Friday, September 21, 2012

Essay at Patheos: Evangelical Reflections on a Muslim World Aflame

My first essay with the Evangelical portal of Patheos has been published. It is a piece that looks at Evangelical responses to religious pluralism and interreligious dialogue. From the piece:
If we're willing to engage in critical self-reflection, evangelicals will acknowledge that in the years since 9/11 few of us have done much to improve interreligious understanding.
To their credit, some evangelicals did get involved in sending well wishes to the Sikhs who lost loved ones in August's gurdwara shooting in Wisconsin. And other evangelicals showed support for Muslims whose mosque was torched in Missouri. But where have large segments of evangelicalism been in response to these recent events, or in interreligious engagement as a result of 9/11? Given the work of evangelicalism in pressing cultural issues, why isn't interreligious engagement on our social agenda? And why, for the most part, have evangelical leaders been conspicuously absent in regards to interreligious engagement? Perhaps it is a combination of indifference plus fear of the fallout when they do try to get involved. When Rick Warren worked alongside the Muslim community in Southern California, evangelicals attacked him for advancing "Chrislam," a syncretistic hybrid of Christianity and Islam.
The whole entry can be read here. Look for my regular contributions to Patheos in the future, as well as others who are part of the Evangelical Chapter of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy.


Gary said...

Dear friend,

Have you ever considered that it is RELIGION that is the problem?

John W. Morehead said...

Gary, thanks for stopping by and commenting. To answer your question, "No." The idea that religion is "the" problem cannot be substantiated.

First, I'd suggest you consider William T. Cavanaugh's book "The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict" where he argues that it is impossible to define and mark out religion as a cultural and causal factor apart from others.

Second, apart from Cavanaugh's argument, while religion may be construed as a contributing factor, it is hardly the only one, and probably not the major factor. In Robert Pape's book "The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism" he looks at Islamic terrorist acts and concludes that it is politics that is the major factor and not religion.

Third, human beings will use anything to justify acts of violence, whether religious ideas or secular ones. Recall the deaths of so many based upon secular ideologies under Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. So skepticism does not get a pass on the contribution to human violence.

So folks like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins need to reassess their understanding of this issue and the argument they put forward. It's misinformed and falls short.