This evening at our church’s annual congregational meeting, a leader of the mission committee stood up and talked about a recent trip he’d taken to Uganda. He commented that this time, he noticed more Muslim mosques in the towns they visited, and said this was evidence “the enemy is advancing.” I almost fell out of my seat.
What a terribly ethnocentric, narrow-minded, UN-Christian, and sad statement that was. How unfortunate and foolish it is to believe Muslim people, who comprise a fifth of the world’s population, are “the enemy.” This is NOT true. For Christians who read the Bible and follow Jesus, “the enemy” is SIN and the author of evil in this world: Satan. That Being was not and is not the Prophet Muhammad. It is shocking as well as depressing to see how misguided some of our respected community leaders are here in Oklahoma when it comes to basic issues like this involving Islam and Christianity.
I don’t write often about Christian themes on this blog, I set up Eyes Right as a Christian team blog to share most of my thoughts and posts which relate directly to religion and Christianity. I thought this post was worth sharing here, however, because these issues are not “just” a matter of faith.
I suppose in the minds of at least some Oklahomans (I pray not a majority) our nation continues to wage war in the Middle East “against Islam.” The last time I checked, The US Department of Defense as well as the Department of Homeland Security called this “the global war on terror,” not the “global war on Islam.” This is not an inconsequential semantic difference.
Speaking as a U.S. citizen, a voter, and a Christian, our nation (the United States) is NOT waging war on Muslims or the Islamic faith. We are striving to combat terrorism, which sadly has been with us since time immemorial and likely will remain so. I agree with those who observed that instead of “militarizing” the war on terror following 9-11, our long term as well as short term national interests would have been better served by focusing on terrorism as a criminal act. (See “Time to Weed the Garden” posted on 9-14-2001.) I do not have my head in the sand. I know there are many folks “out there” who hate our nation and everything it stands for, and are ready to use any means at their disposal to harm us. I am not a pacifist, and believe we need a strong military. We certainly do NOT need to continue deficit spending to keep the stocks of our military industrial complex riding high, however, and we DEFINITELY do not need to have community, state, or national leaders making statements like I heard tonight that “Islam is our enemy.”
For more of my thinking along these lines, see my January 2009 post, “Iran, Sovereignty, Colonialism and the Values of the West.”
At least one Oklahoman (that would be me) rejects the premise that all Muslims are enemies of the United States and Christendom more generally. We are all God’s children, and I pray my brothers and sisters in Christ in Oklahoma (as well as everyone else in other places) can and will understand this. Labeling one fifth of the world’s population as “the enemy” is racism I must reject.
ADDENDUM: Based on some feedback I’ve received on this post via email as well as post comments, I’ve renamed the post “Message for Oklahoma Christians: Muslims are NOT our enemies” instead of the previous title, “Message for Oklahoma Christians: Islam is NOT the enemy.” It is very important to differentiate individuals who choose to be Muslim from the Islamic faith as a whole in this context. Works-based religions like Islam ARE in direct opposition to the grace-based salvation of Christianity, and the sharing of the Christian gospel definitely IS vigorously opposed by certain Muslim groups in different countries. There IS direct and inevitable ideological conflict between Christianity and the Islamic world today, as there has been for centuries. The reality of this conflict SHOULD not correlate, however, into attitudes or perceptions of other human beings or ethnically/religiously defined groups of human beings as “enemies.” Muslim people are NOT enemies of Christians, and should not be considered as such.
Enemies do exist, and a compelling case can be made that individuals who choose to engage in violent, subversive acts of terrorism are enemies of not only nation-states (the United States included) but also more universal human values.
It appears my statement about “Islamic racism” needs correction and clarification as well. I’m told Arabs make up only about 16% of worldwide Islam adherents. All races are represented within Islam, as they are within Christianity, so the term “racist” may not fit/work in this context well.
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