Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The future of God's Army

The Chicago Tribune ran a story that caught my eye this morning:
Modeled after the popular, high-stakes Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., 300 pious pupils put their memories to the test in Schaumburg this weekend at the second annual National Bible Bee.

Contestants, ranging in age from 7 to 18, had to recite with precision up to 800 verses from the Old and New testaments to win more than $200,000 in cash prizes.

Organizers say the point of the competition is not only to reward rote memorization, but to set moral compasses at an early age and train disciples to spread the gospel word for word.

"This is the future of God's army," said Tammy McMahan, director of operations for the Bible Bee. "We're equipping the Body of Christ."
Ok let's start from the top of this article.  A National Bible Bee seems pretty innocuous right?  I actually did Bible quizzing when I was a kid.  A book of the Bible would be selected -- James, Hebrews, what have you -- and we would study that book of the Bible intently for several months while having competitions where we faced off against other Bible quizzing teams.  There were people so dedicated to this activity that they would memorize the entire book and be able to answer any type of question about the text: content, context, reciting, etc.  There were regional tournaments, national touraments, all-star teams, the whole nine yards.  So what's my point?

Let's replace everything in this story with Islam:
Modeled after the popular, high-stakes Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., 300 pious pupils put their memories to the test in Dearborn this weekend at the second annual National Qur'an Bee.

Contestants, ranging in age from 7 to 18, had to recite with precision up to 800 verses from various surahs to win more than $200,000 in cash prizes.

Organizers say the point of the competition is not only to reward rote memorization, but to set moral compasses at an early age and train disciples to spread the final revelation of God, word for word.

"This is the future of Allah's army," said Abdullah Rashid, director of operations for the Qur'an Bee. "We're equipping the followers of Allah."
Did I make my point?  A whole swath of Americans (and their number is increasing each and every day it seems) have a deep-seeded fear of Muslims.  There is fear of Muslim names (Bill Maher), Muslim garb (Juan Williams), and fear of the Arabic word for God, Allah.  If public personalities, not even terribly conservative ones, are willingly demonstrating their Islamaphobia, what do you think people in the Bible Belt are saying in the privacy of their own homes?

If ANY Muslim, especially an American Muslim publicly organized a Qur'an memorization competition and stated that those children participating were the "future of Allah's army" there would be an uprising greater than Lower Manhattan or 51 Park Place have ever seen.

Back to the Tribune story about the kids competing in the Bible Bee:
Home-schooled students occupied most of the chairs in the competition's final rounds.
So to top it of, what if those participating in the Qur'an Bee were not in mainstream schools, but were in alternative madrassas where they could be indoctrinated by any crazed parent without the oversight of the schooling system? (Madrassa is the Arabic word for school, often twisted to vaguely mean some sort of terrorist training school)

Most Tribune readers probably didn't blink an eye at this article this morning.  If the article had been about building up 'Allah's army,' 'equipping Allah's followers,' and the competitors coming from 'alternative madrassas' -- there would have been a verifiable shit storm.

2 comments:

Joshua said...

Amen! Great post, Sam.

Gerard said...

Well stated, Sam.

I definitely wish Christians would stop using military/war imagery when speaking because it usually does not serve its proper function - to subvert actual war/military tendencies.