In our debate about Muslims and the values and practice of Islam, how often have I heard or read:
“If Islam isn’t violent and extremist where are the other voices?
Why aren’t other Muslims speaking up?”
I found myself thinking about that again in the last couple of days.
Not in terms of Islam or Muslims,
but in terms of Christianity and Christians.
The public voice of Christianity seems to be Mike Huckabee and Kim Rowan.
Ben Carson questions whether or not a Muslim should ever be President.
Donald Trump thumps his Bible on a campaign stop and says, “See. I am one of you.”
And I wonder…where are the other voices?
Yes, we hear about Pope Francis, but where are the other Christian voices which, while we may disagree on some of the issues facing us, don’t denigrate or demonize those with whom we disagree or perpetuate the rumor that President Obama is Muslim and not an American citizen? Where are the other Christian voices that speak up for respect and compassion and kindness? Christians claim to believe in a God of love and yet the Christian voices we hear and read about are all about judgement and anger and finger pointing and blaming. To tell you the truth, if that is Christianity I don’t want to have anything to do with it.
Of course, there are the other voices.
In Christianity and in Islam.
(And Judaism and Buddhism and Hinduism and…)
They just don’t make the news.
Or the campaign stop.
Or provide sound bytes to post on Twitter.
They are the voices (and the people) who show up at food pantries across the country and do their best to provide much needed food for neighbors who are hungry. They are the ones who give a Saturday or a weekend and work to repair homes for those who live in substandard housing. They are the ones who open their doors and open their arms to provide places of welcome and safety to those who, all to often, find themselves on the fringes of the community.
They don’t shout.
They don’t scream.
They don’t make the news.
They just do their best to keep their families together and to make their communities better.
So, where is all this rambling going?
On my own little soapbox in my own little corner of the world, I want to do my best to say that Mike Huckabee and Pat Robertson and Donald Trump are extremist voices and DO NOT speak for me or represent what I understand to be the heart of the Christian witness.
They harm more than help.
They tear down far more than they build up.
They are divisive and mean spirited and hurtful and wrong.
To the extent that I am able, I am that other voice.
I am speaking up.