LAST TIME WE LOOKED AT the first argument in the propaganda email titled "Can a Good Muslim be a Good American," and found, with the application of a little common sense, that it applied just as easily to a good Christian.
Today we take up the next six arguments in that email, starting with number two:
"Religiously - no. . . Because no other religion is accepted by His Allah Except Islam (Quran, 2:256)(Koran)"
Sounds pretty intolerant, right?
Can a good Christian be a good American?
Religiously - no . . . Because no other religion is accepted by his God except Christianity.
Again, common sense.
Every religion thinks that it is the only true religion.
As Tommy Smothers said, it's the one doctrine all religions share—that theirs is the only truth.
But American Christians manage to live every day in this country—which believes in the freedom of all religions—without any major conflict, and so do American Muslims.
There's absolutely no reason to think that the average Muslim takes his religion, or his devotion to God, more seriously than the average Christian does—or more politically.
We are, after all, members of the same species.
"Scripturally - no. . . Because his allegiance is to the five Pillars of Islam and the Quran."
And a Christian?
Scripturally - no . . . Because his allegiance is to the doctrines of Christianity and the Christian Bible.
How many Christians do you know who can't be good Americans because they are devoted to the Bible?
Why should you expect that a Muslim is any different?
Of course, there's a very subtle piece of propaganda in the subtext here—the idea that freedom of religion in America is not sincere.
The propagandist plays both sides of the street on this issue—here he or she uses the assumption, unstated of course, that we have an official state religion to imply that anyone who has a different faith must be un-American.
The founding fathers would have been appalled at this suggestion.
They worked very hard to specifically exclude any idea of an official national religion.
But you can't truly have freedom of religion in a country if some religions are considered more patriotic than others for no reason except that they are somehow declared to be.
And, by the way, those scary "Five Pillars of Islam"?
Reciting the Creed
Giving to the poor
Making a trip to their holy land...
How unpatriotic! You'd never catch a Christian doing any of those!
"Geographically - no . Because his allegiance is to Mecca, to which he turns in prayer five times a day."
The word "allegiance" is getting overused here, and distorted in the process.
Yes, Mecca is the holiest city for Muslims. Yes, it has a special historical significance in their religion. And yes, they turn toward Mecca when they pray.
But Mecca is not the center of their theological authority, as the Vatican is for some American Christians, nor is there anyone there to whom they owe a particular allegiance, as Roman Catholic Christians do to the Pope.
It is simply their holy land, like Jerusalem is for all Christians and Jews.
Their special feelings for the place their religion began is no more sinister than a Christian's special feeling for the tomb of Jesus, and far less political than a Roman Catholic's deference for the edicts issued from the Vatican.
Good old American common sense.
"Socially - no. . . Because his allegiance to Islam forbids him to make Friends with Christians or Jews."
There is a verse that can be interpreted this way in the Qur'an, just as there are verses in the Christian and Jewish scriptures that some interpret in the same way.
A very similar verse in the New Testament admonishes Christians not to be "unequally yoked" with non-believers.
I have personally heard more than one pastor argue that this applied to having non-Christian friends, or doing business with non-Christians.
Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all went through similar periods in their history, when what they viewed as the corrupting influences of surrounding cultures caused them to advocate an essentially separatist attitude in general.
But, like most American Christians and most American Jews, most American Muslims actually report that a large proportion of their closest friends are not of their faith:
"With the exception of very recent immigrants, most report that a large proportion of their closest friends are non-Muslims. On balance, they believe that Muslims coming to the U.S. should try and adopt American customs, rather than trying to remain distinct from the larger society."
This is America, where things like that happen.
Once again, common sense.
At this point you should be starting to wonder why someone is sending this kind of propaganda around—designed to make one group of Americans suspicious of another.
It's worth considering, but first, more of the absurd claims:
"Politically - no. . . Because he must submit to the mullahs (spiritual Leaders), who teach annihilation of Israel and destruction of America, The great Satan."
The mullahs are those who are recognized as being trained in the religion, like a priest or a pastor.
There are thousands of them, just as there are thousands of Christian spiritual leaders, from the Pope to the local fundamentalist pastor: some more sane than others.
The term "Great Satan", on the other hand, as applied to the United States, is more a matter political rhetoric than it is of religion, used by politicians in the Islamic world.
But of course many a Christian spiritual leader has condemned the United States for not following their particular set of rules, and even accused this country of falling under the influence of Satan, so this is another reason that a good Christian cannot be a good American.
Common sense, friends.
"Domestically - no. . . Because he is instructed to marry four Women and Beat and scourge his wife when she disobeys him (Quran 4:34)"
This is really two claims, and requires a bit of unpacking:
There is a verse which instructs a Muslim man to marry a widow whose children he has taken responsibility for, just as there is a verse in the Christian Bible which instructs a man to marry his brother's wife, should she become a widow.
And, in other cultures which are closer to the culture of the Biblical patriarchs, there are Muslims who have more than one wife—like Abraham, or Jacob.
But that is not even the main custom in all of the countries with large Muslim populations, and there are fewer Muslim polygamists in the United States than there are Mormon polygamists.
Yet the author of this email isn't calling Glenn Beck un-American.
In fact, there are even non-Mormon Christian Fundamentalist polygamists in the United States.
Is that a reason to say that a good Christian can't be a good American ?
Muslims also have a verse which instructs a husband to strike an immoral wife, just as the Christian Bible has verses which say a woman who has sex outside of marriage, or a disobedient child should be stoned to death.
Both books were written in patriarchal cultures, which assumed that husbands owned their wives and children and had the right to punish them as they saw fit.
And, to this day, there are both Christians and Muslims who will take that same attitude, just as there are even more Christians and Muslims who know better.
If this means that a good Muslim can't be a good American, it also means that a good Christian can't.
Common sense again.
That takes us through seven of the ten points in the email.
Next time, we'll look at
the final three...