If Islam is “Un-American,” then the logical next step is Christianity and Judaism becoming “Un-American.”
“[I am] calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our representatives can figure out what’s going on.” — Donald J. Trump
Though controversial and clearly unconstitutional, Trump has tapped into a sentiment held by 76% of the Republican electorate (56% overall by the “general public” regardless of party affiliation) that the religion of Islam, and by association Muslims who adhere to its tenets, is “incompatible with American values and way of life.” In other words, Islam is un-American. The same November 2015 poll by the Public Religion Research Institute showed that 43% of registered Democrats believe this as well.
Although I am certain that most respondents to the research poll have never actually read the holy book of Islam, the Quran, or understand the intimate details and cultural traditions of the religion, they nonetheless feel qualified to make such far-reaching conclusions.
While the First Amendment of our Constitution grants the important freedoms of speech and religion (as well as the freedoms of the press, to assemble, and to petition of the government for redress of grievances), therefore granting religious denominations the rights to establish and preach doctrine no matter how reasonable or deplorable, what does it take for us to declare some doctrine or entire denominations as “un-American”?
Islam stands as one of three major “Abrahamic” monotheistic religions along with Judaism and Christianity, which emphasize and locate their origins to Abraham. I wonder, though, if we understood the holy texts of these religions in their original or even translated versions, would a significant percentage of research poll participants and the larger “general public” in the United States find Judaism and Christianity also “incompatible with American values and way of life” in reference of our founding documents, such as the Constitution with its growing accumulation of amendments?
On Justified Murder:
Though our Executive, Legislative, and Judicial systems supposedly ban and punish unjustifiable homicide, a number of holy religious texts discount this. Within Judaism and Christianity, for example:
Jewish Bible (“Old Testament”) Exodus 21: 15 & 17: And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death. And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.
(JB) Exodus 31: 15: For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death.
(JB) 1 Samuel 3: Now go and smite Am’alek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
(JB) 1 Samuel 6: 19-20: And he smote of the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of Jehovah, he smote of the people seventy men, and fifty thousand men; and the people mourned, because Jehovah had smitten the people with a great slaughter. And the men of Beth-shemesh said, Who is able to stand before Jehovah, this holy God? and to whom shall he go up from us?
United States recently celebrated the 150th anniversary of the passage of its monumental Thirteenth Amendment ratified by the states on December 6, 1865, which reads:
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
In addition, ratified on July 9, 1868, Section I of Fourteenth Amendment states:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
However, both the Jewish Bible and the Christian Testaments clearly condone the practice of slavery in numerous passages, for example:
(JB) Genesis 9: 25-26: And he said, Cursed be Canaan [descendant of Ham]; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers. He also said, Blessed be the Lord, the G*d of Shem [& the Israelites]! May Canaan [descendants of Ham] be the slave of Shem [& the Israelites].
(JB): Exodus 20: 20-21: When a slave owner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property.
(CT) Ephesians 6:5-6: Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.
(CT) 1 Timothy 6:1-2: Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be blasphemed. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful to them on the ground that they are members of the church; rather they must serve them all the more, since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved.
Though women have been and continue in many instances to be treated as second- and even third-class citizens in the United States, legislators have passed laws and other mandates to ensure greater equality between the sexes. For example, the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, passed in 1920, granted women the legal right of voting:
“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars employment discrimination by private employers, employment agencies, and unions based on race, sex, and other grounds. And Title IX of this Act states that:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
In 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued Executive Order 11375 expanding affirmative action policies of 1965 to cover discrimination based on sex. And in 2009, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of the federal government expanded workers’ right to sue for pay discrimination and relaxed the statute of limitations on these suits for women and men.
Within our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, released July 4, 1776, Thomas Jefferson declared that “all men [meaning people] are created equal.”
So, with these noble sentiments and non-discrimination legislation protecting the rights of and equality between the sexes, why would Judaism and Christianity not be declared “un-American”?:
(JB) Genesis 3: 16: To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
(JB) Numbers 5: 12- : Speak to the Israelites and say to them: If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him by sleeping with another man, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected …or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure—then he is to take his wife to the priest.
(CT) 1 Timothy 2:9: “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes.”
(CT) 1 Corinthians 14:33-35, 37: “As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church…what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord.”
On LGBTQ People:
In the 1996 ruling in Romer v. Evans, the U.S. Supreme Court declaredunconstitutional Ballot Amendment 2 of the Colorado state Constitution, which prevented recognizing homosexuals as a protected class in non-discrimination statutes. In addition, the 2003 Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas, legalized same-sex sexuality in every state in the union.
The 2013 United States v. Windsor decision found the 1996 so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” unconstitutional. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy stated:
“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”
Soon thereafter, in Obergefell, et al v. Hodges, Director, Ohio Department of Health, et al, the Supreme Court, on June 26, 2015, in 5-4 decision, legalized marriage for same-sex couples nationwide.
But Jewish and Christian religious texts state, in part:
(JB) In Genesis 19: 1-25, the story of the destruction of Sodom is frequently cited to justify condemnations of homosexuality.
(JB) Leviticus 18: 22: Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.
(CT) Romans 1: 26-27: In consequence, God has given them up to shameful passions. Their women have exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural. And likewise also the men, giving up natural relations with women, burn with lust for one another; males behave indecently with males, and are paid in their own persons the fitting wage [death] of such perversion.
(CT) 1 Corinthians 6-9: Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind.
The Roman Catholic Church Catechism 2357 related to same-sex sexuality states:
“Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are gravely disordered. They are contrary to natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of love [i.e., children]. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”
Vatican hierarchy recently informed Alex Salinas, a 21-year-old transman from Cadiz, Spain, that it had denied his request to become the godparent of his nephew because being transgender is incongruent with Catholic teaching. According to the Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, its doctrine-enforcing agency:
Transgender status “reveals in a public way an attitude opposite to the moral imperative of solving the problem of sexual identity according to the truth of one’s own sexuality. Therefore it is evident that this person does not possess the requirement of leading a life according to the faith and in the position of godfather and is therefore unable to be admitted to the position of godfather or godmother.”
On the Jews in the Christian Testaments:
1 Thessalonians 2:15-16: “[T]he Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and drove us out, the Jews who are heedless of God’s will and enemies of their fellow man….All this time they have been making up the full measure of their guilt, and now retribution has overtaken the good of all.”
Matthew 27:24-25: “Pilate could see that nothing was being gained, and a riot was starting [among the Jews]; so he took water and washed his hands in full view of the people saying, “My hands are clean of this man’s blood; see to that yourselves,” and with one voice the people cried, ‘His blood be on us, and on our children’.”
John 8: 44: And Jesus said: “If God were your father, you would love me…[but] your [the Jews] father is the devil and you choose to carry out your father’s desires.”
Revelation 2:9: “The Jews…are Satan’s synagogue.”
Revelation 3:9: “I will make those of Satan’s synagogue, who claim to be Jews but are lying frauds, come and fall down at your feet.”
[Not a] Conclusion:
My discussion highlights the reality that individuals and groups throughout the ages have employed texts, not only of Islam, but also of the other two major Abrahamic monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity) to justify and rationalize the marginalization, harassment, denial of rights, persecution, and oppression of entire groups of people based on their social identities. At various historical periods, people have applied these texts, sometimes taken in tandem, and at other times used selectively, to establish and maintain hierarchical positions of power, domination, and privilege over individuals and groups targeted by these texts.
For Donald Trump or anyone else to single out the negative, destructive, and, yes, evil passages of the Quran (or how some sects or cults within Islam co-opt, distort, and attempt to hijack the overall messages) without doing so as well with the holy books of Judaism and Christianity demonstrates a hierarchical double standard that alienates and separates people from differing religious traditions, and increases the changes not only for misunderstanding, but violence as well.
We must, therefore, reject the stereotyping, scapegoating, and fear-mongering by demagogues for their own benefit and advancement against Islam and against any other religion.
Would you like to help us shatter stereotypes about men?
Receive stories from The Good Men Project, delivered to your inbox daily or weekly.
Photo: Getty Images