Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The War On Islam In America
Let me state first of all, I am an unapologetic Christian, holding firm to what I believe to be the truths of the Bible and the concept that I believe, Jesus meant exactly what he said when he said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” I also believe the Bible is correct when it says, “There is no other name under Heaven which any of us can be saved other than the name of Jesus.”  While I have issues with Radical Islam, I have strong disagreeing points of view from a religious perspective with any system of faith that prescribes to salvation offered by anyone other than Jesus. I also have serious issues with the way many who profess their faith as following Jesus who also are doing and saying the things they are regarding Muslim people.

I think it a serious mistake to not draw differences between Radical Islam and Moderate Islam in the same way I think it a serious mistake to compare all Christians to Westboro Baptist Church. It is dangerous to paint all people of faith under a single color, when in reality, there is a difference. When we paint others with a broad brush, we unfortunately include people under that color that does not fit there. I am no more a part of the same faith system of Westboro Baptist Church or the KKK than many Muslims are a part of Radical Islam. We would all serve ourselves, and our neighbors well to remember that reality.

A number of years ago I served as a volunteer pastor in the areas of Evangelism and Outreach at what was then named Westport Mennonite Brethren Church. That church, near Tulsa Oklahoma between Collinsville and Owasso sat on a corner called German Corner. It was so named because prior to World War 2 many who were a part of that church were immigrants from Russia and Germany.  During the outbreak of World War 2 many at the church still spoke German and if not mistaken, the church still had German speaking services because it was the native tongue of many at the church. You can imagine the attitudes of many within the community with the outbreak of World War 2.

Many of those in the community just like many other German Americans were dangerous to many people. These German immigrants were people who had left the persecution in Germany, to find freedom in America, they were a peace loving people, opposed to war but also understanding of the need for actions to stop Hitler.  Many Mennonites were put in internment camps in America, just as were many Japanese due to a fear of association with their land of origin. This last year, I drove by one of those internment camps and I was reminded of a story, which I heard first hand which brought tears to my eyes, as well as the person telling the story, some 45 or 50 years later.

While at Westport I also worked with our middle school youth. I had a concern that many Mennonite Brethren people had forgotten their history, a sad commentary especially since many of those experiencing and living through that history of coming to America were still alive. There was one such lady who was a part of the church that I wanted to share her story. I will never forget that experience.

This lady was in her 80’s and she was one of those who came to America with her parents to experience freedom. I will never forget her telling this story and her memories of being a young girl during World War 2. While it was close to 50 years later she would still cry telling of how she was treated during this time. She was bullied at school, had her hair pulled, called a Nazi and on and on. She would be beaten up, over and over again, simply because she was from Germany. She was guilty by association because she spoke German and was from Germany. She now understood more than most the freedoms afforded those who came to America, she understood what it felt like to have that dream and understanding ripped out from under her. As she told her story, I and others, wept, the hurt had lasted so long and what had been done to her was so wrong. The concerns many had about her and her family, at least to me, seemed similar to the way many are now treating many Muslim people.

I wonder sometimes about if we really think about the faith many who say they are Christian, represent. How do others see or respond to our faith by our words and actions?  I also think about how we proclaim the beautiful aspects of America while in reality, some promote a concept that is nothing like America. Now don’t take me wrong, I understand an appropriate vetting process, I understand the need to seek and insure safety as much as possible but as I look at comments on social media I am perplexed; How can we promote the respect for our soldiers who serve on the battlefield, yet at the same time, ridicule and belittle a United States Marine or others who served in our armed services who happen to be Muslim? 

Unfortunately, I believe many are allowing Radical Islam to win. We cower in fear and the way many show that fear is the way they group a whole group of people into the same category as the radicals. When the first response is to group all people into a radical group, we in many ways become no better than the people we throw under the umbrellas we do. We end up having a form of hatred in how we react. While we may try to mask it as caution, concern, etc.…, there is no doubt, there is for many a hatred that is certainly unchristian, and I challenge, for a nation of immigrants who says it supports the concepts of “The American Dream,” unfortunately rips the head off of the Statue of Liberty and all she stands for.

I challenge for Christians, put on the armor of God and display the attitude of love for all people that Christ commands us to put on. Sometimes that battle is won with love, and believe me, it can be a real battle to love even our enemies. Our responsibility is to mirror Jesus, not some political slant. I would say to those Americans who are so quick to hate, to reflect on our history as a nation and the mistakes we have made as a nation. Let’s learn from those mistakes and do all we can to not repeat them.  Now again, as a point of clarification, I am not supporting Radical Islam, I believe that it is a nations responsibility to do all it can to destroy all such forms of terror, there is in fact, no reasoning with some people and it is time we quit trying to do so. There really is very little reasoning with people who want to kill and destroy you, it is best of course if we try to prevent from getting to that point but that for a current group of people is too late, maybe not for others, but for some, yes, it is too late. Now understand we have to be careful to not throw all Muslims under the same umbrella. It is a sad day in America, I still believe we live in a great nation, unfortunately, the actions of hatred by some tear down brick by brick much of what has made our nation great.  May we rebuild her as opposed to tear her down. God help us all.  

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