Rooting Out Christian Extremism

NEW YORK - JULY 4:  Shirley Phelps-Roper holds up signs as she joins fellow members of the Westboro Baptist Church, from Topeka, Kansas, as they protest across the street from Ground Zero July 4, 2004 in New York City. The church members believe that because of homosexuals and America's rebelious and immoral conducts, God has brought on acts of terrorism as a way of punishing society.  (Photo by Monika Graff/Getty Images)

 (Photo by Monika Graff/Getty Images)

NPR says “Some Muslim Americans Irritated by Obama’s Call For Them to ‘Root Out’ Extremism.” They quote a Palestinian-American (and BLM) activist, “We would never ask any other faith community to stand up and condemn acts of violence committed by people within their groups.” Yet this call is a cornerstone of every international framework on the table to contain Muslim extremism. Although military and economic warfare have effects on ISIS’s turf lines and financing, everyone acknowledges that in the end the real battle is one for “hearts and minds.”

But Muslim communities have few examples to follow within American borders. Christian extremists bomb and shoot up the few Planned Parenthood clinics that have survived waves of de-funding. They picket veteran funerals, corrupt science and history and sex ed, and deny gay rights. If we expect the Islamic world to spiritually heal itself from within, American moderate and progressive religious leaders need to take greater advantage of their freedoms of speech and assembly to condemn and police toxic attitudes and practices in their neighboring churches.

Instead, fueled by the public’s love of sensationalism, the most prominent religious figures in America continue to build on the “us versus them” mentality their recruitment relies on. Muslims are demonized and de-humanized to the point NATO armed forces are our primary messenger to the Middle East. Hate in various forms is preached from thousands of American pulpits. The Word of God trumps social science and secularism is heresy.

There are legal approaches to the problem, some suggested by Christians against Muslims in America, such as shutting down mosques deemed to spread hate speech. Many a Baptist church might find itself in hot water if their own sermons were found by a judge to be inciting or otherwise politically incorrect. The threat of losing tax exempt status might be enough to make some congregations sing a different hymn.

But what of the True Believers, who implore their flock to pray for the unborn so passionately that members are moved to take violent action against Planned Parenthood? Can a progressive Christian convince the Pope that abortion is a necessity? How do you convince a Baptist speaker-of-tongues their children deserve a full education? How do we convince Christians that secular law appropriately overrules the Bible?

Before demanding that Muslims clean up their collective act, we should consider how to begin that dialog at home.

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Jay is Editor In Chief of The Agonist, veteran and technologist.

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