My sorry career as a religious bigot

My sorry career as a religious bigot June 19, 2020


Where I chaired
The plenary hall of the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre
(Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph by Nichollas Harrison)


I have an anonymous critic — I call him my Malevolent Stalker — who has been publicly faulting my character, my appearance, my literary tastes, my religious views, my travels, my scholarship, my friends, and indeed all my works almost every single day for the past fifteen years or so.  Yesterday, he accused me of holding non-Latter-day Saints, non-Latter-day Saint religious faiths, and non-Latter-day Saint beliefs in disrespect and contempt, effectively of being a religious bigot.


Although much more could be offered, I believe that the following response should be adequate to counter the accusation:


  • (specifically, the columns published since Bill Hamblin’s untimely passing in December 2019)
  • For approximately thirty-five years, I have taught the humanities of the Islamic world at Brigham Young University.
  • For roughly the same period, I have taught introductory courses on the religion of Islam at BYU.
  • For roughly the same period, I have taught a course on Islamic philosophy, concentrating almost entirely (and entirely sympathetically) on religious issues.
  • Once or twice, I have included The Guide of the Perplexed (by Moses Maimonides, the Arabic-writing greatest of all medieval rabbis) in that Islamic philosophy course.
  • For nearly the same time, I have alternated teaching courses on the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, in Arabic and English.
  • I founded BYU’s Islamic Translation Series, and led it for many years.
  • I founded BYU’s Eastern Christian Texts series, and led it for many years.
  • I founded BYU’s series on the Medical Works of Moses Maimonides, and led it for many years.
  • In connection with those publishing ventures, I have lectured at, among other places, the British Library, the University of Jordan, Damascus University, the Jordanian embassy in Washington DC, the embassy of Saudi Arabia, the Institut du monde arabe in Paris, the Iran International Conference Center, and the United Nations in New York.
  • I have lectured in both Arabic and English at Islamic universities in Indonesia and at Cairo’s Al-Azhar, the premiere and oldest Islamic university in the Arab world
  • I have lectured repeatedly on Islam at BYU’s annual Education Week, in Provo and even, once, in Rexburg, to very large audiences in main lecture halls.
  • I have lectured on Islam around the world — on every inhabited continent except South America, in both German and English — to popular audiences of both Latter-day Saints and non-Latter-day Saints in an effort to increase mutual sympathy and understanding.
  • I have lectured on Islam in non-Latter-day Saint churches, as well as in synagogues and mosques, in several different countries.
  • I have participated twice (speaking three times) in the international Parliament of the World’s Religions.
  • During one of those international Parliaments, in Melbourne, Australia, I chaired a plenary session in the main hall of the city’s conference center that included (among others) Feisal Abdul Rauf and Tariq Ramadan.
  • I have participated in multiple interfaith dialogues and “trialogues” across the United States, as well as in Austria, Israel, Spain, and Malta.
  • I am currently involved in the planning of a major conference on Islam to be convened at Brigham Young University late next year.


As I say, I could add much more.  But that’s enough for now.


I honestly don’t see the point of such transparent falsehoods as this one, leveled by my Malevolent Stalker.  Granted, he posts his accusations in a small corner of the internet, to an audience pre-programmed to accept them.  But the offense is particularly egregious in this specific area, where my record is so long, so public, so unambiguous, and so well-documented.  It’s presumably not coincidental that my accuser takes his online pseudonym from that of a character on a popular television crime show — a highly intelligent but boundlessly malicious and unscrupulous stalker, psychological manipulator, and serial murderer.  People find inspiration where it suits them.



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