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REACTIONS BY FELLOW FUNDAMENTALISTS AND OTHER EVANGELICALS TO VERBAL ATTACKS ON MUSLIMS

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A group of Fundamentalist Christian religious leaders and columnists verbally criticized Islam in the aftermath to the 9-11 terrorist attacks. After a delay of over a year, some Fundamentalist and other Evangelical religious leaders responded to the criticisms:

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Reaction by Southern Baptist missionaries to the verbal attacks:

A group of over two dozen Southern Baptist missionaries who are attempting to spread conservative Christianity in countries with a large Muslim majority in the Middle East, North Africa, East Africa and South Asia have issued a letter asking their fellow Baptists in America to refrain from verbally attacking Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. It said, in part: "Comments by Christians in the West about Islam and Muhammad can and do receive much attention in our cities and communities on local radio, television and print sources....These types of comments...can further the already heightened animosity toward Christians, more so toward evangelicals, and even more so toward Baptists. We have found it more beneficial with our Muslim friends to concentrate on sharing Christ in love and concentrating on the message of the gospel, instead of speaking in a degrading manner about their religion or prophet." The letter was brought from the Middle East to the U.S. by a professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. The Biblical Recorder, a news journal for North Carolina Baptists, first published it. 1

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Evangelical Christians discuss verbal attacks on Islam:

The National Association of Evangelicals [NAE], which represents more than 43,000 conservative Protestant denominations, helped organize a meeting on 2003-MAY-7 to deal with attacks by leading Fundamentalist religious leaders on Islam. The Institute on Religion and Democracy, a conservative Christian group in Washington that often critiques mainline Protestantism, co-sponsored the meeting. Among the most hate-filled original comments were those by:

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Franklin Graham who called Islam "a very evil and wicked religion:"

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A former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Rev. Jerry Vines, who called the Prophet Muhammad "a demon-possessed pedophile," and

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Jerry Falwell's comment that "Muhammad was a terrorist.

At the meeting, concern was express that the verbal attacks on Islam by Jerry Falwell, Franklin Graham, Benny Hinn, Pat Robertson, Jimmy Swaggart and others fed the widespread perception  in the Middle East that the war on terrorism is really a Christian crusade against Islam. "The [40] evangelical leaders...issued what one of them called a 'loving rebuke' to their colleagues for remarks that they said tarnished American Christians and jeopardized the safety of missionaries and indigenous Christians in predominantly Muslim countries." 2

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The Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the NAE said: "We must temper our speech. There has to be a way to do good works without raising alarms." He suggested that a meeting be held with Falwell, Robertson and other high-profile Fundamentalist Christians to explain the damage their comments have caused.

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Paul Marshall, senior fellow at the human rights group Center for Religious Freedom said that attacks on Islam serve only to antagonize people. "Exactly what is to be achieved by that except boosting the ego of who said it?"

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Hodan Hassan, spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was encouraged by the meeting. She said: "We can understand theological differences but what's important is that the dialogue is one of respect, not demonization."

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Clive Calver, president of World Relief, the humanitarian aid arm of the NAE, said that the attacks have "placed lives and livelihoods at risk" overseas, where missionaries have become targets of Muslim extremists. He said that Mr. Graham's comments had been circulated widely throughout the Middle East. "It's used to indict all Americans and used to indict all Christians."

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Rich Cizik, a NAE vice-president said that for some conservative Christians, Islam has replaced communism as the "modern-day equivalent of the evil empire...We've got to have an attitude of how can we serve, how can we help. Saying Islam is evil isn't going to help any of us." 3 Referring to the clash of civilizations theory promoted by author Samuel P. Huntington, Cizik said: "If the hard right has its way, we will have a Huntington."

Beliefnet posted the Associated Press report and encouraged its visitors to offer comments about the meeting. A common response was that the meeting attendees were not primarily concerned about the accuracy of the attacks on Islam; they were worried about the danger that their missionaries face. 4

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References:

  1. "Baptist Group Urges Respect for Islam," Washington Post, 2003-JAN-18, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
  2. Laurie Goodstein, "Top Evangelicals Critical of Colleagues Over Islam," New York Times, 2003-MAY-8, at: http://www.nytimes.com/
  3. Rachel Zoll, "Evangelicals condemn anti-Islam remarks," 2003-MAY-8, at: http://www.beliefnet.com/
  4. "News & Society: Evangelicals condemn anti-Islam remarks," Beliefnet, at: http://www.beliefnet.com/

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Site navigation:

 Home > Religious hatred > Worldwide > Verbal attacks > here

or Home > Christianity > Christians & other religions > Verbal attacks > here

or Home > World Religions > Islam > Verbal attacks > here.

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Copyright 2001 & 2003 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2003-JAN-19
Latest update: 2003-MAY-9
Author: B.A. Robinson

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