My first guest post of 2017 comes from my younger sister’s longtime friend, and thoughtful American, Kyle Twenty. No additional setup needed. Just read….
There’s been an idea germinating in my head for awhile now. This is an attempt to more fully work it out. I’m seeing increased hypocrisy amongst some of the very grassroots Christian movements using fear tactics and hate speech to justify Islamophobic actions.
It’s like this. Despite impassioned words to the opposite effect, many Americans seem to want Sharia law. As counterintuitive as it sounds, recent actions and decisions in this country have led me to believe that the same people who denounce the Islamic faith and everything it stands for, are the ones who are craving Sharia life the most. Allow me to explain.
Literally translated, Sharia means “the path to the watering hole,” or “the right path.” A recent description I encountered labels Sharia “…a religious code for living, in the same way the Bible offers a moral system for Christians.” Sharia deals with nearly every aspect of daily life, including politics, economics, banking, business law, contract law, sexuality, and social issues.
Growing up in a conservative, Midwestern, Christian family that regularly attended church, these spheres of influence were often topics for the Sunday sermon. The homilies that emanated from the preacher covered all of the above, interspersed with passages from the Bible that were meant to provide models for adapting the teachings into daily life and relationships.
I’ve been fortunate to be exposed to ceremonies from many religions of the world: Presbyterian, Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Jewish, and yes, Islam. While I don’t pretend to understand every intricacy and nuance, all of these faiths use teachings of the past to help guide followers in the present and future. So though in name origin, “Sharia” hails from the Muslim culture, in practice the idea is part of every religious theology. In effect, all faiths have their own Sharia.
So why it is that many people who denounce Islamic Sharia have no struggle accepting Christian Sharia into their hearts and lives? It’s a rhetorical question to which I have no immediate answer. Perhaps it’s a lack of education or curiosity about other faiths. Maybe it’s a deep-rooted, hereditary fear laced with racial prejudice. Perhaps it is Christian dogma itself, which instructs the faithful to “Put no other Gods” before the Lord, or that “No one comes to the Father, if not through” (presumably) white Jesus.
Regardless of the motives, there is a decades-long movement at work in the United States to introduce more Christian law into conservative politics. Just like Islamic Sharia, many legislative leaders are interweaving religious dogma into governance, attempting to define how we should live. What is this if not Sharia?
The rampant fear of Islam and Islamic Sharia that’s overtaking the country stems from a very vocal minority of Muslims who misuse parts of the Qur’an to justify hatred and violence. These fringe members of the faith look at verses which state “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore, strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them, or “And fight with them until there is no more fight and religion should be only for Allah.” The extremists choose to interpret these words literally, without any review of context. And for convenience sake, Christians with a fear and loathing of Islam identify these same passages as “proof” of the religion’s malice. They fail to realize their own hypocrisy as they stand, clutching their King James Bibles, accusing Islamic Sharia of breeding chaos.
Before Christian Americans cast any more proverbial stones, perhaps we should take a look at our own Book. Deuteronomy 17:2-5 states that “If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the Lord thy God, in transgressing his covenant, And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and enquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel; Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.”
Even the more forgiving New Testament, which forms the basis for modern Christianity, chimes in with these two gems. Luke 19:27 – “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.” Matthews 10:34 -“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.”
Here we have two holy texts – the Qur’an and the Bible – with verses taken out of context, inciting violence. How exactly is this different?
Based on the excerpts offered, the conclusion could be drawn that, in a vacuum, Christian Sharia is a system just as violent as the Islamic variety. But for sociopolitical expediency, we ignore the Bible’s angry rhetoric. It’s there and we make peace with it as part of a larger belief system. Yet we’re unable to afford Muslim practitioners the same latitude.
In the end, it’s very simple. “Extremists” are those who try to push the boundaries of religious law – any religion – to gain power and justify inhumanity.
I ask you to consider the following question. What are the qualitative differences between the Islamic Sharia rejected with such vitriol by so many, and the conservative Christian Sharia being used to dominate and inflict pain upon the country in 2017?
Kyle Twenty is a 15-year veteran of the broadcast industry, from which he eventually escaped to settle in the suburbs of Chicago with his wife, two children, and their assortment of pets. He spends his time trying to use logic, reason, and facts to win over the hearts and minds of others, demonstrating that there are many sides to issues of the human condition. You can contact Kyle via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @gpsdetour.