Faith-Based Blog a blog about faith from a believer with bandwidth

3Sep/10

Undermining Faith

Washington Post: In mosque controversies, some Christians undermine their own faith (Michael Gerson)

I'm not terribly fond of much of Gerson's writing (stylistically, great ... merit of the content, not so much). But there's something to be said for his take here:

In this debate, grace is in short supply but irony abounds. The Christian fundamentalist view of Islam bears a striking resemblance to the New York Times' view of Christian fundamentalism -- a simplistic emphasis on the worst elements of a complex religious tradition. Both create a caricature, then assert that the Constitution is under assault by an army of straw men. The debates within Islam on the nature and application of sharia law, for example, are at least as complex as the debates among Christian theologians on the nature of social justice. And the political application of Islam differs so greatly -- from Saudi Arabia to Mali to Morocco to Bosnia to Tanzania to Detroit -- that it defies easy summary.

Many Christian fundamentalists seem oblivious to the similarity of their own legal and cultural peril. In portions of America -- say San Francisco or Vermont -- conservative Christians are sometimes also viewed as suspicious, illiberal outsiders. Their opinions on gender roles, homosexuality and public morality are viewed as an attack on constitutional values -- much as fundamentalists view the threat from Islam. Some secular critics of Islam -- Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens come to mind -- explicitly argue that the real threat to freedom comes from the oppressive moralism of the entire Abrahamic tradition -- Jewish, Christian and Muslim.

Christian fundamentalists who undermine religious liberty in order to target Muslims are playing a game of intolerance roulette. That First Amendment might come in handy someday.

By all means, read the whole thing.

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