Recent statements by presidential candidates and other politicians concerning our Muslim neighbors has caused a new of wave of Islamophobia. We deplore statements suggesting we ban Muslims from entering the United States or calling for surveillance and closing of mosques or saying no to admitting Syrian refugees, or even going beyond water boarding in dealing with terrorist suspects. But to have a faith leader such as Jerry Falwell's son who now leads Liberty University to encourage students to carry concealed weapons and "end Muslims" goes beyond the pale of reason and sends a chilling message. And he is not the first faith leader to engage such hate speech.
That does not represent Christianity and nor should it be regarded as the appropriate response to fear and hate. In Luke 10:27 Christ taught his followers to love their neighbor. And as for the refugees people of the Christian faith should remember Leviticus 19:34 which says "The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God." And since Christmas is coming up they should particularly remember Christ's family also were refugees once fleeing a violent Middle Eastern dictator. Hospitality is the answer and not feeding the fear and hatred which only serves the purpose of the terrorists.
And as Americans a whole we need to remember that fear and hate only divides us and serves the purpose of the terrorists. As someone once said people are more impressed by the power of our example than the example of our power.
Henry Jarrett, President
Methodist Federation for Social Action
North Carolina Annual Conference chapter