A friend posted an old video from England featuring hard-line Muslims who want to impose Sharia law in their area of England and everywhere else if they have their way. I watched the video a few years back (or maybe just last year) and although the things they are saying are shocking, they should in no way be taken as how all Muslims are or how they all believe. Which, knowing my friend, if definitely what she is implying. See, in Christian circles the whole Muslim Islamaphobia goes far beyond just the terrorism thing. I mean, that is enough to upset any sane person because it is real and it is scary, but the real issue is that the number of Muslims in the world is growing and they are in almost every country in the world, which American Christians see as an invasion of territory and their own religion. How dare those Muslims come to America and wear their headscarves? Don't they know they live in a Christian country now? Don't they know it is the Christian laws that should rule the land?
Now, just like Christianity, there are Muslims who were simply born into the faith and don't actually attend prayers or follow any of the Muslim laws. Some, simply choose to follow their religion differently. Perhaps they believe certain tenants of the faith, but can't stand by other areas, particularly the stuff that encourages violence. You know, like how Christians do when they tout the message of Jesus but conveniently ignore all those parts of the Old Testament where the Israelites murdered men, women, and children in the name of God. American Christians are adept at seeing Muslims as OTHER. They are so other that even when we watch them climbing under border fences with a newborn in their arms, carrying a small pack on their back that contains all their worldly possessions, all we see is the label "Muslim Terrorist" as if it is branded on their forehead. They don't see the child or the desperation. Don't agree with me? Go read the comments section of any news article on the refugee crisis in Europe. The comments are full of hateful vitrol, going as far as to accuse these mothers and fathers of small children of purposefully putting their children in harm's way in order to get free money off the backs of Europeans and then...when no one is watching anymore...they will kill you. Or convert you.
Here's my real issue though. For some hard-line Christians their faith looks almost exactly like the hard-line Muslims. The woman in Kentucky who is refusing to issue marriage licenses stating that she is under God's law and not the United States' laws is a prime example. She is doing the EXACT same thing. She not only is refusing to obey the law (the reason she was jailed), but is blatantly claiming that God's Law (Christian Sharia Law) is more important than the laws of our land. We balk when a woman in a burka says it, but a white woman with long hair and a skirt? Well, she's a martyr for the cause, right?
Want to know what I see when I see a Muslim? It is a mixture of Stereotyping and pity. Unlike Christianity, if you leave the faith, other than some judgmentalism and broken relationships, nothing will happen to you. Muslims don't have that choice. Not only is deconverting not even considered a thing (if you are born Muslim, you are always Muslim, especially if you are a woman), but to be apostate could mean death. I see homosexuals and agnostics and atheists who have to live in the shadows for the fear of death. I see people who probably don't believe in the religion any more than they believe in Santa Claus, but questioning such things could have dire circumstances. I see women who believe that wearing a headscarf (or more) brings them closer to God. And I see others who have no choice. (there is a difference) I also see that it is a religion that, despite moving into the 21st century, upholds laws that are congruent with the 4th century. It is also a religion that can be easily intrepreted into a world of violence and hate. Just as it is impossible for Christians to explain away genocide in the Bible, the Muslims can't ignore their own Holy Scriptures either. And so I am also cautious.
Here is a scenario that my writer self came up with in order to put myself in the shoes of these refugees:
I imagine living in an America where hard-line right wing Christians now control the land. I am forced to wear a dress, can't cut my hair, have no access to birth control, if I am caught with birth control I would be thrown in jail or stoned to death. Women are checked to be sure they are virgins before they are married. Levitcal law is loosely followed. I am charged a tax for not being Christian. Then some really radical group claims that God has given them control of this land, this Christian nation, and they will wipe the servants of Baal from the face of it. All non-Christians, this would of course include Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Catholics, will be killed. Of course, Christians themselves are also collateral damage, but that is okay because they were Christian and are in heaven now and so they were martyrs for the cause. Whole cities are bombed and wiped off the face of the earth. Suburban homes are just rubble, the families living in the ruins with no running water or electricity. I am living in my parents living room because they have a fireplace to cook with. The government, what remains of it, has holed up in the North and only protects the people that live there. Those who are outside their bubble are accused of being with the extremists. And so those people pack of their families and head south. Some go to Florida and pay a smuggler to get them to Cuba or Dominican Republic or even to South America. Others walk thousands of miles to Mexico. Of course, we don't want to be in Mexico. We really want to get to South America because Brazil and some other countries have promised us safe refuge if we can just get there. Those who had some savings may be able to pay a smuggler or perhaps get airplane tickets out, but for the average middle and lower class American, they are forced to walk. And then Guatamala, who is poor and doesn't like the hundreds of thousands of Americans coming across their land, puts up a barbed wire fence. At the same time, these countries that are mostly Catholic are holding rallies demanding that we should send all those Americans back to their war torn country because they are just going to bring more of that extreme Christian views with them. I mean, an extremist could be hiding among them, sneaking across the border with all the other refugees. That's true, it could be happening, but do you deny the families and the children access based on this unknowable? Europe offers to take some people, which sounds awesome for some people, but for the most part, most of us refugees just want to go home. We want to return to South Carolina and Missouri and Texas. We want to go back to our homes, where our families are buried, where we want to be buried, hopefully when we are old. Will there be jobs for us in Brazil or Uruguay? What about the language barrier? Will our children be safe there? Will people hate us? Will they think that because I am an American, I am a murderer too? The only thing keeping me from giving up are my nieces and nephews, because they deserve peace and love and security. They deserve a chance to become wonderful people, people who would not grow up surrounded by extreme Christians who are killing people. And when I think about this, it is easily to see Muslim refugees as someone like me. Even though we don't have the same skin color, language, beliefs, or lives.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.