Fear-mongering in America

Arabic Muslim female with scarf and veil outdoorI don’t usually write on current events but the latest stir over keeping Muslims out of the U.S. really demonstrates just how much we operate out of fear instead of love. Sadly, this includes Christians. And since I’ve been talking a lot about this fear-love paradigm, I thought it would be appropriate to comment on its latest manifestation here.

Case in point: the recent Paris and San Bernardino attacks have precipitated a sharp uptick in anti-Muslim rhetoric. At the top of the list is the “us against them” fear-mongering exploitation by Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, calling for closing U.S. borders to all Muslims. We also have Wheaton College, a conservative Christian college, recently suspending a hijab-wearing professor for her statement of solidarity with Muslims over the current prejudice and persecution leveled against them.

Before I go on, let me head off any Christian witch hunt in my direction by making it clear that I’m not a proponent of “Chrislam.” I AM a proponent of operating from love and not fear.

I don’t have to agree with people in order to care about them and treat them the way I would want to be treated. I think Jesus said something about that.

I’m also all for national security and stopping actual terrorism, but now we’re condemning a whole religion because of a few militant radicals?

Let’s talk about guilt by association for a minute. If we start banning all Muslims from coming into our country because a small minority have committed terrorist acts, should the government also ban all Christians because of acts of terrorism done by a few Christian militants? (Can we say, Oklahoma City bombing?)

Actually, all forms of terrorism, wars, violence, and man’s inhumanity to man are testaments to the failure to act out of love instead of fear.  But that’s another subject.

What’s really telling, and sad, to me about this fear-based knee-jerk reaction is that Trump’s call to ban all Muslims is actually getting traction with a growing number of Americans, including many Christians.

So what’s next, internment camps? Pogroms? The Inquisition?  Shall we put them all in ghettos? Will we feel safe enough from “them” then? Where is this all leading?

Operating out of fear always leads to suspicion, separation and rejection. It never ever leads to anything good, nor does it ever lead anyone to Christ. Actually, it has quite the opposite effect.

Rather than valuing people as individuals the way Christ values them (by giving His life for them), we wholesale reject and label them with “isms” in order to fence them out. That’s not prejudice, right? Ha!

So, which Bible are we reading anyway? It’s not the same one I read. At least, it doesn’t look like Jesus. Looks more like the Pharisees…or maybe, Barabbas.

On that note, we, as a nation, have not handled our fears very well. Ours is a long trail of tears and blood-soaked history of persecution and prejudice leveled against anyone that believes or looks differently than us—including justifying the evils of slavery and atrocities committed against Native Americans on our own soil…all for “God and country.”

Of course, this isn’t just an “American problem.” Historically, some of the worst atrocities against Jews and Muslims have been perpetrated by people calling themselves Christians.

Then we’ve had the Syrian refugee issue front and center in our minds. You do realize that Jesus and His family were refugees from a despotic dictator who was committing mass infanticide in their home country, don’t you? Thankfully, Egypt didn’t have an anti-immigration policy against refugees when Mary and Joseph were fleeing from Herod (see Matt.2:13-18).

Did we also forget that Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, who wrote about half of the New Testament, was a religious terrorist at one time? He persecuted the church “beyond measure and tried to destroy it.” 

For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. 14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. (Gal.1:13-14)

What changed Paul? Christian retaliation? Internment? Exclusion? No, it was a supernatural encounter with Love! And he was never the same again. That should be instructive to our foreign policy.

We seem to have invented a version of Christianity that is totally foreign to the teachings of Christ or the apostles. When James and John wanted to call fire down on the Samaritans for not following Jesus, notice Jesus’ response (emphasis mine):

But He turned and rebuked them, and said, You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.  (Luke 9:55-56 NKJV)

I’m specifically addressing my Christian brothers and sisters. Do we know “what manner of spirit” we are of when we head down this dark path of fear and persecution against a whole people group? As citizens of Heaven, what should our response be? It’s bad enough that we’ve lost our way as Americans, forgetting Liberty’s invitation of hope to the hopeless,“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…,” have we also forgotten who we are in Christ, and what a Christ-like response would actually look like in these troubled times in which we find ourselves? Let’s not sink into fear but let Christ’s perfect love cast it out.

As I said in my last post, “A Savior was born to us, and lived with us, but He also lived for us. So when He died, He died as us. Now, He lives in us….For Peace has come, and is now living on the earth in men and women of good will.” May this be said of us. Amen.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 42 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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9 Responses to Fear-mongering in America

  1. Lance says:

    Right on Mel. What would happen if we actually all believed in the power of love? It created the universe. I bet it can remove fear and motivate us to help and not hurt. There I go again sounding like Jesus. Yay God!

  2. mick25117 says:

    Islam and christianity so so similar…islam has stayed in its original form. Christianity was more brutal in its original form. Instead of fighting. Rejoice in our similarities…for amongst us may be truth

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks for your comments. Unfortunately, the brutal history of Christianity was whenever people who called themselves Christians weren’t very Christ-like but acted out of their own evil hearts. I agree that, rather than living from fear, we can seek to understand one another. As Jesus said, treat others as we would want to be treated. God is love, and loving others proves that we know God (1 John 4:7-8). And we can love others, no matter who they are, because they are precious to God. Blessings.

  3. Oh, Mel, I pray people hear you; I pray Christians begin to understand and take to heart what the Father’s love is all about.

  4. Cindy Powell says:

    Thanks for posting this Mel. I’ve been a bit dismayed by how profoundly fear has figured into people’s reactions to recent circumstances specifically in my own community (since we now have the dubious distinction of being known for the recent attacks). Even amongst those who, I believe, truly desire to walk in love, there has been a gross amount of over-reacting and folks are drawing some very strange conclusions. I’ve been seeing a whole lotta fear masquerading as “discernment” and “wisdom.” Praying for many Damascus Road type encounters – not just for those who may intend evil, but also amongst those who think they are “protecting” us! Blessings to you 😊

    • Mel Wild says:

      Amen. I don’t think we realize just how deeply this fear-based paradigm colors our actions and perception of things, even amongst otherwise spiritually mature believers. We only seem to react (or overreact) rather than respond with understanding. This is a gang-land retaliation mentality that only escalates rather than heals. Nothing good comes from it.

      Our “discernment” always goes through our paradigm, like water is flavored by the garden hose when we drink from it. It’s never purely objective.

      We should certainly take wise security measures but this knee-jerk overreaction is just fear-mongering at its worst. It has no place in the body of Christ. We forget who we are and Whose we are. We are citizens of heaven, first and foremost. Our thinking and perception should be different than the world’s. Sadly, it’s often not–it’s American, Republican, Democrat, etc. All of it’s still eating from the wrong Tree. It is the world we live in, but we as believers should know better.

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