Supporting Our Muslim Neighbors
By Jim Baton
On June 10, 2017, a group called ACT! for America is planning anti-Muslim "March Against Sharia" protests in 22 major cities across the United States. This conservative group expresses their prejudice against Muslims with typical fear-mongering, outlandish claims about an Islamic conspiracy to take over America, claiming that "tens of thousands of Islamic militants now reside in America operating in sleeper cells, attending our colleges and universities, even infiltrating our government;" and asserting that radicalized Muslims "have infiltrated us at the CIA, at the FBI, at the Pentagon, at the State Department."
The website for one Florida branch of ACT! for America makes these highly offensive claims:
- "Islam is a creed of an ignorant people of a primitive age. It is fixated in time and place; it harbors the ambition of taking the 21st century world back 14 centuries and ruling it by its dogma of intolerance, injustice and death."
- "Islam is not a religion, but a harmful thorn; thus, we must make laws to fight this unwanted thorn growing like mushrooms in our backyards. If Islam is not controlled, these mushrooms soon will blossom and become mushroom-clouds."
- "There is truly no such thing as a "moderate" Muslim…Islam is a comprehensive totalitarian form of slavery…and savage cult…the greatest threat to human race [sic]."
This is pure prejudicial hate-speech against all the Muslims in America, and throughout the world.
This is pure prejudicial hate-speech against all the Muslims in America, and throughout the world. The plan proposed by ACT! is to ban all Muslims from entering America, and to pass anti-sharia laws in every state—before it's too late and America falls to Global Islamization.
What can we do to show our support for our Muslim neighbors? I spoke with someone from the group Shoulder to Shoulder, an interfaith organization dedicated to ending anti-Muslim sentiment by strengthening the voice of freedom and peace, and gleaned the following ideas:
- Rather than planning counter-protests, vigils, or anything that could add fuel to ACT's desire to gain media attention, encourage interfaith Iftars (fast-breaking meals during Ramadan) on the nights of June 9 and 10 especially. Pitch these to local and national media as "counter-protests," in that they reject the fear-mongering that ACT is doing—choosing instead to celebrate a beautiful time in the Muslim religious calendar with our neighbors. Encouraging interfaith partners to connect with Muslim contacts in these cities to find out what they are thinking is, of course, the first step.
- Muslim Advocates is working on a letter that could be sent to mayors, police chiefs, etc., to alert them about the planned anti-Muslim marches and make sure they understand that these are hate groups that are leading them. Encourage faith leaders at local levels to be part of the group that delivers those letters, showing community leaders that a broad segment of their constituents—not just Muslims!—are concerned.
- ReThink Media has offered to help with drafting and pitching op-eds from local clergy in various cities. Op-eds should run the weekend following the protests, not before, so as not to raise additional publicity for ACT! and their hate speech.
Is your city on the map? If so, consider contacting an organization like Shoulder to Shoulder or other peacemaking partners such as Peace Catalyst International or Bridges to Common Ground. They can provide you with valuable resources to link you with others who are also committed to religious freedom and loving our neighbors.
Is your city not on the map? Then I recommend you begin now to make friends with the Muslims in your school, workplace, neighborhood, park, and city. Don't let the nightly news convince you that all Muslims are out to kill you. They're not. Get to know a Muslim and find out the truth for yourself.
If you are an Evangelical Christian with the goal of self-preservation, wishing to close your nation, your city and your heart to Muslims, I suggest that your fear is too great and your God is too small.
If you are an Evangelical Christian with the goal of self-preservation, wishing to close your nation, your city and your heart to Muslims, I suggest that your fear is too great and your God is too small. Ask God to enlarge the capacity of your heart to love: whether you consider Muslims your neighbors or your enemies, Jesus offers no second option for those who follow him.
And please pass this on to churches and other organizations in your city. Letting our Muslim neighbors know we care for them as an important part of our multi-cultural America is an excellent way to keep them from being radicalized by angry, disenfranchised extremists.
Jim Baton's 20 years living in a Muslim nation have birthed a series of novels that are transforming people's perceptions on Muslims, and how God would have us relate to them in love. His most recent novel, A Violent Light, just won the 2017 Next Generation Indies Award for Religious Fiction.