“Lord, do you want us to command
fire to come down from heaven
and consume [Samaritans]?”
James and John to Jesus
Samaritans, who share religious roots with Muslims, utterly rejected Jesus and his disciples. So the disciples proposed Holy War. Jesus rebuked them.
Samaritans and Jews detested each other: As to religion, Jews cursed Samaritans in their synagogues; as to race, Jews called Samaritans half-breeds; as to foreigners, Jews walked 40 additional miles when traveling north just to avoid Samaria.
Americans mimic this hatred by reviling Muslims: 56 percent recently polled stated Islam is not consistent with American values. This ignores three million Muslim-Americans, most born here, who cherish this nation.
Enter Donald Trump. He hysterically whips up fears of Muslims and Mexicans. He even retweets that whites are killed by blacks 81 percent of the time—with a black man’s image pointing a gun. The truth: Whites killed by blacks total 14 percent.
Though many differ, some prominent Republicans denounce Trump’s exclusion of Muslims as fascism, or declare he violates American values. RI Republican Party Chair Brandon Bell calls Trump’s proposal “un-Republican, un-American and unconstitutional.”
Sadly, I must also conclude Trump is a white supremacist. The evidence: Trump hates and fears people for their religion (Muslims) and their race (blacks) as well as foreigners (Mexicans).
Trump dismisses Jesus’ teaching to love people whose religion, race or nation is different. Jesus’ parable of The Good Samaritan—not The Good Israelite—was scandalous. Today, instead of The Good American, Jesus would scandalize Trump’s followers with the parable of The Good Muslim.
Actually, Christian extremists have killed and maimed far more Americans in recent years than Muslim extremists. Anti-abortion bombers and “Christian” mass shooters are terrorists. Indeed, the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies 142 neo-Nazi and 72 Ku Klux Klan groups. Christian identity and sovereign citizen groups have also increased.
Still, can we imagine discriminating against Christians as Trump discriminates against 1.5 billion Muslims? Imagine a “total and complete shutdown” of Christians entering this country. Imagine registering our nation’s Christians. Imagine surveying and closing churches.
Hatred and fear of all Muslims is no more justified than for Christians.
The U.S. is not a theocracy. We are not a “Christian nation.” We cannot favor one religion, but must affirm America’s religious freedom for all.
Jesus taught we must take the log out of our own eye before removing the speck in our neighbor’s eye. So consider the 3,000 who died on 9/11 as well as the fourteen in San Bernardino. How horrendous these attacks were for our nation! Now consider the half million Iraqis who died. That’s 166 days of 9/11 attacks.
American deaths from 9/11 are one per 100,000; Iraqi deaths are one per 75. Four million Iraqis—one in ten—are refugees. Iraq is decimated.
We rightly condemn jihad, a Holy War. But our politicians’ moral justifications for Iraq’s invasion begat a vastly more destructive Holy War than 9/11.
Jesus rebuked his disciples’ Holy War “solution” for enemies. Do we agree regarding our wars?
It’s not just Iraq. Many want to escalate war in Syria. Have we learned nothing from our failures? How many more years will we kill and be killed in the Middle East? How many more lone wolf attacks must we endure? Does our unceasing warfare risk another massive attack? Are we really surprised that inflicting great suffering brings retaliation?
The military cannot defeat terrorism. Bombs and bombastic rhetoric continually recruit ISIS fighters.
We must overcome our country’s fears and purge our national prejudices. Recall the aspiration of the Star Spangled Banner’s concluding verse. The opposite occurs, our nation becoming ‘the land of the cruel, and the home of the fearful,’ if we adopt Trump’s dogma instead of Jesus’ teachings.