Islamophobia appears to be on the upswing among some American Christians, and that’s a poor commentary on the state of the faith in those quarters.
In New York City, a televangelist named Bill Keller has opened a “9/11 Christian Center” in a rented hotel meeting room across from Ground Zero. I’d never heard of Keller previously, but apparently he’s made quite a name for himself with his heated anti-Islamic rhetoric — enough to get him thrown off at least one TV station for being so offensive. In a hate-filled diatribe, Keller described Islam as a religion of “violence and hatred” and “a 1400-year-old lie from hell.” He claims that his purpose is to “open a place where people can come to hear the truth of the Bible and learn about the peace, love, and saving grace of Jesus Christ.”
Do you hear any peace, love, and grace in Keller’s comments?
Meanwhile, independent preacher Terry Jones, from Gainesville, Fla., still plans to host an “International Burn a Quran Day” on Sept. 11. Jones, leader of the inaptly named “Dove World Outreach Center,” has written a book called Islam Is of the Devil, and his church reportedly sells T-shirts and coffee mugs bearing the same phrase. The National Association of Evangelicals has urged the church to cancel the event, but the anti-Islamist congregation remains undeterred. The same church has promoted slur-filled protests against the mayor of Gainesville, who is gay.
Does this sound like the love of Christ in action? Jesus called his followers to spread a gospel of love and peace, even for one’s perceived enemies — a far cry from the hateful rhetoric being disseminated in his name.
There may be no tears in heaven, but the Spirit of God on earth, I’m convinced, must be weeping.
Professor of Old Testament at Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, North Carolina, and the Contributing Editor and Curriculum Writer at Good Faith Media.