Following the way of Jesus asks of us to support and learn from people of other faith traditions. This may sound counterintuitive at first. At its best, the Christian tradition asks us to listen for where the Divine is speaking, in whatever surprising places we may find it. We need others as a reminder of how much greater the Divine is than any one religious tradition's ability to fully capture it.
This is especially important in a religiously plural country where many religious minorities face discrimination and violence from what we might call Christian supremacists. For most of America's history, Christianity has been the dominant tradition, whether as a cultural identity marker or as a religious practice. We have a long legacy of actively instigating, condoning or remaining apathetic to violence against those outside our tradition. Only in the last few generations have Christians begun to constructively wrestle with the implications of a religiously plural world after centuries of animosity.
Affirming religious pluralism is at least a twofold process, what we could call a descriptive and a normative move, respectively. The first respects the right of diverse religious communities to exist and thrive in our pluralistic democracy. It takes this pluralism as a given, without necessarily saying whether one agrees with the content of their tradition. But others, like progressive Christians, go one step further: we seek to learn from other traditions that can provide insights that we ourselves lack or underemphasize.
Whether one takes this second, bolder stance, all Christians of conscience need to look for ways to support religious minorities in the United States that feel besieged in 2016. Hate crimes are increasing at an alarming rate against Muslims in particular. Muslim students are being bullied in schools, taunted as "ISIS." Sikhs are being assaulted for how they dress, fueled by stereotypes over what a Muslim (indistinguishable from a terrorist in their eyes) looks like. The fear of Muslims that leads to acts of hatred is a greater threat to our country than ISIS could ever pose.
In the past, it has taken the shock of unimaginable violence against religious minorities to snap people out of their collective slumber. We must say, loudly and unequivocally, we will not tolerate outbreaks of violence in our country. Whether that means supporting local efforts of Muslim communities to build a mosque, or calling out Christian siblings spouting anti-Muslim hate, we all have something we can do.
We will not sit by and let Muslims be banned from entering our country. We will not allow patrols to roam the streets of Muslim neighborhoods. We will not permit Anti-Semitism, the dismissal of indigenous spiritualities, or other long-standing religious biases to continue to infect our society. Religious discrimination has no place in our country, and Christians make a mockery of the name of Christ when they act in such a way or stand by and do nothing.
We are most faithful to the Christian tradition when we stand alongside those to whom others in our tradition condemn.
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