Yesterday night in my class, Ministry and Context with Dr. Charlene Jin Lee, we watched a Youtube video to close our gathering. We'd been talking about Ubuntu theology and Desmond Tutu and we transitioned our discussion into Christian & Muslim relations. I found the video quite disturbing:
Now, this didn't happen in some culturally disconnected and ignorant community. It happened right in Yorba Linda, California--an affluent, educated, and culturally diverse community. And yet, even sill, the racially and religiously insensitive and intolerant assumptions can be listed. The protesters in the video assume an automatic link between Islam and terrorism (it would be just as fair to make the same historical link between Christianity and terrorism), that Arab Muslims cannot also be every bit as American as any other race or religious persuasion, that hate is the proper response to a fully legal and constitutional religious gathering, and the list of false assumptions goes on. Did those American Muslims have something to do with 9/11? Are they terrorists? Are they dangerous? Is America not their home?
Adel Syed, one of the Muslim event attendees, was quoted for saying, "I'm being told to go back home. I'm actually from Fullerton, [CA] so I don't know where back home is for me."
Now, I can only hope that this video has been doctored in some way. I can only hope that it's just propaganda and that nobody's really as hateful, fearful, and ignorant as the protesters in that video. But I'm afraid I know better. Either way, I am ashamed to say that the perspective represented by those protesters is not only alive & well, but has representation even among people who claim to follow Jesus--the one who showed love to all people, stood up for the marginalized, and told stories of heroic Samaritans.
The Church is called to the ministry of reconciliation. The task which looms on the horizon for a Church willing to take up this cross is the task of reconciling ourselves to our Muslim brothers and sisters. The Church must stand with them, the marginalized and feared of our society, and speak a new word--a word of compassion, of peace, and of love.