A Double Standard

Frankie, Craig and I spoke to a religious leader of a small group of committed followers in Texas who really got me thinking. I won’t reveal his name or sect right now but wanted to share some of the things he said.


We met the bearded man in his traditional clothes inside his small and non-descript place of worship. Most people in the area would not even know it was there. The group, though a registered faith based group, refuses to take government money for their small school of 16 students. “God,” he said, “takes better care of us than Uncle Sam.” They don’t vote as policy and will not participate in any politics. He didn’t seem to be attached to America at all as a country or as an idea.

He was not happy with the relativism of American culture. “Everyone says this is your opinion, this is my opinion—each person chooses. But what about right and wrong?”

“Justice will come”, he said. “Sodom and Gomorrah didn’t survive and I don’t believe America will either”.

He said that they appreciate the freedom in this country—they obey our laws, pay taxes, pray for others. But if they were told to do something that violates the Holy Book, they would not do it. He said they were not anti-government but that, “we feel like we are an ambassador here, just temporary. Our citizenship is in heaven”.

He told us that his religion was distinctive. He was talking about the his sect but it was also a strong commentary on other sects—not adhering to the Holy book and adding things to it or innovating as it is sometimes called.. He sees too many compromises and not recognizing the authority in the Holy Book.


He faith can be described a simple but strong– ‘Take the Holy Book and add nothing else to it, no politics, no other influences’.

Women are encouraged to stay at home as housewives. He complained that there is a breakdown of home and that is one of the problems in America.

On other religions, he said “at the core, some of their beliefs concern me”. He said they are “fundamentally flawed”. He called tolerance, pluralism, and the idea of a “world system” “satanic”. This included interfaith dialogue, which he dismissed as a “conglomeration of religion.”

His solution to improving relations between different religious groups is to convert all Americans to his religion. He also believes that his religion is spreading in America and strengthening all over the world. He said the key to relations with the Jews was to “convert as many of them as possible” but acknowledged that it “won’t happen,” smiling. “Man,” he said, “is still man, self centered and sinful”.

He talked about being ready to die for his faith and that he would welcome martyrdom. We asked him which book he would recommend for us to learn about his beliefs and the book he recommended was one that celebrated the stories of martyrs.


So who do you think this man is? A Muslim? A Jew? A refugee or immigrant?

Nope, he’s a Pennsylvania born Christian, a Mennonite.

Mennonites are a sect of Protestants that fled Europe after the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries seeking religious freedom in the US. This history can help explain why they are so distrustful of government.

 

The quotes above would have scared a lot of people and caused a panic and a frenzied slew of hysterical (and nonsensical) blog posts by people like Robert Spencer and Michelle Malkin had it come from the mouth of a Muslim. They would be labeled a threat, called a Wahhabi, and maybe some other nonsensical name (jihadist, Islamist, etc). We’ve met some Muslims who have been investigated for less.

So why is it okay for a Christian to say these things but not a Muslim?

Some Muslims have said similar things to us, but most would have vehemently disagreed with the Christian Pastor’s philosophy. The majority of Muslims that we’ve met have taken a much stronger approach to being a part of this country. They want to live here, they are patriotic, they participate, and they cherish the opportunity and religious freedom offered in America.

Personally, I was impressed by The Pastor’s humility and obedience to God even though I disagree with him on a few of his ideas. I brought him up simply to point out a double standard. We are applying much more strict codes of patriotism to Muslims than to non-Muslims and making contradictory demands of the Muslim community.

It’s definitely something worth thinking about.

 

Jonathan Hayden

 

 

7 responses to “A Double Standard

  1. I sort of agree and sort of disagree. How much people get upset over something depends on how much they might be affected by it. Go back a few years and look how quite a few people in the U.S. spoke out against the Moral Majority. And nowadays, quite a few more secularist folks distrust the religious right and speak out against it and its control in the Republican Party. These groups have some power. A small group that has no power, Who cares? So naturally, a billion Muslims is a power to be reckoned with and will grab people’s attention.

    Along these lines, people in the US can differentiate between different groups of Christians because they’re somewhat familiar with them. They aren’t familiar with Islam, and so do not differentiate very well between different groups but lump them all together. It may not be right, but that’s the way everyone works, regardless of religion. And so, anyone who is in an unfamiliar group (with respect to others) and apparently has power, then they need to be more careful about what they say.

  2. Voice of Reason

    Was this pastor’s name Fred Phelps by any chance? Anyway, yes there are religious nuts in Christianity. Though some may still want to burn heretics at the stake, they have realized doing that will only hurt their message rather help it. Have some go over the edge and used violence? Yes. But those incidents are few and far between.
    The reason people freak out when a Muslim cleric says something like this is because Radical Muslims actually ATTACK people. When was the last time you heard a Christian minister calling for the head of the artist who put a Crucifix in urine? (And as far as religious icons being disrespected, Jesus gets it a lot worse then Mohammed) I haven’t. I’ve heard leaders speak out against it, condemn it, or say the artist will burn in Hell, but I’ve never heard them issue fahtwah on the artists head. On the other hand when a Danish newspaper publishes a derogatory image of Mohammed, we hear about Muslim clerics calling for the cartoonists head and see embassies being burned.
    And to clarify things, I am not saying that Radical Muslims represent all Muslims because they don’t. However, they have proven time and time again to be a threat and that needs to be recognized.

  3. I am surprised this person compares America to Sodom and Gomorrah. Unlike these lawless and incredibly immoral cities, which were destroyed once they no longer had one good person left as per God’s promise, America is full of amazing, selfless, and honorable individuals. I am saddened that there has not been an extensive search to highlight the overwhelming amount of goodness in this nation and its people- including the Muslims who did in fact enlist to serve their nation in the aftermath of 9/11- some of whom I served with in Iraq.
    I do agree that we are all citizens of a higher power, eternally married to a more divine purpose. God, Family, Country, should be the order of importance and priority. Sadly, I believe many Americans insert “self” before all three, mainly because many have not learned the value of selfless service and sacrifice as previous generations.
    We do not have a perfect system and never will. Only God’s system is perfect. So, while here on this earth God has granted us free will and we must remember WHY he has given us free will. You will find the most pious individuals in the midst of an environment ripe with immoral activity- and that is where the power of faith shines as an immovable pillar. The strength of God is strong in weakness.
    I believe with the man’s views up until he mentions plurality and interfaith dialogue as satanic. To the contrary, I believe killing someone not because their core values are drastically different, but because they do not follow the same religion as another is barbaric and not how God wants us to live our lives. I am blessed by our pluralist system that allows Muslim Americans to bring their views to the United States. Just imagine what the world would look like if America adopted a view that other religions-and whole peoples- needed to be destroyed. With almost the press of a button, America actually has the power to do this. Thank God it will not, and thank God this is a free, just, and tolerant- not perfect- nation. I am grateful this power is in the hands of a free nation and not with those-here in America and overseas- who would use it for ill.
    As for the last segment of the story, one must understand the basic need for security. Since before the Romans people have been willing to give up their freedom for security. I venture to say those reading this piece is intelligent enough to understand WHY Muslims have been targeted. The evidence and facts speak for themselves, as those who have posted before me demonstrate. In accordance, we must be careful of this tactic as Al-Qaida has been actively recruiting those who do not match certain profiles. We face the same trade off today as our ancestors did thousands of years ago. However, this time we live in a democratic republic which allows for checks and balances. I was sickened by the story of the man in New Orleans. George Washington surely would not have approved.

    I would like to see a project that highlights the goodness in America. Most of what is reported on this site and in the media is disappointing. These stories need to be reported. But so do the good stories. We need models of what to do and how to act, to inspire the people. They are out there. Their stories are amazing. Let’s find more of them.

  4. Comedian Jim Norton gives a humorous yet accurate explanation for such a double standard. WARNING: A couple of expletives are ahead.

  5. Pingback: Brad’s Reader » Blog Archive » Friday Link Love 3/27

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