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White Evangelicals, Islam and American Values

White Evangelicals, Islam and American Values


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According to the Public Religion Research Institute’s survey, “What it Means to be American: Attitudes towards Increasing Diversity in America Ten Years after 9/11,” “Nearly 6-in-10 white evangelical Protestants believe the values of Islam are at odds with American values, but majorities of Catholics, non-Christian religiously unaffiliated Americans, and religiously unaffiliated Americans disagree.”

If the percentage is accurate, what does this say about American Evangelicalism? That white Evangelicals’ skin color often shapes their perception of Islam? Could it be that white Evangelicals are biased against Arabs and that this prejudice shapes their view of Islam, even though there are, I believe, more Asian Muslims than Arab Muslims? Could it be that white Evangelicals often have nostalgic and/or narrow views of what it means to be American—’white and Christian like me’?

Some white Evangelicals might think they are simply more spiritually and culturally discerning than other Christian groups and the broader populace, and that they understand better what Christian values, American values, and the values of Islam really are (the last set of values being viewed as out of step with the former two). But do Christian values and American values really line up well together? It seems as if many white Evangelicals think they do. Still, could it be that what has gone on for so long is really a subsuming of Christian values under those of America? If so, perhaps the conversation with Islam will cause the church to perceive well where their real fight can be found–not with Islam, but with the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12) that often distort the church’s vision and cause it to align itself with this power or principality rather than the person of Christ and his kingdom reality.

These questions reflect my own consternation with what I find to be a certain kind of cultural hegemony within American Evangelicalism. My hope is that Evangelicalism in this country will become increasingly diverse and expand its vision, missional values, and public witness to the kingdom of God in Christ in view of the Bible even while developing greater openness to various people groups and religious traditions in American society today.

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  • “Thereafter, the violence, crime, teen pregnancy and general disrespect caused the demise of the character of individuals.”

    There might be something to be said about the effect media has had on my generation – and the ones that will come after – or the ‘me’ generation as it seems to be becoming known. Social media and the Internet allows us to do many things as well as experience many things. You can be whomever you want to be online, generally without consequence of lying; you can be the most rotten person in the world and get away scot-free, while declaring ‘freedom of speech’ if anyone tries to stop you. You can bullied by people you don’t even know.

    That said…

    Religion being taught in schools is irrelevant to things like teen pregnancy, the rates of crime or violence (sexual or otherwise). All of these things occurred in the past and I believe there’s a far simpler explanation: media. 60 years ago, in the 1950s, the media wasn’t everywhere like it is today. Now, we can know the exact second something is happening somewhere in the world. Secrets, if put online, really aren’t so secret anymore. Drone strikes, etc. are all in the public eye whereas before, things like that would’ve been hush-hush. This societal meme of ‘everything was so much *better* back then’ is a load of crap. People didn’t become meaner, nasty or brutish because of religion taking a more backseat role to secularism. They were just as murderous, eager to sexually or physically assault others, skip school, get knocked up and otherwise make bad choices just as much as kids today, there just wasn’t a spotlight on them.

    “Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be…”

  • Zakariya Ali Sher

    Morality should be taught at home. If kids aren’t learning it at home, then its the failure of the parents, not society. Sounds harsh but its true. One of the key issues is that the government CANNOT promote any one particular religion or denomination in public schools. That’s not even separation of church and state. Its a common sense issue. Hell, if schools spent all day teaching religion, they’d never get any other subject done.

  • Zakariya Ali Sher

    Doubtful. Remember, most of these same people view the UN as the ‘evil empire.’ In fact, sometimes they claim the UN is working to ‘Islamicize’ Europe. More to the point though, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights isn’t that important. Its a ‘feel good’ proclamation from the UN with little to no legal power to enforce it. Its not like its a law in any country. Not in the US, not in Europe, not anywhere.

    More to the point, most Muslims don’t particularly know or care about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Its more an issue in the abstract. Yes, people object to it, but so do many Buddhists and Asians. As I’ve said before, look up ‘Asian Values.’ It was very big in the 90s, particular with the signing of the Bangkok Declaration. Despite the claims of ‘universality,’ the Universal Declaration of Human Rights IS inherently biased towards Western culture and the idea of religious conversions.

    And, of course, there is not an equal relationship between ‘the West’ and the rest of the world. How many white people convert to Hinduism? How many white people adopt salwar kameez? How many white people watch Nigerian cinema, or learn Turkish as a second language, or regularly eat breadfruit? How many Korean military bases are there on US soil? If Algeria demanded the US hand over prisoners, would they agree? If Samoa demanded reparations for something the US did, what would happen?

    The fact is, Western culture is able to impose its own views on just about every country in the world. Other cultures don’t have that luxury, and many DO want to preserve their own unique culture and identity in the face of western homogeneity.

  • Cosmic Atheist

    I think their animosity towards Islam would decline if more Muslim-majority countries adopted laws in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  • Reynardine

    Yep, I know what you’re talking about. And the *aggression* of these people is astounding.

  • Nur Alia binti Ahmad

    and…perhaps if these were the Evangelicals I met at the time I am describing, my feelings about them would be different.

    Honestly…what is done is done,and it isnt just me.
    History is not forgotten between sex scandals and wardrobe malfunctions where I am from.

    Christianity…and ESPECIALLY Evangelical Christianity have a LONG history. and it weil take a long time to forget.

  • GaribaldiOfLoonwatch

    Let’s remember also that there are Evangelical Christians, such as the one’s at Sojourners who are not interested in crazy right-wing propaganda and who take ads out against Islamophobia. Their main interest is social justice.

  • Sam Seed

    There is Way and there is the American Way (according to Americans). What is this way (not including the Gun way). Yes the American ‘dream’ is for the well off unfortunately, there is also the American nightmare (gun-craze).

  • mindy1

    Evangelicals are not always the most open minded, but glad most of my Americans do NOT feel that way

  • Nur Alia binti Ahmad

    Lets understand that Evanglicals have to explain why they are not making progress in the nations they have infiltrated that arent Christian.
    They dont understand that Christianity in general has been weaponised, and used against the culture and religion of those places colonialists have invaded and occupied.
    Christianity has been used to demonise the social structure, the language, the clothing, the civilization of people that the colonialists disagree with. Somehow, they belive that thier morals and values are better than everyone elses.
    Evangelicals think that history goes away when they leave, or are forced out. They think they have a mandate from God to do whatever it takes for ‘our own good’. They have no respect for the law, the culture, or the people they invade, and when the people cant tolarate them anymore, they claim persecution.
    Yes, I lived through it, I remember it, and I am still afraid of too many Evanglicals comeing to where I live.

  • taqwa1960d

    Being a ex catholic they dont like catholics either I realize the key word for them is hate

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