It is rather difficult to believe the inanity of the "conversation" going around about Islam right now. It is fueled by a number of currents, some political and some cultural and some religious. You have this huge disconnect about the President's faith -- he's a CHRISTIAN folks, not a Muslim. It is fueled in part by at best misinformed people like Franklin Graham who go on CNN and say that Obama was born a Muslim because his father was a Muslim, and then when asked whether Obama is a Christian, gives this tepid answer -- when he knows the truth. Then you have the hullabaloo surrounding the Cordoba House (now Parc51) Islamic Center (today I got an email declaring that she had been told by someone that Osama Bin Laden is funding it). You have Newt Gingrich comparing Islam to the Nazi's.
Right now, we're in the midst of this "debate" where facts no longer seem to matter. And so, I think Stephen Prothero, Professor of Religion at Harvard, is exactly correct when he responded to a question from CNN's John King as to whether the current conversation about Islam is helpful. Prothero, who has a new book out (which I've not yet read) entitled God is not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World -- and Why Their Differences Matter, responded by saying that it's not helpful because the conversation about Islam is taking place at a "below kindergarten level."
One of the reasons why the debate is so skewed is that Americans suffer from an intense form of religious illiteracy, and that is dangerous. As Prothero demonstrates in his earlier book Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know and Doesn't, is that most Americans don't even know the tenets of their own faith. And if we're going to put an end to the misinformation, it's going to take those of us who are Christians to step up and say no to it.
I think that Prothero's presentation on CNN is something that needs to be heard. It's straightforward, pulls no punches, and gets to the bottom of the issue. So, take a look:
H/T Media Matters
See my review of Prothero's book Religious Literacy.