I subscribe to the American Family Association email alerts because I want to know what they’re up to. Mostly they send out emails about what companies you should boycott because they offer domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples, and its a great way for me to know that I should write to thank Wal-Mart or the Home Depot for supporting their gay and lesbian employees.
Lately, the email alerts have been particularly disturbing because they are so blatantly trying to encourage hatred and intolerance for Muslims in the US. In the midst of everything that has been happening in the last seven years, this is very dangerous.
In November, I received an email telling me I should write to my representatives asking them to support legislation that would require that all elected officials take the oath of office on the Bible. This was in response to the announcement that Keith Ellison, the first elected Muslim in the US (go Minnesota!) planned to take his oath of office on the Quran.
I was livid. This is craziness. There are so many things wrong with this. First, what about the separation of church and state? Second, what about freedom of religion? Third, what about freedom of speech? I could go on about the fact that any oath that a Muslim would take on the Bible would be meaningless to that person, or how we should take a note from the Quakers don’t take oaths because they believe that they should be truthful all of the time. But this is like trying to have a rational argument with an irrational person.
This past week, I received a survey from the AFA on Islam. I’m sure they ramped up again because of all of the folks taking office in Washington this week, including Keith Ellison. Again, they got on their bandwagon of intolerance and peppered their constituents with questions about their opinion of Islam in America. The questions reveal an agenda to spread misinformation and hatred of Muslims, taking advantage of an already tense and fearful climate.
All of this scares, angers, and saddens me. It is so wrong, and I wish that it weren’t out there in the public sphere because of the hateful attitudes is espouses. On the other hand, I think its ultimately good that the AFA is revealing its blatant hate-mongering agenda. Let the people see it for what it is.
I identify as a Christian, a mantle I have reclaimed in recent years because I was tired of a small and hateful minority plucking my religious tradition out of my spiritual life. In the spirit of ecumenism, I do not begrudge the AFA from claiming its Christian identity. However, they are hijacking a peaceful tradition that is about unconditional love and radical social justice.
The AFA promotes bigotry thinly veiled behind a mask of Christianity that they claim gives them a moral high-ground. I am pleased that they are showing themselves more and more as the bigots they really are, making it clear that they alone are responsible for shaping the hateful attitudes they hold about those who are different from them.
Yesterday, Keith Ellison was sworn in as the first Muslim member of Congress using a Quran that was once owned by Thomas Jefferson. I am proud that my home state of Minnesota elected him.