Brian McLaren: Anti-Evangelical Hysteric
Brian McLaren took his “thank you, Lord, that I am not like other evangelicals” routine to CNN this week. In a post artfully titled, “It’s time for Islamophobic evangelicals to choose,” he writes:
I was raised as an evangelical Christian in America, and any discussion of Christian-Jewish-Muslim relations around the world must include the phenomenon of American Islamophobia, for which large sectors of evangelical Christianity in America serve as a greenhouse.
At a time when U.S. embassies are being attacked and when people are getting killed over an offensive, adolescent and puerile film targeting Islam - beyond pathetic in its tawdriness – we must begin to own up to the reality of evangelical Islamaphobia [sic].
The film in question was made by a Coptic Orthodox Christian, and has been supported by a cultist. I’m not sure what it has to do with evangelicalism, but McLaren will make any leap of logic or evience, no matter how ridiculous, to bash his erstwhile brethren.
Many of my own relatives receive and forward pious-sounding and alarm-bell-ringing e-mails that trumpet (IN LOTS OF CAPITAL LETTERS WITH EXCLAMATION POINTS!) the evils of Islam, that call their fellow evangelicals and charismatics to prayer and “spiritual warfare” against those alleged evils, and that often - truth be told - contain lots of downright lies.
Many of his own relatives—well, if that’s the case, I can see why he’d want to tar “large sectors” of American evangelicalism with his broad brush, especially in connection with—gasp!—emails. Reminds me that I need to write that post declaring the entire nation of Nigeria an Internet scam.
For example, one recent e-mail claimed “Egyptian Christians in Grave Danger as Muslim Brotherhood Crucifies Opponents.” Of course, that claim has been thoroughly debunked, but the sender’s website still (as of Friday) claims that the Muslim Brotherhood has “crucified those opposing” Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy “naked on trees in front of the presidential palace while abusing others.”
The specifics have been debunked, but are Copts persecuted in Egypt? Are they killed? Imprisoned without cause? Have their homes and churches destroyed? Their children forced to convert to Islam under threat of their lives? From McLaren’s post, you’d never know that any of that was happening, but he does reject those fallacious emails, by George.
Janet Parshall, for example, a popular talk show host on the Moody Radio Network, frequently hosts Walid Shoebat, a Muslim-evangelical convert whose anti-Muslim claims, along with claims about his own biography, are frequently questioned. John Hagee, a popular televangelist, also hosts Shoebat as an expert on Islam, as does the 700 Club.
It is true that some of Shoebat’s claims have been questioned. Disproved, I’m not sure about. But in any case, he’s one guy. Does an occasional interview with Walid Shoebat really qualify one as an Islamophobe?
In recent days, we’ve seen how irresponsible Muslim media outlets used the tawdry 13-minute video created by a tiny handful of fringe Christian extremists to create a disgusting caricature of all Christians - and all Americans - in Muslim minds. But too few Americans realize how frequently American Christian media personalities in the U.S. similarly prejudice their hearers’ minds with mirror-image stereotypes of Muslims.
“Irresponsible Muslim media outlets.” Those must be the equivalent of the emailers that McLaren is to wee-weed up about. Things like Al-Jazeera, official state TV in Egypt, Saudi state media, things like that.
As for the “mirror-image stereotypes” that evangelicals are supposedly bombarded with, can someone please direct me to the absurd videos that Muslims are making about Jesus? If we’re going to talk “mirror-image” here, then juxtaposing anti-Islam videos with violent mobs in the streets of dozens of Muslim world cities just doesn’t seem fair to me.
Meanwhile, many who are pastors and leaders in evangelicalism hide their heads in the current issue of Christianity Today or World Magazine, acting as if the kinds of people who host Islamophobic sentiments swim in a tiny sidestream, not in the mainstream, of our common heritage. I wish that were true.
Ya know, I’d like very much to oppose in the strongest terms the kinds of stuff McLaren is talking about, but since he has failed to provide any examples beyond a pathetic YouTube video given more attention by the White House than anyone else, and some interviews with one former Muslim, I’m at a loss to know who or what to denounce.
Islamophobic evangelical Christians - and the neo-conservative Catholics and even some Jewish folks who are their unlikely political bedfellows of late - must choose.
Will they press on in their current path, letting Islamophobia spread even further amongst them? Or will they stop, rethink and seek to a more charitable approach to our Muslim neighbors? Will they realize that evangelical religious identity is under assault, not by Shariah law, not by the liberal media, not by secular humanism from the outside, but by forces within the evangelical community that infect that religious identity with hostility?
What is it about former evangelicals-turned-liberals (especially when combined with a new political liberal fervency) that causes them to make such broad-brush, unsubstantiated, and hysterical claims about the people with whom they used to rub shoulders? Is it some kind of initiation ritual into their new tribe, the Internet equivalent of walking the aisle?
Exactly what “current path” is it that evangelicals are supposedly walking? McLaren has in no way demonstrated that there is anything more than a tiny fringe of evangelicals who buy into even what he so laughably calls “Islamophobia” (does listening to a Walid Shoebat interview really mean you think that all Muslims are al-Qaeda operatives?), yet he feels perfectly comfortable making apocalyptic statements about what we “must choose” between. For McLaren, it a choice between sticking your head in the sand and believing that radical Islam consists of nothing more than a few dozens nuts with bomb manuals, and believing that all Muslims are bloodthirsty Saracens ready to rape your daughters and cut off your head at a moment’s notice. Between those two, he’ll go ostrich every time.
The thing is, there’s a third alternative: see the world, and the Muslim population, for what it is, rather than what Brian McLaren or Terry Jones delusionally think it is. Me, I’ll take door number three, Monty.
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