After recent acts of terrorism around the world by radicalized Muslims, many Americans have responded in the worst possible way. Rather than recognize that these evil individuals represent a small minority out of the 1.6 billion people on this planet who believe in Islam, they’ve chosen to give in to fear and hatred.
As an atheist who has rejected the Catholic beliefs I grew up with, I believe that most people of all religions tend to mean well, even though my personal belief is that they are all misguided.
A lot of conservatives and Islamophobes have given me grief because they think I am defending Islam as a religion, or that I’m promoting it over Christianity or Judaism. Make no mistake, Islam has its share of issues and modern day problems that need to be called out and dealt with – just as Christianity and most other major religions do as well. The thing that needs to be remembered is, this is the United States of America.
The First Amendment clearly states that the government should not, and cannot, favor one religion over another. Our country has had a long and troubled history with religion, including burning women at the stake for the suspicion of witchcraft, or justifying slavery with the Bible.
Now Donald Trump and many people who support him have proposed radical restrictions and discrimination against people who believe in Islam, simply because some individuals who claim to share their beliefs have committed unspeakable acts of violence.
If we were to follow their line of reasoning, we would discriminate against conservative Christians due to their long, documented history of burning people at the stake – or even because the KKK calls itself a Christian organization. Along the same train of rhetoric Donald Trump has embraced, we would also bar Irish people from this country because of Sinn Fein, an Irish terrorist organization that he attended a fundraiser for in New York back in 1995.
Nearly every religion over thousands of years has a history of violence committed in its name, and Islam is certainly no exception. The conflict between Christianity and Islam goes back to the Crusades, and many evangelical Christians believe that the current war with ISIS is part of Biblical prophecies that will bring about the return of Jesus Christ. This is a major factor in their support for Israel in recent years, a change from earlier American history where Jews were often seen as second-class citizens.
The hatred that Donald Trump and the far right are promoting against Muslims is exactly what the extremist minority groups like ISIS/Daesh and Al-Qaeda want. This rhetoric is free propaganda for them to use on social media in order to convince Muslims who have little or no contact with Western culture that America is the Great Satan, and that their lives of misery under extremist rule can easily be traded for eternal paradise – simply by carrying out a major atrocity in some form or another.
I’m defending the majority of Muslims who aren’t responsible for the evil that is ISIS/Daesh, just as I as a white male am personally not responsible for the KKK, Sinn Fein, the Crusades, or gunning down police officers at Planned Parenthood. I’m defending Muslims in America because they are a minority here, and because I am a liberal, I believe in the equality of all people under the Constitution. This isn’t a promotion of one religion over another, it’s simply being a decent and rational member of the human race.
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