How should Christians respond to the mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand that took 50 lives? Compassionately. Humbly. Respectfully. There are any number of sensible answers.
But in an article for Christianity Today, compiling a variety of responses, one in particular stood out because it called out Christians for what they may have done to demonize Muslims.
Here’s Martin Accad, an associate professor of Islamic Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary in California.
Admittedly, the shooters did not claim a Christian worldview or motivation, but rather seem to have been motivated by racism, white supremacy, and xenophobia. However, Christians must search their souls for any contribution they might have made to the current shape of our societies’ attitude towards Islam and Muslims.
Our churches are feeding on too many aggressive, polemical, and fearful writings about Islam and Muslims. Many books written by evangelicals in recent years contribute to fear and xenophobia instead of fighting these feelings and reactions with the loving and peaceful attitude that our Lord Jesus taught us and modeled for us.
You never know what you’re going to read in Christianity Today, a publication that believes committed gay and lesbian couples are “destructive to society.” They routinely publish harmful, fundamentalist viewpoints that reinforce the idea that Christians are socially regressive.
Yet responses like these surprise me in a good way. It’s about time that evangelical Christians take a hard look at themselves, and at the teachings in their churches, and see how they might enable people like the shooter. This isn’t to say that Christians are at fault, just as YouTube personalities sympathetic to alt-right views didn’t call for violence, but rhetoric can be powerful and the mentality these people instill in others can have serious ramifications.
The more that conservative Christians insist Muslims are dangerous and to be feared, the more they empower people to act on those beliefs.
I’m hoping every pastor who reads this piece takes note.
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