Late Friday night (or was it early Saturday morning?) I posted a facebook status and twitter post in response to some things I had been seeing on social media pertaining to the horrible attack and manhunt in Boston
My fellow Christians: show compassion and love to your Muslim neighbors. They don’t condone the activities of this week any more than you condone Westboro Baptist ‘church’ protesting soldiers’ funerals. Let’s not label, let’s love each other.
It was a response from my heart, from my personal experiences and from my belief as a follower of Jesus that all people have value. I was beginning to see a variety of posts and articles of people using this tragedy for their own political soapbox. People were broadcasting their anti-immigration sentiments, their anti or pro gun control opinions, their disdain for the media, and their opinion on taxes. But what stood out to me more than anything else were the few posts I saw expressing disdain towards Muslims.
For most of us who do not adhere to the Islamic faith, our only exposure to the tenets of the religion come from Fox News, CNN, or other biased sources. Most of the Christians I know do not have friends who are Muslim. Many do not know how to engage in respectful dialogue with people of a different faith. It is human nature to spend time with people who are just like us, and to keep a ‘safe distance’ from people we don’t understand. Instead of listening, learning from each other, and treating each other with respect, we avoid interaction and stay in our safe zone.
It is easy in the face of a tragedy to look at the perpetrators and make generalizations. It is easy to then look at others that share the same nationality, citizenship status, or religion as the suspects with suspicion or judgement. My heart breaks when I see this expressed online, on TV, or in person. I’ve been watching the news coverage all week. My heart has been so sad for the victims’ families, the injured spectators who will never be the same, and everyone in Boston who feels angry or afraid. We have the right to be angry at what happened in Boston. We have a right to demand justice for the crimes committed. But we don’t have a right to look at other Muslims or refugees in our country and generalize them with the men who committed the terrorist act this past week.
I know many asylees and many Muslims who live in the United States. I consider them friends. Most are here because they escaped persecution or tragedy. Some came for an education. Others came for a new job opportunity. It is not fair to assume that my friends sympathize with acts of terrorism. It is not fair to persecute them or judge them without knowing them. Muslims should not have to be afraid to walk down the streets in our country now. Islamic extremism is a horrible sect of a religion in which most of it’s followers are peace loving people. They love their families and their country. They work hard to provide for their children. If you don’t believe that, please step back and assess if you have ever had a conversation with an immigrant in our country. If you haven’t and would like to, please let me know. I can introduce you to some amazing people in Atlanta who would love to meet you.
I am a Christian and I deeply love Jesus. But if I claim to love Jesus, I need to act how He acted. Jesus spent time with everyone. He spent time with social outcasts and people who were different from him. He shared His love with all people. I am trying to do the same.
Feel free to leave comments but anything deemed as hateful dialogue will be promptly deleted.