Since American Muslims are being pressured to root out extremists in their midst, and to publicly denounce terrorism done in the name of their faith, Christians in America ought to do the same. We should do it in order to stand in solidarity with our beloved Muslim sisters and brothers who are being disrespected by opportunistic politicians and jingoistic Christian leaders whom I will not reward by naming. And we should do it for the sake of US national security.
Insulting, profiling, and rejecting Muslims is exactly what ISIS and other extremists want Americans to do, so that they will have more fertile ground in this country for recruitment. For a long time, America has been the best place in the world for Muslims to practice their faith freely. Let's do our part as Christians to keep it that way -- for everyone's sake.
What Muslims are being asked to do is wrong. No Muslim in America, and no Muslim group in America, can or should take on the task of "rooting out" violent Islamic extremism. That's an impossible task for an individual, for a mosque, or for an Islamic advocacy group.
That is a task for the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. All of us in civil society, regardless of religious affiliation, have an obligation to report activity that might be related to terrorism. But none of us can be expected to "root it out," because we don't have the credentials, skills, resources, or time to do so. Likewise, it makes no sense to expect individual Muslims to denounce terrorism, nor for their mosques nor advocacy organizations to do the same, any more than the rest of us should. Every American ought to be assumed to oppose terrorism and religiously-motivated violence unless they declare otherwise, in which case the FBI should be notified.
But even though what they're being asked to do is inappropriate and unrealistic, our Muslim friends feel the pressure. So we who are Christians ought to stand with them and make it clear that nobody should have to publicly defend their faith against people who do terrible things in its name. To that end:
On behalf of Christianity in America, I personally apologize for the violence that has been committed by members of my faith. I denounce the recent mass murder at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs by a Christian terrorist, and similar murders at abortion clinics committed by Christian terrorists. Their actions put the lie to their claims to be Christians.
I apologize for the vicious persecution of gay and lesbian people in Africa that has been fomented by American Christians. For instance, they have advocated for laws in Uganda that make homosexuality punishable by life in prison. This poisoning of minds and hearts is the very opposite of the gospel message.
I apologize for the German Christians who participated in the killing of 6 million Jews, and for the racist persecution of Jews shown by Christians in America and many other countries preceding the Holocaust for hundreds of years.
I apologize for and I condemn the racial discrimination, the violence, and the institution of slavery in America, perpetrated and defended by white Christians against black people for over 400 years, and continuing as racial profiling today.
I apologize for the suppression of Native American culture and traditions by Christian missionaries.
I apologize for the bloody insanity of the Crusades and the mayhem perpetrated by the Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials, to name but a few of the many stains put on our religion by Christian extremists throughout the history of the faith.
I promise to root out Christian terrorism and extremism as best I can. Unfortunately I have to make a living, so I must keep my day job, and unfortunately I have family obligations as well, so my time and resources are limited for carrying out this necessary task. Potential Christian terrorists lurk in every church, so we must all be on high alert at all times to prevent the next horrible incident from occurring. I hope that my vigilant, suspicious attitude doesn't spoil my relationships with people in my church, but I have to take the anti-terrorism challenge with utmost seriousness.
If any of this sounds extreme or even a bit silly, let us be aware that what I've written here is precisely what millions of American non-Muslims expect from their Muslim neighbors. None of our Muslim friends should have to make such disclaimers as individuals or as groups, any more that I should have to do so for my religion. Demanding it of them hurts their hearts, and in the process weakens America's national security.