Interfaith misunderstanding in AmericaBy Brian McLaren
It’s been a great year for interfaith misunderstanding in America.
There was a U.S. senator’s wild allegation about Islamic extremists infiltrating the American government.
There are the ridiculous — and ongoing — claims about a conspiracy to “impose sharia law in America,” starting in Kansas and North Carolina, of all places!
And then there’s the persistent myth — like many other myths, strangely popular among Fox News viewers — that Barack Obama is a Muslim, accompanied by the belief that being so, if it were true, would be a scandalous thing.
Then there were debunked claims — purveyed by the website of a Christian organization ostensibly pursuing justice — that the Muslim Brotherhood was crucifying their Christian opponents. The post is still up, with the words “Stop Christian genocide in Egypt” prominently displayed.
And then there’s the perpetual news about the latest hijinks of this or that crazed pastor, imam, rabbi or priest who — despite their different traditions — manage to mirror one another’s stellar misunderstanding of “the other.”
Whatever our faith tradition, we all should take the dangers of interfaith misunderstanding seriously because all of us — Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, agnostics, everyone — are affected.
Interfaith misunderstanding is a contagious disease. Misunderstanding among “us” begets hostility against “them,” and hostility against “them” begets more hostility, which eventually circles back against “us.” As the global fever of interfaith hostility rises, everybody potentially finds himself in somebody’s crosshairs.
But beyond practical reasons for countering interfaith hostility with interfaith benevolence, there are powerful moral reasons for doing so.
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