|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
Since 9/11 many American Christians have been asking why Muslims who oppose Islamist radicalism don't do more to counter it. Today I suspect more than a few Muslims are looking at Christians in America wondering why Christians don't try to dissuade the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida, led by Pastor Terry Jones, from hosting Burn a Quran Day.
What is the responsibility of religious believers in a given faith to engage fanatics advocating ideologies of hate while claiming to act in the name of this faith?
Quran burning does not equate with murdering thousands in terrorism. However, these are similar in being ideological expressions of hatred which identify themselves with Abrahamic faiths better known for their emphasis on God's mercy toward all humans.
Both are independent movements evoking the name of far larger, broader religions. The Dove World Outreach Center is an independent church. Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda is an independent movement. Just as millions of Christians peacefully attend churches with no affiliation with the Dove World Outreach Center, millions of peaceful Muslims have no affiliation with al-Qaeda and associated movements.
Among Muslims there are emerging efforts beyond press releases to engage Islamist fanatics and Muslims, especially young Muslims, at risk of radicalization. Examples include the Quilliam Foundation, a Muslim counter-radicalization think-tank in the U.K., and the video Believers Beware: Injustice Cannot Defeat Injustice, released this summer by the Muslim Public Affairs Council based in Washington, DC, featuring Muslim leaders speaking Muslim-to-Muslim against religious fanaticism.
There is a mess brewing inside Christendom. Some American Christians might be thinking, "Terry Jones and his church - ahem, his "church" - have nothing to do with me because I am Catholic/Methodist/fill-in-the-blank." And yet the only thing a flood victim in Pakistan, likely Muslim, is probably going to hear about this story is, 'American Christians put their energy and resources into Quran burning, not into helping us in our hour of dire need.'
Moreover, if American Christians don't try to reach out to Terry Jones, then who will? Press releases will not be enough.