The terrorist attack on the mosque in Ōtautahi- Christchurch, New Zealand presents a time to spread love. It presents an opportunity to put the kind of tenacity for justice towards White supremacists that many of us had (and still have) towards Middle Eastern people involved in terrorism.
Upon finding out about the mass-murder, I sobbed, mourning the lives lost and impacted by this atrocity.
As I write this post about last week—another week of quitting the Bible (Days 252-258), tears keep flooding.
Here is the message of Christ:
God loves our Muslim family.
We grieve with you. We stand with you.
This is my scripture from lived experience apart from the Bible.
If we struggle with the idea of God accepting Muslim people or seeing them as family, we plant the kind of seeds that watered with enough hateful rhetoric reaps a harvest of bloody havoc.
In this post I discuss three issues involving the U.S. Church response (and contribution) to White supremacist terrorism and Islamophobia that stops this message of God’s love. I close with one of many ways to begin to co-exist and co-thrive across different beliefs.
1. Silence of the Lambs
The sheeple of the church have been awfully quiet in speaking against Islamophobic rhetoric or our own insidious reinforcement of White supremacy.
The church is long overdue in extend the narrowly defined concerns about Brown terrorists from the Middle East to include White supremacist organizations. It is time for us to stop treating White supremacists like after-school programs for the misunderstood.
I have noticed more than a fair share of White Christians who come across as more concerned about being called racist than even standing up against blatant and obvious hatred.
They seem more concerned about policing anything that hints of social justice than bringing the same tenacity against White supremacists. I am not a self-proclaimed social justice warrior, and I see the obvious willful ignorance and veiled bigotry that hides behind the Bible.
If we attend a Protestant or Catholic Church that is deafening silent about these issues, then we contribute to the problem, no matter how long ago you invited Jesus into our hearts. Our thoughts and prayers after lives have been lost become nothing more than something socially acceptable empty words.
We can use our thoughts and prayers to change the way we live in order to prevent these terrorist attacks.
2. Persecuted Christian Cop-Out
Various Christians point out our religious persecution, as if our plight is one of singular and most importance. It is not uncommon to find some of us identifying the persecution of Christians in Muslim majority nations as definitive proof of the evils of Islam and a reason to ignore the violence against Muslim and Middle Eastern people.
I believe the persecution of Christians throughout the world is an opportunity to possess more empathy with those who are persecuted of different faiths.
We can even look in our own backyard to find that persecution sits right under our noses.
Recently, a man pointed a gun at a security camera outside a mosque in neighboring Dayton, Ohio. He made it a point to go during the 6 am prayer.
On one hand, we have a group of people who arose early out of their love for God, while on the other hand, a White man did the same to express hate for some of God’s people.Who is the terrorist?
My fellow Muslim sisters and brothers in Cincinnati have already been under heightened alert from the surrounding hate activity prior to the New Zealand terrorist attacks.
Meanwhile, most of us who are Christians live without such fear in the United States, save those predominantly Black or progressive churches that have been routinely targeted.
As a person who pursues the Christ path, we can stand to re-evaluate the messages we teach and promote. We can grow in our empathy, weeping with those who weep.
More importantly, we can follow our empathy with intentional action by changing the rhetoric in our churches that contribute to White supremacy and Islamophobia.
3. A Religion of Violence
Whenever I hear people who tell me that Islam is a violent religion, I think about the people who have been enslaved, murdered, and raped in the name of Christian religion.
Is Christianity evil, too?
If we do not welcome the view of Christianity as a religion of genocidal warriors and greedy mass-murderers, then it is unacceptable to equate Islam with terrorism.
Before citing passages from the Qur’an to prove Islam as a religion of violence, I suggest including the scriptures from the Bible that highlights God as a xenophobic homicidal maniac.
The reality is this: Both Christianity and Islam have followers with diverse views from fundamentalist, progressive, to extremist interpretations of our holy books and expressions of our faith.
It is common in both religions for worshippers to believe we have the only way to God. As long as we attempt to control people according to this belief, we will ever be at odds with each other.
Whenever we use our religion to justify killing, we perpetuate cycles of violence. None of it is excusable or justifiable.
By getting to know our Muslim family, outside of the terrorist stories in the news media, more Christians might discover that God’s love knows no religion.
The Muslim people I know make it a point to denounce terrorism and intentionally distance themselves from hate rhetoric.
Programs I have attended at a local mosque go over and beyond to disavow extremism and the dehumanizing expressions of Islam that often gets mapped onto the entire religion.
Closing: Co-Exist and Co-Thrive
In addition to standing against terrorism of all shades, I believe the one of the ways we can coexist and co-thrive together with different beliefs and faiths in this world is to expand the way we live our spirtuality by humanizing our sacred texts.
It is hard for people to accept a diversity of paths to worship God or to live in this world when we dogmatically think one book written by the finger of God has declared one way-the only way.
When indoctrination becomes a matter of our eternal life, the cultural norms reinforcing this one way makes it makes it extremely difficult to see any other way to live.
When the one way makes the other out to be the enemy worthy of death by virtue of the color of their skin or different faith, we must ask ourselves if we are using God to mask the corruption in our hearts.
In this hour, we can join our Christian and Muslim family, who do not align with extremism, to live in a path that allows for people to live together with freedom with our beliefs.