“A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 (NIV)
It is painfully evident that islamophobia in the United States is growing rapidly by the day. Anti-Muslim sentiment has been more pronounced ever since the 9/11 attacks, but now, the Muslim community – both in the United States and internationally – is being isolated more than ever. The administration certainly isn’t helping, from Trump’s false claims on the campaign trail about Muslims allegedly celebrating after 9/11 to the administration’s ongoing policies regarding immigration from primarily-Muslim countries (directly cited as “protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry”).
Even more polarizing than ever is the divide between evangelical Christians and Muslims. It can’t be ignored that some of Trump’s strongest supporters, from the campaign (81% of his voters were white, evangelical Christians) to now, and many of his cabinet members are outspoken Christians, such as Mike Pence and Ben Carson; these people have stood by him through all of his anti-Muslim sentiments and presidential orders. Moreover, as a Pew Research poll shows, 76% of white evangelical Christians supported Trump’s first Muslim ban.
As a Christian myself, I’m disappointed not only in our president’s actions and words, but in the lack of support for our Muslim brothers and sisters from the Christian community. You, the reader, must understand that Trump and his “Christian” supporters do not reflect the beliefs of Christianity. The most important part of being a Christian, as is stressed over and over again in the Bible, is to love; to love not only people who are like you or believe in what you do, but to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31, NIV). This atmosphere of hate isn’t what the Bible preaches, no matter how hard Christians and Christian lawmakers are trying to justify its causes as saving Christianity from the dark, evil clutches of Islam. Love is at the basis of our religion, so why aren’t we doing more to spread love and make every person feel loved and protected from this harmful, islamophobic political rhetoric?
The most important part of being a Christian is to love; to love not only people who are like you or believe in what you do, but to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Catherine Orsborn, the campaign director of Shoulder to Shoulder, an interfaith organization fighting against islamophobia, explained two of the most important qualities of being an ally to the Muslim community – even if you’re of a different faith: listening and humility. “You’re not coming in as the ‘savior’ of whatever group you’re walking beside and you don’t know everything.”
As Christians, our duty is to spread love no matter what, and to love everyone no matter what. It’s time to put aside differences, prejudices and preconceptions toward others who are different from us, and truly love everyone as ourselves.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)