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An open letter to moderate, peace-loving Muslims

By Michael Frost

Dear moderate, peace-loving Muslims,

I know every time there is a major Islamic-inspired terrorist incident you’re called on by angry radio hosts and newscasters to renounce all violence and condemn the perpetrators. And every time this happens your imams and muftis release such statements and appear before the cameras reading them to us.

But I’m not writing to demand a similar condemnation from you.

I already know you want to practice your religion in peace and leave me to practice mine as well.

I know you are as horrified by the recent acts of slaughter in England, Egypt and Indonesia as I am.

I know you want extremists to stop bringing dishonour upon Islam and attracting global revulsion toward your religion.

I know you wish it would all end.

But in case you think the whole world sees Islam as nothing but a hotbed of religious fanaticism and violence, I want you to know, that even though many of us won’t admit it, Christians have a very unhealthy relationship with violence too.

We have tried to rule the world with a Bible in one hand and a sword in the other. We’ve fallen to the seductive temptations of violence, authority and control many times. We are addicted to the myth of redemptive violence.

And I don’t have to go all the way back to the Crusades or the Inquisition to find examples. Just the last century alone is full of tragic illustrations of how we’ve tried to further our faith by violence and oppression, whether it be in Ireland, Bosnia, Waco, Oklahoma City, Manilla, or Johannesburg. And that doesn’t even include the hundreds of Christian priests and clergy around the world who have been found guilty of sexually and physically assaulting thousands of young people in their care.

Then, of course, there was our illegal invasion of Afghanistan and the war in Iraq (under false pretences about WMDs) resulting in the death of over one million people.

Dear moderate, peace-loving Muslims, there are Christians who know that violence achieves nothing. We speak from experience here. Although for a while it feels like strength. It feels good to lash out, to exact revenge, to think we’re defending the honour of our God. And it’s disturbingly tempting to believe that much can be achieved by marshalling military might to champion the cause of Christ. But in the long run all it did was compromise the vision of our faith and undermine our preaching about Jesus, the man of peace. In the end, our standing in the world and the integrity of our faith has been weakened, not enhanced, by our use of violence.

Believe me, even though your stance against Islamic violence often feels as hopeless as my stance against Christian violence, we can’t give up.

So the next time your leaders make public statements condemning these atrocities committed in the name of Islam, please know that some of us stand with you. Some of us share your revulsion and are ashamed of our fellow believers who have trampled on our God’s reputation by inciting or using violence to further our cause.

We know how hypocritical it must sound for those of us whose governments bombed and invaded your countries to insist that you condemn the violence of your extremists, men and women who don’t act in your name at all.

But condemn them we must. Together. As Christians and Muslims who have both renounced the way of violence and who want these evil acts of terror to stop. Now! And we know the best chance of that happening is for a movement of ordinary moderate, peace-loving people from your faith and mine to emerge to stand together and say to the extremists in each of our religions, NOT IN MY NAME.

Ramadan mubarak.

This article was originally published on Mike Frost and has been republished with permission.

Michael Frost: I am is a 20-year veteran of the academy, but I still don’t call myself an academic. On my immigration forms I write “teacher” in the occupation box. I’ve taught at Morling College in Sydney that whole time and am currently the head of the missiology department there. My doctorate examined a mission-shaped approach to being and doing church, and I’ve written a bunch of books in that field. Some of them have even been popular. Thank you if you bought one. I helped launch the Small Boat Big Sea community in Manly. I enjoy music by guys who can’t sing that great (Dylan, Cohen, Cave), hiking the national parks of North America (15, so far). I co-founded the Forge mission training network. I have won camel races in Kazakhstan, cliff-diving competitions in Thailand, and chess tournaments at the Kremlin. And I have spoken with Elvis (not all this might be true).


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  1. diannaart

    Yeah, like one day the progressive side of politics will collaborate and work together.

    Humans are sooooo tribal.

    Not meaning to sound cynical – I really don’t know how we can all get along when we’re all too busy knifing our friends in the back.

    Having people here at AIMN and elsewhere, who were ostensibly simpatico with my political understandings accuse me of being a troll – well, at least that hasn’t happened for a while. Anyway, religions which hark back to the same god of Abraham have yet to prove their religions are about love, its been well over 2000 years; Jews, Muslims and Christians not so much doing a good job of representing their god of love.

    Of course, I am just an atheist, watching from the margins and freely acknowledge that atheists do not get along all that well either.

    We need a paradigm shift of epic proportions before we stop the power game.

  2. Glenn Barry

    Dear havanaliedown,

    I nominate that you explain why the Westbro baptist church should be chosen as representative of Christian religions and explain their actions to us, more to that end the KKK are good god fearing bible adherents, can you explain the validity of their actions to us?

  3. paul walter

    Well, hurrah!

    Others “get it” also.

  4. tanginitoo

    Michael Frost: And please don’t forget all the ‘missionaries’ who invaded so many third world countries and ‘forced’ Christianity on the people who had their own beliefs and ways. These ‘missionaries’ caused just as many problems as invading armed forces. Just look at the small island Countries of the Pacific if you want further proof!

  5. darrel nay

    Christian Bashing is so trendy – not bigoted though, right? Hey, since we’re all being so self-righteous why don’t we lay into Mother Theresa, Santa and the Easter Bunny too – ooh that feels so good doesn,t it? Virtue signalling is such a buzz if you,ve got nothing better to offer.

    Atheist Mao killed more people than any Christian ever did. The leftists will start foaming at the mouth if people try to pidgeon-hole Muslims but somehow the same leftists will paint with the broadest of brushes when it comes to bad-mouthing Christians.


  6. havanaliedown

    Glenn, they’re idiots – and I’m not Christian so why should I explain the Westboro Church and the KKK? All I can observe is they are not very “Christ-like” in their behaviour (meek, turn-the-other-cheek, practice forgiveness, love-the-sinner-but-hate-the-sin, love thine enemy etc which is my understanding of modern Christianity).

  7. burniebobthe_b_

    you seem to forget they were moderate muslims before they weren’t. I saw a comment that their holy book which “moderates” abide by has some pretty terrible instructions for followers KORAN 48:29 Be merciful to believers, not unbelievers! KORAN 47:4 Behead and slaughter the unbelievers; take others captive! KORAN 9:123 Fight the unbelievers, be harsh with them! KORAN 9:111 Paradise guaranteed to those who kill and are killed for Allah! KORAN 9:29 Fight and subjugate the Jews! KORAN 9:28 Idolaters unclean! KORAN 9:5 Slay the idolaters! KORAN 8:60 Make war against enemies of Allah! KORAN 8:39 Fight unbelievers until Islam reigns supreme! KORAN 8:12 Allah will terrorize unbelievers; Muslims should behead them! KORAN 7:166 Jews are apes! KORAN 5:64 Jews accursed! KORAN 5:59-60 Jews cursed, made into apes and swine! KORAN 5:51 Don’t take Jews and Christians as friends and allies! KORAN 5:33 Crucify or amputate the hands and feet of those who make war against Allah and Muhammad! KORAN 4:34 Beat disobedient women! KORAN 3:181 Jews are bound for hell! KORAN 3:110-112 Muslims are the better than everyone else! KORAN 3:28 Don’t take unbelievers as friends and allies, unless it is for “fear of them,” i.e. deceptively for protection of oneself or of Islam! KORAN 2:191-193 Fight and kill unbelievers until “religion is Allah’s,” i.e. Islamic law rules all societies! KORAN 2:89 Unbelievers, particularly Jews, are accursed! KORAN 2:89 Unbelievers, particularly Jews, are accursed! KORAN 2:65 Allah transforms disobedient Jews into apes!?

  8. Audioio

    diannaart wrote: “Anyway, religions which hark back to the same god of Abraham have yet to prove their religions are about love”.

    Yeah, well, those same religions (and all the others) have yet to prove they are about anything. Regardless of the allegedly moral precepts presented in holy books, if you base your entire life around a mythical sky fairy whose existence you cannot prove, you’re not in my opinion entitled to enjoy the benefits of a modern society. (And don’t give me that crap about “God will not be tempted”. That’s a cop out, and you know it.)

    By continuing to believe in God, you’re saying science–established through evidence and reasoning–is a crock. Therefore, if you don’t want to be a hypocrite, stop using anything that has come about as a result of science, or been improved by it. You’ll survive a long time without God, but you’ll die sooner without electricity, reticulated gas and water, and modern medicine.

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