There has been some discussion in the media lately about whether President Barack Obama is a Muslim or not. Despite a recent survey that showed that as many as 20% of Americans asked believe this might be the case, it is clear from the evidence that this is not true. Just because a person or a group of people repeat something over and over does not make it true. It appears that the president is a Christian, or at least has leaned that way during his lifetime.

However, if we wanted to ask a question that was more to the point, just exactly why is it so bad to be a Muslim? The evidence is pretty clear that Obama, like a great number of Americans, is a Christian who goes to church on special occasions and when they feel the need. That is the same as a lot of people in this country, and it’s not necessarily bad. Likewise, why is it any better or worse to be a Christian or a Muslim or a follower of some other faith?

My question, one that no one in the media seems to be able to address right now, is just what is so wrong about being a Muslim? Some people are Christians, some are Muslim, some are Buddhists, some are Sikhs or Pagans or Jews or followers of any one of a number of other spiritual systems. The question: Since when did it become an insult to call someone a Muslim? Until we address that, we are just arguing over mindless accusations that detractors of the president seem to want to make to .

Until we can accept one another for who we are, without “hating” someone else merely because of their race or religion, then we are fairly well doomed as a society. And until we can speak of one another (as individuals in a country) without the racial or religious labels, we are truly showing our ignorance. I look at the media reports and see misinformation on both sides of this issue.

Some of these folks are seeing Christians and Muslims as an “either/or” situation. I may offend a few with this description, but not deliberately. Let me explain:

  • Both Christians and Muslims believe that one God/Creator made the Earth.
  • Both believe that one should worship the Creator on a regular basis.
  • Both believe that regular prayer is a benefit to one’s life.
  • Both believe in the words of a holy book, that in each case was written by wise men inspired by God, and at a basic level tell similar stories.
  • Both holy books tell us how the world was created, how to worship and please God, and how to lead good and ethical lives.
  • Both books are full of wisdom to live by.
  • Both books have certain passages that could have very bad meanings, depending upon how they are interpreted.  In other words, if taken strictly and literally, and out of context, they both in places direct us to do things that are inappropriate by today’s standards.
  • Both books, while for the most part directing us to do good and not to hurt others, have sections that say we might need to fight or kill people to preserve ourselves and our respective religions. In both cases, only those who already have a mind toward violence actually interpret those sections as a call to violence.
  • Both religions have regular religious practice, a yearn for peace, a call to be charitable toward others, a call to be charitable toward their church, and a call to take care of ones self and others as their main focus.
  • Both have lists of rules one would follow to lead a good and wholesome life.

There are a number of ways that the religions differ, of course. But if you look at those things, you will find that they are in the realm of “method of practice” than in actual dogma. Christianity is different from Islam, but not much more than the way that different sects of Christianity (Catholics, Mormons, Baptists, Protestants, and so on) are different from one another.

I find that many Christians, despite claiming to love their neighbors and claiming to be tolerant toward others, will badmouth the Muslims as bad people.  On the other hand, I have found that a great many Christians will go out of their way to badmouth the practices of their fellow Christians who happen to practice in a different way in a different church.

Yes, this does oversimplify things somewhat. But in the end, in the things that matter, most of the world’s religions are truly not that different from one another. So, why are we demonizing the other religious people so much?  Aren’t we really only arguing over the method of religious practice and some minor doctrinal details, rather than in some really evil difference in what we believe?

Unless we really believe that anyone who doesn’t sit next to us on Sunday morning is the bad guy.

Anyone want to help me out on this?