Hope everyone’s enjoying the Faith on Tap Season so far! We’ve got 1 episode left until we break for the summer.
An interesting side conversation has developed as a result of a speaker that Northpark Presbyterian and Kessler Park United Methodist hosted on Sunday. His name is Dr. Todd Green. He’s a former Presbyterian Minister (First Pres. Waco), and now an Assistant Professor of Religion at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Dr. Green has become an expert on the topic of Islamaphobia, and has published a book about his findings on this subject. He can also be seen in a few YouTube clips – HERE and HERE – discussing his ideas.
After last night’s lecture, Jordan Scribner – a Faith on Tap regular, wanted to get some discussion going so he put some of his thoughts into words. Keep in mind that Dr. Green has written several hundred pages on this topic, and what he says in these short excerpts doesn’t sum up his entire position. This is a vastly complex topic, and I’m excited to hear what you have to say after reading Jordan’s reflections.
From Jordan Scribner
It was a great discussion last night, and welcoming to see thoughtful, articulate people addressing issues often reserved for bombastic news reporters and opinion-makers. I walked away with 3 thoughts/questions. Feel free to opine if you would like to discuss.
1) To Dr. Green’s third point about bridging the divide between Muslims and non-Muslims (the “do you know any Muslims in your day-to-day life?” point), my question is: What structural impediments impair our ability to both know, and interact with Muslims on a day-to-day basis? Odds are that we do, in fact, engage daily with Muslims in our jobs, in our schools and in our communities (at least here in North Texas). What prevents us from acknowledging one another as distinct in the ways of our faith? What prevents us from admitting how we identify as faith practitioners? If not for a hijab (just as a yarmulke for Jews), religious identity is usually difficult to ascertain by sight. Has removal of religious discussion from the public domain in fact erected walls that prevent fruitful discussion and learning?
2) While it was addressed directly following a pointed question after the lecture, in my opinion, Dr. Green spends an unnecessary amount of time pinning Islamophobia on “Conservatives” and “Neo-Conservatives”. While portions of these groups certainly ascribe to Islamophobic tenets, prejudice and intolerance spans a broad spectrum of political philosophies. It may be red meat for some in his audience, but with Liberals Bill Maher, Harry Reid and Sam Harris equally yoked to charges of Islamophobia, using a broad brush in linking Islamophobia to Conservative roots undermines the ability to have honest dialogue and drive towards solutions. In fact, one might argue following Dr. Green’s lecture that the simple solution to Islamophobia would be outlawing conservative thought. I assure you, though, doing so would not eradicate Islamophobia.
3) I was disappointed there was not some admission that there are legitimate concerns regarding radical Islam. While it is not up to the Islamic community at large to constantly apologize for their violent brethren (just as it is not up to Christians to apologize for every abortion clinic bombing or all vegans to apologize for damage and harm caused by the Animal Liberation Front), to fail to discuss legitimate concern for radical Islam cripples people from dealing with Islamophobia openly. The inability to separate radical Islam, the roots behind it, and America’s (and other world powers’) role in it, from non-radical Islam results in hushed, quiet conversations rather than open dialogue. It is in these quiet conversations where uncertainty and assumptions reign and opinions are formed. Approaching the subject as if radical Islam neither exists, nor is significant enough to warrant discussion in a presentation on Islamophobia will continue keeping interfaith discussions the exception, rather than the norm.
My apologies if I misrepresented Dr. Green or others. Perhaps he has an entire lecture on radical Islam that just couldn’t fit into this particular forum. Overall, it was a great and timely discussion, and one I hope happens more frequently over time.