In college, I studied abroad in London. One of our courses required us to locate some landmarks around the city, one of which was London Central Mosque. I’d never been inside a mosque and chose to go inside. I was welcomed kindly by a male greeter who certainly knew I wasn’t there to worship, as I had no clue what I was doing. He helped me find the spot to remove my shoes, gave me a scarf for my head, showed me where to walk up to in order to see inside. All of it was done with an honest welcoming. As I was leaving, he asked if I would like any literature on Islam and, when I said yes, he gave me a booklet on Islam as well as a hard cover Qur’an which I still have a decade later. There was no pressure. There was no appeal for my phone number or email address. There just was a man who loved his faith and wanted to share it. That was it. I’ve had less welcoming first visits to Christian churches and I AM a Christian.
Since that time, I’ve met many Muslims, I’ve got friends who are Muslim, I’ve taught Muslim children, and I’ve visited Egypt where I was also welcomed with open arms. As a Christian, my experience with Muslims has been nothing but positive and accepting despite our differences in faith.
That being said, it has been painful for me to watch and read the vitriolic commentary on large scale and social media sources regarding the equal treatment of Islamic terrorists and all other Muslims. I am not Muslim any more than I am an African American or adopted or gay, but I love Jesus and I am called to stand up for injustices against those groups and what the media is doing to Muslims is also an injustice. What some Christians are saying about Muslims is an injustice. You don’t have to identify with someone’s race or religion to stand against mistreatment; Jesus teaches this.
I am only one voice and I am not ignorant enough to believe that my one voice is enough to fix an enormous brokenness, but I also don’t want to keep quiet out of feared ineffectiveness. I certainly don’t want to start claiming my faith with all of the disturbing offshoots that somewhere FAR along the line began as Christianity and now promote the marriage of little girls,live in cultish societies, or protest the funerals of people who whom that group views as the very worst of sinners. I also don’t want to define the entire society of white America by the mass murderers, the school shooters, the outspoken racists who happen to also be white. One voice I may be, but with this voice I want to make it clear that I am a Christian and I am white and I vehemently disagree with the hatred flying so free lately under the false veil of patriotism or faith.
There is a powerful piece titled I, Racist, in which the author speaks about institutionalized racism and writes the following for a different story, same plea:
“So I’m asking you to help me. Notice this. Speak up. Don’t let it slide. Don’t stand watching in silence. Help build a world where it never gets to the point where the Samaritan has to see someone bloodied and broken.”
There is always more than one story. Not everyone feels the same, despite how heavily the media would like us to believe. Not all whites are murderers. Not all Christians worship in cults. And not all Muslims are terrorists.