The arrest of six American citizens earlier this week on charges of conspiring to commit terrorism abroad revived chatter about a worldwide Islamic conspiracy to wage war and destroy civilization as we know it.
Several of the men arrested were converts to Islam, and there is an apparent history of involvement with Islamist causes in Afghanistan.
Leaping to assumptions ignores the fact that many other people also have converted to Islam and a billion or more people follow Islam’s core beliefs, most living peaceful, productive lives, interacting and melding into pluralistic cultures worldwide, as well as in mostly Islamic nations.
Terrorism, although committed often in the name of various religions, is the goal a sliver of particular religious movements or faith streams.
Almost every religion can be hastily and mistakenly tarred with the outrageous and perverse acts of a relative few claming adherence or belief, entirely missing the main point.
Southerners, especially, before condemning Muslims wholesale, need to reflect on the so-called Christians who once routinely terrorized African-Americans in the South and other people elsewhere with ethnic identities different from white Protestantism.
The Ku Klux Klan for decades routinely used violence to achieve its ends in the name of Christ, racial purity and in defense of segregation.
The Klan in various emanations mocks the Christian religion its members claim. Some of the fiercest Klansmen historically have been clergy and laymen in Southern churches, but their nightrider identity contradicts everything about the Gospel they claim.
People who seize the good name of a religion and ignore its essential tenets – peace, love, justice and good will, practiced by all the major faiths – are driven by their own hatred and stupidity, not by the true teachings of faith.
Some so-called Christians, it should be remembered, have a broad and historically deep record of deadly violence used against those with whom they differ – people inside the faith with whom they disagree and those outside who are considered unworthy, even less than human.
Jesus Christ put an end to this, destroying the dividing wall of hostility. All forms of racism, prejudice, and discrimination are affronts to the work of Christ.
Jesus commands us to love one another as he loves us (John 13:34).
Paul the Apostle, who was the chief “racial profiler” before his conversion to Christianity, saw with a different light afterward.
Paul wrote, in Ephesians 2:
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.”
Racism and terrorism by virtue of belief or ethnicity, in varying forms and to various degrees, remain a plague on humanity after thousands of years.
Spiritual healing is the antidote, and reconciliation is the outcome.