Tag Archives: Politics

Muslims, Fear, and the Church

My passion is helping to connect the church to the world. Unfortunately the church has stood with many parts of culture that are fundamentally against Christ. These are often subtle and we miss them. I am thankful for several of my good friends outside of the Church to remind me of how we are, or are not, portraying Christ.

The gospel and Christ’ calling is more about what we are supposed to ‘do’ than it is about what we are ‘not to do’. My next several postings will be on the church as they can more effectively live out the gospel as a positive endeavor, rather than a negative calling out against something.

I was outside of a church recently when I was approached by a young-ish man. He loudly pronounced that he was not a threat and he dramatically emptied his pockets of his cell phone, wallet, and keys. Threw off what could be called a jacket and tossed down his hat and proclaimed that he was harmless to everyone minus an upside down cross tattooed on his neck. I ignored the gesture, ended my phone call and introduced myself. His name is Jason. He was drunk and coming off of a meth high.

He felt the need to proclaim that he was not a threat because he had been called an ‘Arab’ ‘terrorist’ or ‘Muslim’ before. Normally I would have glossed over this. But recently I read an article by Aziz Ansari giving a brief overview of his experience with racial and religious tensions. Although he himself is often greeted in the street by individuals wanting an autograph (he plays tom Haverford from Parks and Recreation). His immediate family on the other hand has experienced a much different response. They are often called terrorists, immigrants, told to go ‘home’ and other rude or fear inducing public remarks. Specifically he details the fear he had for his mother’s safety just after the attacks in Miami.

He specifically details in his article that Donald Trump’s campaign has increased the fear and tensions he has perceived. Whether it has increased or just brought to the surface what is already there is irrelevant. There is a systemic problem as it relates to the church. This hyped up fear of terrorism and Muslim extremists is pushed mostly by right wing conservatives. A vast majority of whom are Christians. What I want to focus on, and I pray that my reader can readily listen, is the Churches response to Muslims and Arabs in our country.

Here is my central point: Christians should never in any form be a part of spreading fear. There is no Scriptural basis for fear within ourselves or spreading fear to others. Specifically, we are called to only fear God, and to be a neighbor to all we come across.

Muslims should never reasonably fear for their safety from Christians. Even if a terrorist is a terrorist that claims to be a Muslim, what have we to fear? We have Christ who conquered death. Should we spread the fear of God? No. We preach Christ, him crucified and risen again. Fear is not of faith. Christians live by faith. If we perish in the process of spreading Christ’ love, then so be it.

The same is true of homosexuals, transgendered, hippies, pot heads, metal heads, nymphomaniacs, strippers, gang members, prostitutes, pimps, etc.

The Church as God’s voice to the world needs to be a place of safety for all others, with self-sacrificing reasonable caution. Should a twelve year old girl have spoken with Jason? Of course not. But any other college or high school male could have. If I become a victim of a very small pool of people intending violence at a church, then so be it. Christ calls us to fear him alone, so let it be far from the church to cause people to fear anyone but God.


Anger and Politics

                With the new health care plan[1] coming into effect this coming month many are going to be in full political indignation. The angry speeches, 21 hour long ‘filibusters’ (Ted Cruz), rallies, and heated family discussions are revving up for the start of Fall. Much of this anger comes from the conservative Christian Republicans and Libertarians. 

                Unfortunately anger and indignation is the last response that Christians should have to a universal health care system, or any political decision that is not legislating evil. Though many may claim that universal health care is evil, I challenge those that think so to show me from Scripture.

                The response of anger to political policy is problematic on two levels. First, as followers of Christ, Christians do not have their hope in this world. This world is broken and so are the people in leadership, whether biblically minded or not. No one will fashion a perfect system. All governments are fallen and no government will work perfectly with imperfect people. Therefore to much indignation, especially indignation that is usually not fully thought through, shows to much hope in this world. Usually the reason for anger is because those that are angry believe that laws or legislation are messing up the U.S.A. Why be angry over the breaking of a broken system?

                Second, and I say this carefully, those that look carefully will hopefully see that there are people who have more education, lived longer and had more experience than us and believe differently. As those seeking after truth we should humbly admit that we can’t know everything and that some differing positions may very well be right, and not ours. Humility does not give rise to anger.

                Also, being angry over what other people think is a good way to help people is not a good witness to the gospel of Christ.

                However, I do think there is a place for anger, but it is not when we are face to face with others. We may show indignation in writing, or show irritation in speeches, but this emotion must always be tempered with humility and civility. The goal is to win people to your side, not say your point as loudly as possible.

We should be angry over what God is angry about. We see this example in Scriptures. God is angry when the Israelites did not help the poor, the widows and the orphans. He was angry when they tested his goodness. He is angry when governments punish good and praise bad. But actual bad, not just the bad that is contrary to our opinion.

If we do not learn to speak softly, then this fall will be a double entendre.

               


[1] (I refuse to call it Obama Care as that would imply he wrote it or had significant input. I cannot believe he had significant input on a 2000 page document that was written the night before).