Taking Exception: How Muhammad Ali Transformed American Religion - Sightings (M. Cooper Harriss)
America took notice when word came that Muhammad Ali had died. Boxing champion, entertainer, one-time pariah, and religious figure. I didn't really come to know about him until his return to the ring in 1971. I wasn't paying attention in 1967 as he stood against the Vietnam War and ended up losing his boxing title and his freedom. I always knew him as Muhammad Ali. Only later did I learn about his political stand against the war and against white racism. As for his religion, I never really thought about it as I watched him interact with Howard Cosell. Perhaps only now, in death, will we come to grapple with his religion. This essay by M. Cooper Harriss lays out in brief a starting point for that conversation. I invite you to read and offer your thoughts. As a Christian who affirms the inclusive nature of Jesus' message, Muhammad Ali's experience with Jim Crow that led to his conversion to the Nation of Islam, is a reminder that Christians have not always represented Jesus well.