Driving to work yesterday, I heard the radio broadcast use the label “Muslim-American.” Muslim-American? Sorry, but no. Hyphenation works when employed on similar categories in order to be more specific. Moreover, it usually involves the speaker and the listener knowing why one word won’t work. The prime example, of course, is African-American. It’s difficult to track down who coined the term, but my own investigation into the matter has lead me to conclude that it was Malcolm X. Why did Malcolm X begin to use “African-American” as a label? Because he felt like it was rhetorically powerful to remind blacks and whites that blacks did not voluntarily immigrate to the USA. In other words, if you desired to be an American, you’re an American. If you didn’t, let’s tell the truth. (The value of the hyphenation being in its ability to convey truth.)
But Muslim-American? This hyphenation is categorically different and has an agenda based on deception, not truth. If we’re going to bring a person’s religion into the forum (by all means, when it’s appropriate please do), the very nature of their being religious means that for them there is no greater truth than their religion. For example, I am a Christian. This means I am loyal to the triune God. I am loyal to the triune God over and above any loyalties to man-made governments whose rule I find myself under. I am an American surely, but I am not a Christian-American. Do you see? The same for the killer. He was a Muslim. He was loyal to Allah over and above the laws of Florida.
Naturally, if the killer would not have associated himself with Islam during his rampage, we wouldn’t be talking about his religion. I’d put money that we’d be talking about his race or his ethnicity–anything to distance himself from our own reflection–but because we rightly value freedom of religion so highly, we would not tolerate speaking of his religion. However, since he allegedly did mention his religion, it is very appropriate to discuss Islam and violence. It is very appropriate to discuss that contrary to Malcolm X’s truth enhancing label, “African-American,” the label Muslim-American only attempts to hide the truth. Therefore, not only did a Muslim for self-purportedly religious reasons murder Americans, Americans are willfully being untruthful in their reporting of the massacre. The fact that secular authorities do not see how “Muslim-American” is deceptive is the first indication that Allah is not going to submit to secular America.
The second reason why Allah is not going to submit to secular America is in the same vein. I saw someone on the White House lawn holding a sign that read, “Stop Gun Violence and Stop Homophobia.” Stop homophobia? Have you totally lost touch with reality? Who exactly was homophobic during the tragedy? The nightclub? The killer? The patrons? The bartender? The mourning friends and family and surrounding communities and nation?
Homophobia is something limited to suburbia. Homophobia is when parents cover their child’s eyes when two men kiss on the television program they’re watching. Homophobia is when suburban American churches have an unwritten rule that homosexuals are really not welcome, despite Jesus’ call for all humans to repent and submit themselves to the triune God. Mowing down over a hundred people in cold blood is not homophobia! It is evil–pure evil.
To be clear, I was homophobic. And I have never, not once, never have I ever killed anyone. Heck, part of the reason I wanted to work at a strip club is I did not like that I was homophobic and wanted to force myself to get over my fear. Do you see the difference between homophobia and evil? If we accept labeling the killer a ‘homophobe’, we again miss the fact that he was a Muslim. And as we lose sight of the truth, we devalue the atrocity and the worth of the victims’ lives. Furthermore, we devalue our own lives. We miss the fact that his Muslim-ness and his understanding of Allah are at the root of his calculated perpetration of evil upon his fellow humans. If he would have been a Christian, I’d be arguing the same thing. But he wasn’t. It wasn’t homophobia that slaughtered 50 people. It was a Muslim man who apparently was at once delusional and not delusional regarding his ability to help ISIS wage war on the godless (Allah-less), secular West.
Should homophobia be stopped? Absolutely. Is stopping homophobia something that needs our attention today? Absolutely not. Today, it’s time to look at the facts. The deadliest terror attack on American soil was perpetrated by Muslims identifying Islam/Allah as their motivation. The deadliest mass shooting was perpetrated by a Muslim identifying Islam/Allah as his reason.
Even one of America’s favorite blockbuster films, The Matrix, identifies “denial” as the most predictable response we have to a reality that conflicts with our desires. You may desire that gods do not exist. You may desire that America is what we were taught it was as we grew up in the 80s. You may desire “separation of church and state” to mean that church has no value to the state. You may desire religion does not matter. But desiring these things does not manifest them. This (our unwillingness to accept the killer’s religion, not his homophobia, as the reason for his actions), then, is the second indication that Allah won’t submit to secular America. Secular America does not want to believe religion matters. And Muslims know Allah matters.
Christians, after prayer, the next step is to befriend Muslims. Do you know any? I know one. (We stopped talking after we stopped working together.) If you do, then become better friends. The easiest way I can think to do this is simply to share meals. Invite them to your dinner table and get yourself invited to theirs. Additionally, in an effort to meet more Muslims, we need to have “church” functions that appeal to Muslims who are looking to distance themselves from Islam right now. Again, I’d suggest potlucks open to the neighborhood. I’ve seen Muslims in bowling alleys as well. Maybe have a bowling night/potluck combo event. I know it sounds silly to treat them as if they’re different and hard to find, but social-awkwardness hasn’t stopped me in the past, so I’m not going to let it now. (And this is my blog…) We worship the triune God who, in sending Jesus, took the form of one of us so that we might be free from the bondage of sin, and surely Muslims need to be around intentional Christians as much as we need to be around each other.
The only other thing I ask of you is for you to begin to incorporate “triune” as you see I try to do when describing the Christian god. Throughout most of human history, people knew the Israelites (via Yahweh) and Christians (via Jesus) were worshiping another god than theirs. These days, however, non-believers (secular Americans especially), want to lump all gods into one god. This is simply not true. It’s time to clarify the difference. Christians serve the triune God, Muslims serve Allah. If Christians continue to use the ambiguous, impersonal noun “god” to describe the triune God, then we, ourselves, dilute the truth and allow the secular culture to define our reality.