Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ignorance isn't Bliss -- It's dangerous

Yesterday I wrote about the recent Pew Forum survey of religious knowledge, a survey that revealed that Americans are rather ignorant when it comes to religion -- even our own religious tenets.  But while ignorance might be bliss it can also be dangerous, for it leads to persecution, repression, and even violence.  It has political consequences, as we're seeing in the ongoing attempt to smear the President, who though he is by confession of faith a Christian, is being painted as a Muslim.  Now there's nothing wrong with being a Muslim -- in my mind -- but in the minds of many Islam equals terrorism, and thus, if the President is a Muslim then he must be in secret league with terrorists. 

One of the points that comes out of the Pew Survey is the need to teach comparative religion, treating every religion fairly.  Unfortunately this effort at overcoming ignorance is hampered on two fronts -- those who want a doctrinal Christian view taught in the schools, and those who want to exclude all forms of religion from the schools.  And, of course, the schools, with enough other problems on their plate want to stay clear of any controversy, so they simply don't address religion.  They know that offering comparative religion or bible as literature classes will be a lose-lose situation.

It is in this context that John Esposito, one of the preeminent scholars of Islam (and a Roman Catholic), and Sheila Lalwani, a fellow at the Center for Christian-Muslim Understanding at Georgetown University, which Esposito directs, respond to news that the Texas Board of Education, a Board that has offered up bizarre decisions on science textbooks and American history textbooks, have voted by a 7-6 margin to oppose textbooks that in their view portray Christianity unfavorably and "gloss over" unfavorable aspects of Islam.  The authors suggest that this decision can have a disastrous effect on Muslim-Christian relations and feed Islamophobia, in large part because the impact that the Texas school system has on text-book publishing across the nation.  What the Texas Board decides influences the textbooks used in districts across the country.  

Ignorance of religion is not bliss, it is dangerous.  Indeed, as the Esposito and Lalwani make clear -- Islam isn't the enemy, ignorance is!  It is this ignorance that is being used for political purposes to divide and conquer the nation.  The question is, then, what shall we do to dispel the clouds of ignorance that are hanging over the nation?  

10 comments:

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gary said...

What is with the Left's embrace of Islam? How do you Lefies explain it?

John said...

Not embrace of Islam but desire for balance and tolerance. I would ask why the right is so afraid of "the other" whoever the other may be.

John

Brian said...

Whatever one thinks of a particular religion, including different expressions of one's own religion, one can only benefit by decreasing ignorance.

The more we learn about each other, the better we will be able to put love into practice.

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gary said...

John,

Speaking for myself, I am wary of Islam because of its history of violence and oppression. It is also a false religion, which is always dangerous. We have many false religions in America, but most of them are not violent.

The liberal notion that all religions are equally valid is simply not true. Despite the claims of Hussein Obama, there are not many ways to God.

John said...

God alone chooses who will be saved, and the choice is not based on merit. God has said that it is the divine desire that all be saved. So then how do we humans understand who will be saved? Because they believe as we do? Sounds like merit to me.

God will save those whom god will save. It is for us to follow his commandments toward each other: love and forgiveness, kindness and hopefulness. The rest is for God to sort out, presumably using the same qualities called forth in us, love and forgiveness and kindness.

I perceive that most religions have a violent potential within them, especially when religious beliefs are wielded as a weapon by extreme elements within each faith tradition, claiming certainty as to the truth, and intent on attacking and destroying all who disagree with their view of things. That includes Christianity.

John

Gary said...

God threatens violence against unbelievers, but nowhere in the New Testament will you find instructions for Christians to kill unbelievers, or use violence, or the threat of violence(human) in order to "convert" anyone. One of the many differences between Christianity and Islam.

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

David,

Fear and the inability to trust in the Lord to take of the Lord's own.

John