To All Muslim Americans,
I’ve had it.
There are a lot of political issues and current events about which I have formulated certain opinions. Collectively they don’t neatly place me in any specific category of political thought. Labels like “conservative” or “liberal” don’t fit the sum of my thoughts.
Moreover, I am a grateful pastor in a church where a wide range of political opinions are expressed. Even if those opinions were homogenous I would not share my political opinion because I greatly appreciate the separation between church and state. Thank you, Baptist up-bringing.
But I simply cannot remain silent on this issue.
I am a white American male. Statistics prove over and over again that based simply on surface level impressions, I get the benefit of the doubt more than any other gender/race combination. Based solely on my gender and skin color I am usually the most easily trusted and the least suspected person in any given situation.
I am also a Christian pastor. As a grateful follower of Jesus Christ, I could not disagree more with Islam.
I do not appreciate, and I don’t think you should either, the efforts of some Christians to synthesize our two distinct faiths, making them appear more similar than they actually are.
I believe a saving relationship with Jesus Christ is the only way to know lasting, true life with God, the God who lovingly created us all in His image. I hope you do not hear my expression of faith as anything akin to arrogance. Instead, I simply believe what Jesus said when he was the way we come to know the Father (John 14:6) and that he and the Father are one (John 10:30), along with the Holy Spirit distinct but equal members of the Triune God.
However, even though we will disagree on many theological issues, I must tell you…
Donald Trump does not speak for us and he definitely does not speak for me.
One of the greatest strengths of Protestant Christianity in America is its diversity. It is simply impossible to think about that diversity, even with its unity in Jesus Christ, being personified and represented by one person, especially that person.
I cannot begin to understand how we are even having this conversation. The First Amendment clearly gives you the right to believe in whatever religion you choose, “and the free exercise thereof…or the right of the people peaceably to assemble.”
It is the definition of hypocrisy when so many people want to ignore the First Amendment when it does not further their own position yet embrace the Second Amendment when it does.
Donald Trump’s comments the last two days have been absurd. He wants all lawful Muslim immigration to stop, calling for a “total and complete shutdown.” He wants all Muslims to be forced to wear some sort of ID badge. Absurd.
America is as much yours as it mine.
We realize that what it means to be a Christian has absolutely nothing to do with what it means to be an American.
To say otherwise is to insult the 2 billion Christians who do NOT live in America, claiming that they have are practicing an inferior form of Christianity because it is not wedded with some syncretistic form of nationalism. God Doesn’t Need America
We realize that religious liberty only exists as actual liberty for all religions, not just the most popular religion.
We don’t think American mosques should be shut down, as Trump does. This would obviously be a gross violation of the Constitution but we also don’t want American mosques to be shut down because we don’t want American churches to be shut down one day, or any type of peaceable religious assembly.
One of the pastors at our church wrote recently, “As Christians restrict the religious practice of Muslims, secularists will begin to restrict the religious practice of Christians. And we will not have a logical argument to stop it. We must choose a better way.”
As Christianity, and religion in general, continues to move to the margins of American society, we will all soon be in the minority. As secularism continues to gain more and more ground, how dare Christians approve the words of someone like Trump when they could just as easily be used against their own faith one day.
We realize that radical Islamic terrorism has little to do with mainstream Islam.
We would ask that you consider how little Donald Trump’s words match up with any tenant of mainstream Christianity.
We realize that ISIS is a perversion of true Islam even in their pursuit of true Islam.
We realize that Islamic terrorists also target Muslims who they deem unfit for true Islam, which is nothing more than their ruthless form of brutal radicalism.
We realize that we have a shared responsibility to call out radicalism from within our own ranks.
It has been so powerful to see so many Muslims denouncing Islamic terrorism as radical violence they want no part of. Thank you. As Christians and your fellow Americans we also commit to do the same.
Donald Trump is not our voice just like ISIS is not yours.
I was glad to see Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan condemn Trump’s comments with four simple words, “This is not conservatism.”
Ryan also said that freedom of religion is “a founding principle of this country…What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for and, more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.”
I am grateful to share this great country with you. I am grateful for the ways in which you enrich our cities, neighborhoods and schools. As a Christian, I am choosing a better way than what Donald Trump proposes.