Reviewed by John W. Morehead.
Human beings are wired to be aware of difference. It is natural part of human nature to forge various social alliances that foster senses of “us,” the insiders, in distinction to “them,” the outsiders. Problems arise when the outsiders become the enemy, and they further function in such a way that one’s individual and collective identity is created by way of opposition to the other. This dynamic is found in our post-9/11 environment in regards to Islam, where a cottage industry portrays Islam as a monstrous entity, wholly a religion of violence, pursuing terrorism and the overthrow of the US Constitution to be replaced with “sharia law.” The result of this narrative is a frighteningly large number of people adopting “Islamophobia,” an irrational fear of Muslims and the Islamic religion.
Nathan Lean discusses the phenomenon of right-wing construction of Islamic monstrosity in his volume The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims. The book reveals the astonishing success this industry has had in shaping negative public opinions about Islam. Continue reading
By John W. Morehead
Cross-posted from Qideas
Evangelicals are having a serious credibility problem in regard to religious pluralism in the public square. This problem is amplified when it comes to Islam in a post-9/11 environment. Consider a couple of examples.
Former Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is facing increasing criticism from both political parties due to accusations that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood. The problem is Abedin passed intense security scrutiny to obtain her job, and Bachmann’s claim is also stymied by a lack of real evidence to substantiate what many are labeling an outlandish claim.
But Bachman is not alone as an evangelical in making questionable claims about Islam. Lt. General William G. “Jerry” Boykin (Ret.) is the new vice president of the Family Research Council. In his understanding of Islam, “we need to realize that Islam itself is not just a religion—it is a totalitarian way of life. It’s a legal system, shari’ah law; it’s a financial system; it’s a moral code; it’s a political system; it’s a military system. It should not be protected under the First Amendment, particularly given that those following the dictates of the Qur’an are under an obligation to destroy our Constitution and replace it with shari’ah law.”
These conspiratorial and simplistic views of Islam held by Bachmann and Boykin are symptoms of something bigger. Evangelicals not only have a credibility problem when it comes to engaging Islam in American politics, but they are also ill prepared for America’s increasing religious pluralism in the public square. Continue reading