As the rift between Iran and Saudi Arabia widens, troubles, hardships and difficulties continue unabated in the Middle East and the Muslim world, the following article by Luke Brinker caught my eye while scanning the web the other day:
“Americans overwhelmingly support safeguarding religious liberties for Christian believers, but they're less keen on protecting Muslims' religious liberties, a new national survey found.
The poll, from the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, found that 82% of Americans consider it extremely or very important to protect Christians' freedoms, while only 61% think it's important to protect Muslims' freedoms.
While Republicans were slightly less willing to support religious liberty protections for Muslims, preference for Christians' religious liberties transcends the partisan divide. According to the poll, 88% of Republicans and 83% of Democrats see Christians' religious freedoms as important, compared with 60% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats who think it's also important to protect Muslims' religious liberties.
“The findings come as no surprise to Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"It's to be expected that people would favor the rights of their own group above others," Hooper told Mic. What most concerns CAIR, he said, is the larger political context of anti-Muslim sentiment in the wake of terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California. Hate crimes against American Muslims have spiked since the attacks, stoked, Hooper argued, by inflammatory political rhetoric.” (End of excerpt.)
It is essential to Mr. Hooper, Muslims and people everywhere that Christian freedoms are carefully observed, respected, protected and maintained. In recent times, Christianity has become fodder for comedians, labeled as divisive, narrow minded and prejudicial.
We have been evicted out of the schools and the public square, seemingly relegated to back alley status -- a religion practiced only by the weak, uneducated, unsophisticated, and the hopelessly hypocritical.
In this kind of atmosphere, one sometimes feels that he or she should apologize for being a Christian, and should remain quiet about our thoughts and principles, leaving such behavior to the dark outer reaches of society. Influenced by Satan and promoted by the intellectuals on college campuses, maintained by the media and allowed by a tolerant culture, we focus our attention on the 20% of misdeeds and conveniently disregard the 80% of good deeds occurring in the Christian World. Our evil acts are magnified and published ad infinitum, while our good acts are quickly forgotten and consigned to the neglected dust bin of history.
Being intellectually lazy and inclined towards negativity we develop, form and hold as undisputed truth the minority view, opinion and deeds of an organization without further objective investigation. This is unfair, unethical and unreasonable. We are quick and ready to find an excuse and explanation for the missteps of the other guy, while the Christian person is not afforded the same consideration. Oddly enough, that sentiment is derived from the Christian notion of grace.
Nevertheless, back to my main point, as to why Mr. Hopper and others should be overjoyed at the results of the poll which demonstrate the higher value placed on Christian freedoms relative to those of Muslims.
“Why?” you may inquire. Why is that so good? I am glad you asked.
Pull up a chair, take out your IPad, tablet or laptop, click on the google icon, fasten your seatbelts, as we enter the zone of information overload, we are about to embark on a fast and furious, whirlwind tour through the Christian community. Because of our philosophy, we Christians have been taking on the chin for so long that many people have come to disregard our faith as not beneficial to the human race and indeed may even be harmful. The absolute opposite is true -- strict, genuine adherence to Christianity may be the best hope for mankind.
Everything I will say in the succeeding paragraphs can be verified, historically or biblically. Please do not take my word for anything. I do not want to influence your opinion in any way. Yes! Read but verify. Then accept or reject. Acceptance and acquiescence by blind faith is not allowed.
The Historical Perspective
Christianity is a movement initiated and disseminated by Jewish adherents of Jesus Christ. They were originally called followers of the way because Jesus referred to himself as the “Way, the Truth and the Life.” Additionally, he taught them rules of conduct that appeared starkly different in some aspects from the Jewish roots and belief systems to which they, for generations, had believed and practiced.
Jesus’ whole existence during his time here on earth was to convey the message that your individual life and comfort was not really important. If your particular dreams, desires and goals would interfere or hamper the progress of the other guy, you were supposed to deny or subjugate all of your plans to allow the other person to progress, survive and get ahead. Moreover, he was always prodding us to find a seat at the table for the downtrodden, forgotten, forsaken and despised of society.(More on that later) This commitment was of such paramount significance that one should remain steadfast in fulfilling it even to the point of death. You may recall that even though he was declared innocent by the Roman governor, the ruling authority of the day, he was still crucified at the behest of his Jewish brethren.
In later years, throughout the Roman Empire, this particular Christian trait was abused by the majority pagan populace, employing Christians as sporting prey for the lions in the arenas. The perverse, sadistic emperor Nero blamed them for the burning of Rome, further alienating them and exacerbating their already troubled lives. His bloodlust -- so extreme and twisted that he used them as human candles and torches to illuminate the gardens of his palace. Crucifixions and wholesale slaughter were so commonplace that many members of the new faith fled underground, literally and figuratively, to ensure the continued survival of their sect.
Nevertheless, even the best of messages can be corrupted when the zealous, passionate starters disappear from the scene. During the succeeding centuries, horrible, despicable things were done while “spreading the gospel,” for which we should be justifiably condemned and ashamed.
We witnessed, in the name of Christ, the crusades, slavery, unforgiving colonization, victimization and extinction of indigenous peoples, the holocaust, the bombing of abortion clinics, the virulent Westboro Baptist church protests, the Christian Dove World Outreach burning of the Qurans, the longstanding conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, Bible-toting confederate generals fighting to maintain brutal servitude of Africans and the vicious system of Apartheid in South Africa.
Even though the above are misguided, distorted expressions of our beliefs, inconsistent with the intent of the founder of the religion, the world never let us forget it, ever ready to bring to the fore our failures and shortcomings.
Furthermore, for Christians of color, they ridicule our belief as a “white man’s religion,” being used as a ploy to exploit and dominate us. Interestingly, no mention is ever made of the fact that the founder and all the early disciples were not Caucasian but native born Middle Eastern Semitic Jews.
However, a core element of our faith is acknowledgement of our sins and the seeking of redemption, renewal and restoration. Therefore, even in the darkest days of our history, which people conveniently fail to highlight and recognize, there existed people acting as counterweights, urging us from the dark side to the light and reminding us of our primary mission—to produce, maintain, protect and elevate humanity.
Men and women like Paul the Apostle, St. Augustine, St. Patrick of Ireland, Francis of Assisi, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Ignatius of Loyola, Fr. Juniper Serra, recently elevated to sainthood, William Wilberforce, Abraham Lincoln, General Oliver Howard, The Quakers and underground railroad conductors, Mother Teresa, Corrie Ten Boom, Oskar Schindler, Fr. Maximilian Kolbe of Auschwitz fame, Fr. Damien of Hawaii, Jim Elliot, Albert Schweitzer, David Livingstone, Desmond Tutu, William Carey, Doctors Without Borders and countless, unnamed missionaries the world over who forsook the comforts of home to labor in unfamiliar foreign fields, often at the expense of life and limb for the benefit of their fellow man.
Furthermore, all of the art, architecture, music, literature and laws spanning hundreds of years were either inspired or influenced by, or based on Christian ideals. Michelangelo’s La Pieta and Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s Madonna, Christopher Wren’s cathedrals, Handel’s Messiah, all shared that unmistakable Christian theme or connection.
Even the literary creations of Robin Hood and Ebenezer Scrooge were thinly veiled attempts to cause us to reflect on the Christian values of justice, fair play and motto—“always remember the poor.”
V. Knowles is a husband, father and prison minister with an interest in penning issues that serve to uplift mankind. He melds his love for Classic literature, The Bible and pop culture - as sordid as it may be - into highly relatable columns of truth, faith and justice. Hence the name: Just Thinking. If he's not buried in a book or penning his next column, you may find him pinned to his sectional watching a good old Country and Western flick.