Do Not Fear Islam – Part 2
Bigotry among Christian Conservatives
I’m usually very patient talking with people I do not agree with. However there are two kinds of people and talk I have less patience for – bigots and liars. Recently I was handed a brochure that just pissed me off.
It was published by a conservative group that claims it follows conservative Christian principles. I have no problem with that. Most conservative Christians are following their core beliefs. My problem with this group is that it is now publishing what I can only describe as hate literature. That I cannot abide. The org, Concerned Women for America (CWA), was formed and is run by a well-known Christian conservative, Beverley LaHaye. Its original purpose was anti-abortion (one of these days I’ll post about why I do not consider most of these people to be, as they call themselves, pro-life), but it has diversified.
I was handed this brochure at a session of a five-part series on Islam by a man who has been harassing local people with anti-Muslim literature and opinion. The brochure is entitled “Sharia Law: A Threat to America as We Know It.” It relies on quotes from several conservative pundits including former Speaker of The House Newt Gingrich. It strikes me as the height of irony for Gingrich to be speaking out on behalf of women considering his personal history, but let’s put that aside.
This brochure makes no distinction whatever between Islamism (the Muslim extremism represented by the Wahhabi and Salafi movements). Of course, most likely, these people think they are the only real Christians, so it is understandable that they equate all of Islam with its fundamentalist extremists. That is a big lie. Islamic extremists represent only a small percentage of the world’s Muslims and an even tinier percentage of American Muslims.
It cites conditions in Saudi Arabia, which is unique among Muslim states, for its repressive form of Islam. One of the speakers at our program was asked which Muslim nations most truly reflect Muslim tradition in practice. She answered, “none of the Arab states,” and named the nation with the most Muslims, Indonesia, as the best in these terms. The CWA brochure makes no distinctions and cites the worst case as a general description of Islam in practice.
Their complaint about Sharia is that it is not a faith but a way of life encompassing every area of life. To a Jew this is a very nasty implication. Judaism is a way of life whose laws and teachings cover every aspect of human experience. There are many civil laws involved but the principle for us is “The Law of The Land is the law.” The same principle applies to normative Islam. Muslims living in a non-Muslim state are obligated to live by the laws of that state in all civil matters. My guess is that the people at CWA want to see our nation run under what they think of as Biblical law (the term for this is Dominionists). I know no American Muslim, no matter how religious, who wants America ruled by Islamic (let alone Islamist) law. Nor is there any remote likelihood that any religious legal system will become the law of the land. This is flagrant fear-mongering.
As for Biblical law, I know a thing or two about that. One of the points made in the brochure has to do with Sharia-compliant finance (FCS) which is investment funds that honor Muslim moral and ethical principles. This has become a huge phenomenon since such funds currently control about $400 billion in investments. I know a little something about this too. Jewish law has a lot to say about how business is to be conducted in a moral and ethical manner. I have studied these laws and principles and was once in communication with a Wall Street financier who asked me about how Jewish tradition would set up an investment fund based on moral principles. His was one of the first of these funds.
Most prominently this involves a prohibition on charging interest. This is a flatly stated Biblical principle (Exodus 22:15 and Luke 6:30, 35) and several other places). I have yet to meet a Christian in finance who wants to uphold this principle, but Jewish and Muslim law do. Yes, we use some interesting ways around this in order to conduct business, but the best form of finance in both traditions involves honoring this principle. Sharia-compliant also means not investing in alcohol, tobacco, gambling, and several other areas of moral and ethical interest. Fair conduct in the marketplace are also in Jewish and Muslim rules. The attack on FSCs is, in a very real sense, a denial of actual Biblical principles.
The bottom line is the assertion that “Sharia is a necessary precondition to Islamicizing a society.” The “expert” cited is Andrew McCarthy, a conservative pundit who has made a career out of anti-Muslim fear-mongering.
We’ve been here before. Jews have been accused of similar things for centuries, including in this country. We were accused of trying to bring down Christianity and Western civilization by Henry Ford and Fr. Coughlin, by Readers’ Digest, and by some who still write these things even now. This is flat-out bigotry and hate-mongering and is cousin to the Klan and the Christian Identity movement. It is a misuse and misrepresentation of Christianity. It is flat out vile.
Next week I will be speaking at the last session of the program on Islam. This person with his brochures is sure to be there. He has a sense of mission. If I were to speak to him today it would be in anger. That would make him a victim, as would shaming him (shaming a person in public is considered the moral equivalent of bloodshed – an idea I wish could be honored by today’s political commentators). Somehow, by Wednesday afternoon, I will find a way to address this collection of half-truths, lies, and fabrications. I pray I will keep my anger in check.
Just to leave my readers with a laugh, here are the lyrics to a song by the Austin Lounge Lizanrds.
We’d like to set the record straight by singing of the newt
For newts are open-minded; they are flexible and cute
A newt can breathe in water and a newt can breathe on land
And if you are a different critter newts will understand
Newts are not mean-spirited; they never are unfair
Newts are not underhanded and are not afraid to share
Newts do not have bad haircuts because newts are lacking hair
But the newt called Gingrich drives all true newts to despair
Gingrich the Newt’s a disgrace to the name
When true newts see him they feel so ashamed
He’s the black sheep of the newt family
The one rotten fruit on the newt family tree
Newts don’t prey on other newts; in that they don’t believe
And you will never catch a newt with something up his sleeve
They’re tolerant to different environments and so
They don’t send little newties to the orphanage to grow
What kind of newt wears a suit and a tie
And frightens small children as he rushes by?
But we admit that his suit suits him good
Much more discreet than a sheet and a hood
A newt may be cold-blooded but he won’t go to extremes
And you can trust a newt to be exactly what he seems
Newts are sorry if you’re sad; they’re happy if you’re gay
But Gingrich is perverse, and worse
He’s proud to be that way
Gingrich the Newt is puffed up like a toad
So full of himself that he’s bound to explode
And then we’ll raise up our tails in salute
A fitting tribute
To that horse’s patoot
Gingrich the Newt
Lyrics from <a href=”http://www.elyrics.net”>eLyrics.net</a>