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Countering Islamophobia

 

Recent events in the US have sparked a renewed interest—and debate—about Islam and Muslims.  The commercial media has put two efforts aimed at limiting Muslim presence and striking at core beliefs at the center of the national (and international) attention.  What has been described as “Islamophobia”—a fear of Islam and Muslims—marks a certain segment of the climate and discourse in the United States today.  This approach is hurtful because it reduces an entire people of faith to stereotypes and images.  In response to that, the UCC Synod and Disciples Assembly spoke out unequivocally.

In addition, a major interfaith summit to denounce anti-Muslim bigotry took place on Sept. 7, 2010 in Washington, DC.

Statement: Religious Leaders Denounce Anti-Muslim Bigotry and Call for Respect for America’s Tradition of Religious Liberty 
Interfaith Press Conference Against Anti-Muslim Bigotry

The United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) engage in dialogue and action with people of other faiths, both in the United States and globally.  Cooperation to reduce the effects of poverty, to oppose torture, to support Middle East peace, and simply to get to know one another are some of the ways that we interact with Muslims and Jews, among others.  Locally, nationally, and internationally, many good efforts are taking place to break down barriers of the mind.

In 1989, the UCC adopted a resolution at General Synod entitled, The Relationship Between the United Church of Christ and the Muslim Community.

A major international initiative by Muslims, inviting Christians into dialogue, focuses on the two common principles of Christianity and Islam—to love God and to love your neighbor.  The invitation is called, A Common Word Between Us and You 

Two of the UCC and Disciples’ national dialogue partners are the

Islamic Society of North America
Islamic Circle of North America
     Defending Religious Freedom, Understanding Shariah

In today’s context, there is much that Disciples and UCC members can do to learn more about, and to get to know, our Muslim neighbors to contribute to a toned-down discourse, one that promotes tolerance and acceptance, and one gets beyond oversimplications.

An excellent multi-media resource, entitled Change the Story, features tools for educators, religious leaders and concerned individuals, including videos, educational resources, and advocacy tools. 

In Islam, the Qur’an is the revealed word of God to the community, through the prophet Muhammad.  You can read the Qur’an online or simply find a copy at your local bookstore or library.  You will recognize many of the people in it!

Finally, a short primer, What is Islam? was developed by Global Ministries.  The website Islam and Islamic Studies Resources is also a useful reference.

Some recommended reading on interfaith relations and Islam is available as well.  

We hope this resource will provide you with some helpful tools to learn more about Islam and Muslims, a faith community of almost 1.5 billion.  Even so, there is no substitute for direct personal encounter.

Shoulder-to-Shoulder website - Standing with American Muslims; Upholding American Values
We call upon our fellow citizens to treat each other with compassion and honesty, and to foster an ethical commitment to bedrock American values such as pluralism and religious freedom, mutuality and respect—values also at the core of our religious traditions.

Center for American Progress report: Fear, Inc.
An in-depth investigation conducted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund reveals not a vast right-wing conspiracy behind the rise of Islamophobia in our nation but rather a small, tightly networked group of misinformation experts guiding an effort that reaches millions of Americans through effective advocates, media partners, and grassroots organizing. This spreading of hate and misinformation primarily starts with five key people and their organizations, which are sustained by funding from a clutch of key foundations.

“Discover Islam” DVDs and Study Guide
Discover Islam has offered to provide, free of charge, a new DVD set called “Discover Islam: Documentary Films” to various settings of the UCC and Disciples.  The DVD set includes six half-hour programs, as follows:

  • Islam: An American Faith
  • Christians & Islam
  • Islam: Faith & History
  • Women in Islam
  • Islam: A Faith Hijacked
  • African Americans & Islam


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