That is the title of a recent cover story by TIME magazine. The issue, no doubt, is prompted by the debate over whether or not to build a mosque at the in New York city near Ground Zero. Leave that debate aside for the moment, and consider the question TIME poses. Underneath the question are several assumptions which are driving the discussion.
You can summarize them like this:
- All religious faiths are basically the same
- There is no true religion or false religion
- Islam is not a problem
- We are the problem, i.e. our “Islamophobia”
- Therefore, do not worry
The same set of assumptions were at work in the media response in the wake of the Fort Hood shooting not long ago.
Consider each of these assumptions:
1. All religious faiths are basically the same. Really? This is radical pluralism at its worst. It is what many people want to believe, but a close examination will not yield this conclusion.
Islam and Christianity have a few things in common, but they differ significantly in their view of God, of who Jesus is, on the nature of sin, salvation, the Bible, and the way we are supposed to treat people. Not only are all religious faiths NOT the same, they will all lead to a very different place. This first assumption shows an incredible naivete on the part of some in the mainstream media.
2. There is no true religion or false religion. Therefore Islam is okay. Who is to say your religion is better? But again, this is based on the assumption that there is no revealed religion and there is no truth. Jesus had another view. In Matthew 24.24-25 he spoke of those to come who would lead many astray from the truth. He believed in true and false religion, and no more emphatically then when he claimed to be “the way, the truth and the life,” in John 14.6.
3. Islam is really not a problem. No. Of course not. It is essentially a religion of peace, except for a few nut cases. That is what they tell us. Leave aside Mohammed, who in his lifetime spread his faith by the sword. Leave aside the history of Islam as it conquered the Holy Land, North Africa, and parts of Spain. Leave aside its long war against the Byzantine empire. Leave aside the Ottoman surge all the way up to central Europe. Leave aside the studied opinion of Harvard’s Samuel Huntington who in his 1996 book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World concluded: “Some Westerners…have argued that the West does not have problems with Islam but only with violent Islamist extremists. Fourteen hundred years of history demonstrates otherwise.” Leave aside that watchful observer, Winston Churchill, who wrote about Islam (or what he called Mohammedanism) in 1899 in The River War, and said, “No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step, and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science . . . the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.”
Leave aside the Islamic inspired Armenian and Greek genocide of the early 20th century and the systematic attempts to exterminate Christian populations in that region. My wife’s grandmother was a survivor of that tragedy.
Forget about the attempt to kill the pope. Forget about the planes crashing into the World Trade Center on September 11th. Forget about Beslan, the Bali nightclub, train bombings in Madrid, riots in France, the London subway attacks, the genocide in Darfur, the shoe bomber in LA, the attempted bombing in Times Square, the shootings in Fort Hood, decapitated American journalists, the persecution of Coptic Christians, the burning of churches in Indonesia, the numerous embassy bombings, the Islamic cell in Canada that had plans to blow up parliament, kidnap the prime minister and behead him, the Florida Islamic cell with plans to blow up the Sears Tower, the plans to blow up tunnels in New York City. Forget about the president of Iran saying he is planning for another holocaust and wants to wipe Israel off the map. Forget about the fact that six out of the ten top nations that persecute and kill Christians do it in the name of Islam. And forget about the fact that in 2007, when we were still counting, the majority of the top terrorists organizations identified by the US State department were Islamicist. Though now, the Obama administration has eliminated words like “terrorist,” “jihadist,” Islamic fundamentalist,” “extremist from its lexicon. Instead, our president seems to have no problem speaking of the glory of Islam, and seems to go out of his way to not speak of the greatness of Christ.
No, Islam is not a problem, they tell us. Instead, WE are the problem.
Now before I explain that one, let me offer a few important qualifications. Of course I wish to distinguish between Muslims, (many of whom are good citizens and peaceful people) and radical Islam. Although it does worry me a bit that in the recent Pew Research Center survey of 1000 American Muslims one in four under age thirty believe that suicide bombings are justified in certain circumstances.
Of course, there are many Muslims who are ethnically Muslim and do not really believe in Islam. Of course I believe that Christians should love and respect their Muslim neighbor, while at the same time advocating that our government be a lot wiser in dealing with the militants. I also happen to know that many Muslims are coming to faith in Christ and support missionary efforts to reach them. I am also acutely aware of the fact that the United States has no corner on virtue. We easily overlook our own sin.
4. We are the problem. But TIME overlooks everything I mentioned in point #3 to highlight the fact that the real problem is ours. According to TIME, we are jumping to conclusions way too fast. The real trouble is our bigoted, prejudicial attitude towards Islam that shows itself in the Ground Zero mosque debate. TIME wants us to know that there really is no reason to worry, because we’ve misread the situation, and we are………Islamophobes.
I, for one, don’t buy it. It seems to me that some in the media suffer from a Christophobia and are Islamonaive. Like other Christians, I struggle with how to be faithful to the commands of Christ and true to the Great Commission on the one hand, yet wise in standing against the evil of radical Islam on the other hand. And therefore, I worry.