An essay donated by Rabbi Allen S. Maller
A Rabbi warns against Islamophobia:
A survey of 1,000 likely U.S. voters conducted on 2015-NOV-17 and 18 finds that 60% believe the U.S. is at war with radical Islamic terrorism. Just 24% disagree. By party affiliation 56% of Democrats believe America is at war with radical Islamic terrorism, compared to 70% of Republicans and 54% of unaffiliated voters. 1
Of all voters, 92% now regard radical Islamic terrorism as a serious threat to the U.S. This includes 73% who say the threat is a "very serious" one, up 23 points from 50% in October 2014.
Another recent poll shows that a majority of Americans (56 percent, including even larger majorities in all the major Christian denominations) say the values of Islam are at odds with American values according to the Public Religion Research Institute’s annual American Values Survey (of 2,695 U.S. adults), released November 17. 2
That’s a significant rise of nine points in just the last four years since 2011, when Americans were evenly split, with 47 percent saying Islamic values were incompatible while 48 percent disagreed.
A very slow economic recovery, legalizing gay marriage, and ongoing terrorism in, and coming from the Middle East, make millions of American’s fearful for America’s future.
Widespread doubt about America’s future has split Americans in half — 49 percent to 49 percent — on whether “America’s best days are ahead of us or behind us.” This anxiety had produced a scapegoat; the religion of Islam, as can been seen in a major rise in Islamophobia in the U.S.
Three large groups of Americans had a major increase in Islamophobia; and three smaller groups only had a small rise, or no raise at all.
The three groups of Americans having large numbers of people agreeing with the statement that the values of Islam are at odds with American values are:
- White evangelical Protestants (up 14 points to 73 percent from 59 percent in 2011);
- White mainline Protestants (up 16 points to 63 percent from 47 percent); and
- Catholics (up 20 points to 61 percent from 41 percent).
The three groups that did not show a significant rise in Islamophobia are all American minorities:
- Only 55 percent of black Protestants said Islamic values were incompatible with American values (up only 4 points from 51 percent) ;
- Among Jews and “Notas,” 3 people who claim no religious label, there was no rise at all, because statistically speaking a one point difference (to 42 percent from 41 percent) is within the survey's margin of error.
Since Jews are non-Christians, and 95 percent of “nones” are ex-Christians; both groups are usually closer to each other in most surveys than either is to Christian public values.
Many people are very surprised to learn that Jews are much less Islamophobic than Christians even after eight decades of conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.
Most Rabbis would explain the low rate of Islamophobia among Jews by pointing out that Judaism is more compatible with Islam because both religions reject the concept of Jesus as the Son of God, and the doctrine of original sin. Most of the non-Jews who convert to Judaism [about 3,000 to 5,000 a year] do so because they reject the doctrine of original sin and while they do believe in God, they cannot believe that God has a son.
For this the Jewish People suffered for centuries in Europe from religious extremism and intolerance, so Jews tend to be suspicious of all religious bigotry and scapegoating. This may be the best explanation of the Jewish disavowal of Islamophobia in America.
Also, all rabbis know that during the ten plus centuries of the Medieval Age, Jews were persecuted much less in Muslim countries than they were in Christian countries. Even today, Muslim extremist terrorists have slaughtered many more Muslim victims, than the number of Christian and Jewish victims combined.
In 2014 according to the Global Terrorism Index the Islamic State slaughtered 6,073 people, the great majority of them Muslims; and Boko Haram murdered even more victims: 6,644.
Everyone should be constantly reminded that religious extremism is ultimately self-destructive to itself, and its supporters. In the words of the poet W. B. Yeats:
“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold. ... The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”
The time has come for all the best of religious conviction, to denounce and denigrate the activities and beliefs of those who are filled with the worst of religious conviction, before they desecrate and diminish us all.
Rabbi Maller’s web site is at: rabbimaller.com
- "60 percent of voters say the U.S. is at war with ‘radical Islamic terrorism’: Rasmussen Reports," Washington Times, 2015-NOV-20, at: http://www.washingtontimes.com/
- "Anxiety. Nostalgia, and Mistrust: Findings from the 2015 American Values Survey," Public Religion Research Institute, 2015-NOV, at: http://publicreligion.org This is a PDF file.
"Notas" are people who are "NOT Affiliated" with a religious group. The term "nones" is more commonly used in the media, but can be confusing because it is a homophone with the word "nuns."
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Original posting: 2015-DEC-30
Latest update : 2015-DEC-30
Author: Rabbi Allen S. Maller