuates the mockery of all people of faith and further alienates the right from the mainstream. Ironically, this is precisely where they want to be, because a persecuted faithful is a literal promise of the Bible, from their perspective. What bothers me most here is that Christian leaders don’t speak out against this, and so it is beamed abroad as representative of Christianity in the U.S.

The second issue that’s really bugging me is the treatment of a bridge-building television program on The Learning Channel – All American Muslim – by these same Evangelical Christians. I’ll spare a rant on the details, because you’re already aware of them, except to say that this Florida Family Association speaks only for a highly ignorant, hateful and bigoted fringe, and yet – due to the same silence from Christian leadership – it, too, is beamed abroad as representative of the whole. By remaining silent, all of us give up the right to criticize Islamic leaders for not speaking out against those who use terror and murder to preach their own form of hatred and bigotry.

To my beloved Muslim family in Jordan, forgive us for not speaking out. This is NOT the stuff of everyday Americans. It is the rantings of lunatics who exploit fear in the name of self-promotion through a media system that feeds on controversy. It is also demonstrative of the impotence of a once-proud religion that is so divided that it allows lame self-promoters an unchallenged platform to preach their own self-righteousness and their hated for the rest of the human race. May God have mercy on their souls.

Comments

  1. don’t sweat it terry.

    ignorance runs far deeper than religion- i just overheard this “if those bleeding-heart liberals have their way, barack obama will cancel the fifth amendment and take away our guns”.

    i kid you not.

    and the group of 5 or 6 sitting with him didn’t even call him on it.

  2. Mormonism definitely has some issues, but sort of in the same way that Kennedy did with Catholicism. In fact, Gallup did a study recently that showed that the reticence to vote for a Mormon (at least those who acknowledged they had some) is very similar to how people felt about Catholicism in 1959.
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/148100/Hesitant-Support-Mormon-2012.aspx

    But I don’t doubt that more people, especially on the right, are holding Romney’s Mormonism against him. Most of the time their reasons aren’t valid: they have misconceptions about Mormonism “versus” Christianity (there’s no doubt Mormons should be considered Christian) or about polygamy. But sometimes they can see some of the disturbing aspects of the church: it’s very strict rule over all of its members, its issues in the past with racism and the present with sexism, its unwillingness to ever admit it has made mistakes, etc. But then again, what church hasn’t had these issues? Plus, there are some very positive aspects to the church, such their tiered community structure that relies less on individual pastors and more on what they believe (even if that can sometimes be dictated by the elite old guys in charge).

    But if anything, it’s a quadruple-edged sword (er, you get the point, or you will hopefully.) The poll also showed that Democrats are even less likely to vote for a Mormon. That shouldn’t be surprising, because Gallup has previously found that Mormons are the most conservative religious group in this country. But it does mean that we’re all guilty at times of making presumptions and ruling people out because of their faith. Of course, the poll has also found repeatedly that the most distrusted groups are gay, lesbian, and nonreligious Americans.

    Just some thoughts on the issue.
    -BC

  3. Dear Terry,

    Regardless of a person’s (personal) religous label there is only one way to be made right with God. The world hates hearing that – “they hated Jesus without cause”. None of us have a righteousness of our own and the only way we will get one equal to God’s is if it is given to us, “That I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ — the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” (Phillipians 3:9). God has provided only one way for that righteouness to be imputed to all mankind and thats though apersonal faith in Jesus Christ the Son of God, not Jesus Christ the nice carpenter and good teacher. God saves us by faith for mainly three reasons. (1). Faith openes the door to every single human being on earth — anyone can believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ no matter what their mental capacity. (2). Faith eliminates works — so that no man can boast (Eph 2:9). (3). Your faith says “I believe your testimony about your Son,” so, since your faith honors God he honors your faith and saves you. (1 John 5:9-13).

    Thanks for your time,
    Larry

  4. Larry,

    I know and have known many highly sincere people who believe as you do. The need to evangelize is a two-fold exercise. One, it’s a heartfelt concern for the other person’s well-being. I get that. Two, it’s a duty that protects one’s own butt from eternal hell fire and damnation. I get that, too. No self-respecting Evangelical Christian would want to stand before God on the judgement day and answer why he or she failed to “tell that man the truth,” when the opportunity was there. Who wants that blood on their hands, right?

    I heard that same line in an identical session in my son-in-law’s family room in Amman, Jordan with a professor of Islamic studies from the university. He, too, evangelized me out of a heartfelt concern and a sense of duty. Like you, he believes deeply in what he believes. Evangelism is, therefore, a very human practice – not a spiritual one, for if it were, the message would be universal and one directional. In each evangelical case, a book is used to validate the authenticity of the message. Whose book is the right one? I have feelings about that, but the honest response is I don’t and can’t know for sure. Neither can you, Larry, and while you justify your presumptuousness by the self-serving qualifier that “the world hates hearing that,” the truth is it’s just presumption.

    The fundamental problem with religion today is its narrow-mindedness. It helped build societies before we had the knowledge and ability to think for ourselves, but it’s place in our culture is increasingly destructive. It’s going to lead us to war (again), something certain fundamentalist Christians, fundamentalist Jews, certain fundamentalist Islamists and others seem to welcome.

    So believe as you wish, but let me believe as I wish, too. Unfortunately, Evangelical Christians simply cannot seem to do that.

    Thanks for leaving your thoughts,

    I invite any of my family abroad to chime in as well.

    Terry

  5. Nicole Alhakawati says:

    Terry,
    Thanks for your wise thoughts on the All American Muslim situation. I am a good friend of your daughter and I am glad to see that some Christian Americans can see through the rhetoric and view the program for what it is: a small example of a small group of American Muslims and how they live. They do not represent Islam as a whole and they don’t represent the practice of all American Muslims. They are who they are. It amazes me that the far right was so disappointed that most Muslims are not sitting around the television or fireplace plotting against the US government after dinner. There are very few people doing that, and many of them may not even be Muslim. There is hatred in all people and Muslims shouldn’t be singled out as the ‘evil’ race or religion. Christian groups who are spouting hatred in the media are doing more harm to our nation than these so called ‘terrorists.’ God protect us all and guide us on His path.

  6. Mr. Heaton,
    I am a friend of your daughters and I respect her a lot. The subject of bigotry has a long history as you know. And you seem to be a man of integrity and are not biased towards anything/anyone so I am happy to comment on this. I am not one to attack individuals personally, not to say that I have never because as human beings we all have our issues but nevertheless, ideas and beliefs of people become fair game so long as the individual himself/herself is not attacked. When I say fair game I mean an intellectual debate that is free of petty and juvenile name calling rather an all out open debate and discussion of ideologies. The actions that they have undertaken shows that their beliefs lack conviction and are illogical on the sole basis that they have taken action to have a group of people condemned on a false basis. Previous information shows that they will probably not change their stance so I think that the only thing people can continue doing is just being themselves and over time the truth will prevail I guess. Your son in laws attempts with you show great love and respect on his part towards you so you can say thats a compliment 🙂 I don’t wish to wax eloquent as my point was addressed but rather use this opportunity to point out that although I am a Muslim and I may speak about Islam, my goal is not to “convert” people rather show them the joy, comfort, and peace that I experience. History has shown in many occasions that the duration that the Christians lived under Muslim rule, they were treated with much respect, given their rights to practice their religion, and it was made sure that no one insulted them. Thank you for this opportunity. Wish you the best.
    -Aya Kayed

  7. This post is very interesting… I usually get into religion-related discussions but never argue, for I never know whom I would offend 🙂 ….
    But I found some interesting material here, so I will respond as good as I can, may God make my words clear and useful, not dull and hateful. And I do apologize in advance if I offend anyone, I really mean no offense.

    I saw this question: “In each evangelical case, a book is used to validate the authenticity of the message. Whose book is the right one? I have feelings about that, but the honest response is I don’t and can’t know for sure”

    As a Muslim, I believe, for God tells us so in the Quran, that all books (the Christian Bible, the Jewish Bible, the Zaboor … etc) are from God. The One God.
    Therefore we believe in all of them and, in fact, if I don’t believe in any of those books I’m not a Muslim. I’m talking about the original books.
    All the above religions (Islam, Christianity and Judaisim) have the same message, and all the prophets and messengers whom God (Allah in arabic by the way) carried the same message: Worship God and only God, the creator, the sustainer

    My Christian friends agree with me, at least here in Atlanta… the only disagreement we have is the famous matter of Jesus Christ (may peace be upon him) being a prophet and messenger, not God himself, thus Muslims don’t worship him (or even Muhammad may peace be upon him or any other prophet), but we worship the One who created him and all of us.
    That’s pretty much it 🙂

    My comment was just a response to the responses here (sorry Terry! I haven’t mentioned the post at all), so sorry if I sounded too preachy 🙂 it’s just that knowing the other point of view and understanding it can eliminate a lot of problems… Don’t you guys agree?

  8. I forgot to respond to this: “The fundamental problem with religion today is its narrow-mindedness. It helped build societies before we had the knowledge and ability to think for ourselves, but it’s place in our culture is increasingly destructive. It’s going to lead us to war (again), something certain fundamentalist Christians, fundamentalist Jews, certain fundamentalist Islamists and others seem to welcome”

    Don’t you think Terry, that the above problem is due to the misunderstanding of the message?

    God created us and gave us the manual to live in this temporary world. Without that we are nothing more than animals that eat, drink, sleep, build cool stuff and die.

    If man missuses this manual and becomes a fundamentalist then God will judge him… that doesn’t mean the manual is wrong.

    From the Quran: “Do they not see that Allah , who created the heavens and earth, is [the one] Able to create the likes of them? And He has appointed for them a term, about which there is no doubt. But the wrongdoers refuse [anything] except disbelief”

    Man is amazing… he thinks that by creating cool things he becomes a supreme being and starts to disbelief in God.

    From the Quran: “And We have certainly distributed it among them that they might be reminded, but most of the people refuse except disbelief”

    and: “Indeed, We guided him to the way, be he grateful or be he ungrateful”

    Peace on you all 🙂

  9. Note: ” Man is amazing… he thinks that by creating cool things he becomes a supreme being and starts to disbelief in God.”

    this is me speaking… it’s not from the Quran 🙂

  10. And to Larry….. I did not understand this: “Faith eliminates works — so that no man can boast”

    Can you clarify it for me please?

    Larry also said: “Faith openes the door to every single human being on earth — anyone can believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ no matter what their mental capacity”

    So the ones before Jesus (May peace be upon him) are what?

    As Terry said, The fundamental problem with religion today (I would rather say people, as stated in my previous reply) is its narrow-mindedness… I recommend reading, reading and more reading.. not just your own books, but others’ as well….. I have a bible and read from it to learn (although it’s hard since there are so many copies and different versions) … do you have a book other than the bible to learn about the others?

    Fundamentalists are in this world because of ignorance and lack of reading…

    Thank you Terry for the great post 😉 I respect a man who tries to change his world to the best, even though some may object…..and may God bless all of us.

  11. David Gillespie says:

    One essential problem is people have chosen to believe, in their heart of hearts, that their view of the world is not only correct for themselves, but also correct for everyone else. It’s a belief that leads to terrible acts by a regressive society.

    The other essential problem is reason is not sensational.

  12. Hi Terry, as you mention, they speak only for “highly ignorant, hateful and bigoted fringe.” You’re right, and I am sure decent people everywhere see right through them, even if most people don’t have the time or inclination to comment. As you are aware, at the moment Muslims have far more important issues to attend to than this kind of ignorance.

    Thought they may be few, let us focus on the positive aspects of our life on earth: the fact that there are many of us still who can rise above ethnic and religious differences. We can overcome their petty negativity, I promise you.

    What I mean to say here is, speak out positively for what you believe in, rather than giving credence to negativity. We’ll simply drown them out.

    Thanks for caring.

  13. Mr. Heaton,

    Thank you for daring to speak out against the narrow-minded ideology that the many in the US is seemingly gripped in. I was surprised to hear an Evangelical Republican claim on the David Frost show, broadcasted herein Amman, that Mormons were not Christians. Who are they to define Christianity? I know that they believe that only they are Christians, but to say it on international programs is really disturbing.

    I would also like to thank you for speaking out against the All American Muslim tele-drama. I haven’t seen it, but from what my son has been telling me, from what he reads of the show online here, it is any but Islam. I am applauded that us Muslims are being portrayed in this distorted way. But, my thought is that the US wants the American public to think that the kind of Islam, as portrayed on the show, is correct, to counter those who are really practicing their faith, which will, likely, lead to more discrimination and bias.

    May Allah help and guide us all.

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