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.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Calling all Christians who aren't hypocrites

Aziz Abu Sarah, a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem who splits his time between Palestine and Washington DC, where he teaches at George Mason University, speaks to Christians of the West in his recent post that appeared at +972 magazine.

Abu Sarah critiques a recent (Islamaphobic, uber-zionistic, and misinformed) Ynet column written by Johnnie Moore -- an evangelical American minister and vice president of Liberty University, a university founded by Jerry Falwell -- to demonstrate the Western Christian establishment's hypocritical and unconditional embrace of the Israeli state and its policies at the expense of any, and all Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim. 
I must say that I don’t understand Christians who value the life of one group over another. Even if American Christians consider Muslims as enemies, in the New Testament Jesus commanded his followers to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them.  The word he used for “love” in Greek (agapao) means to entertain or to welcome in. This concept seems to be in direct opposition to the doctrine of Islamophobia spread by many Christian evangelical groups in the United States. Moreover, Isaiah says “”Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” The scripture does not apply only to Jews, to the “foreigner” and “alien.” Hundreds of millions of Americans profess to be Christians and believe in the divine inspiration of these verses, so where are these “believers” when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Moore’s article is a reminder that many American Christians view supporting Israel as a tenant of faith, without thinking critically about the theological and practical implications of this viewpoint. As Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, “they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.” Like many Christian groups who visit Israel, Moore’s group did not bother to visit any Palestinian towns. My guess is that neither Moore nor any of his church members have ever even met a Palestinian. Perhaps then their demonization of Palestinians is unsurprising.
Go read Aziz Abu Sarah's column in total.


Lars Albrecht said...

good article.. the author says he does not understand christians who value the life of one group over the other.
This is where I ask, but is that not the values of a muslim? it is written as such in the Koran.
Like all religions, Islam is uncompromising, for it believes that it is the holder of the ultimate truth. However, contrary to the others, it is the only creed born out of an act of violence and the only one that glorifies violence in its holy book.

Michael Valentine said...

Gee Lars,
I can't help what other people do, I can only answer for myself. As a Christian it is my duty to love my neighbor and honor God.

Turning the other cheek is good advice from our fount of wisdom and Word of God.

Peace of Christ to you.

Drew Nichols said...

I fail to see the Islamiphobia in the original article. Maybe I am equally misinformed (probably am). Maybe I'm too tired to read this critically.

Moore's article does not seem inflamatory to me. Are the experiences he described lies? He's not blaming all of palistine. Do you blame all Israelis for the injustices you wtiness? It is possible they are all to blame, but I doubt it. It appears to me that we're getting the typical media bias that the extremes are somehow a stereotype for an entire group of people.

Drew Nichols said...

After reading again I could see how this might be inflamatory. "In fact, these shameful acts should be an embarrassment to every supporter of the Palestinian cause. Instead, like the ones before it, this act of war will be met with cheers in Hamas’ training camps even as Palestinian leaders give lip service to the international community and condemn the attacks in English, while praising them privately in Arabic". Honestly, I'm too uninformed to know of any examples he might refer to when he says "like the ones before".

Hosey said...

Lars, it is simply untrue to claim that Islam is the only religion that glorifies violence in its holy book. Take a crack at Joshua and Judges (where several figures among the ancient Israelites are actually punished for only destroying most things instead of EVERYthing during holy war) or at the imagery in the Book of Revelation. Or, say, Psalm 137, which ends with "happy are those who smash your little ones against the rocks."

The fact is that we need to read all of our holy texts with a critical eye to original context, our own context, and the kergymatic truth being expressed in the midst of these intersecting contexts.