Shahada

Reciting the Shahadah: How would actual Tennessee parents describe their concerns?

Reciting the Shahadah: How would actual Tennessee parents describe their concerns?

If you follow the national news, you probably know that the state of Tennessee is involved in yet another battle over the role of Islam in the public square. There are some people here in my state who truly want to see Islam go away and who seem to think that the First Amendment's protection of religious liberty applies to some religious believers, but not others.

However, when one of these battles begins it is important for news consumers to ask a few basic questions about the coverage. Let's assume that we are talking about another battle about Islam and conservative forms of Christianity.

(1) Does the coverage assume that all of the people in each camp believe exactly the same things? Is there only one approach to Islam presented? Does the coverage assume that all evangelicals take the same approach to Islam?

(2) When reading about critics of Islam, are we reading their actual criticisms or only views that are being attributed to them by others? On the other side, are Muslims involved in the conflict allowed to describe their own beliefs in their own language?

In other words, are the journalists covering a debate or are they quoting the participants in the debate that fit a certain template of what the debate is about?

The current debate in Tennessee focuses on questions about what students in public schools should be taught about Islam and when they should be taught this material. Here is a typical description of what the fight is about, drawn from a new piece in The Tennessean. The lede focuses on a bill proposed by Republican Rep. Sheila Butt that would forbid the teaching of religious doctrine in Tennessee schools until the 10th grade.

Some parents complained after students were reportedly asked to write down "Allah is the only god" and memorize the five pillars of Islam. The complaints prompted statements from U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Butt and other conservative lawmakers blasting districts for possible indoctrination.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Christians and persecution: So the 4th Century meets the 21st Century?

Christians and persecution: So the 4th Century meets the 21st Century?

In interpreting 21st Century religious conflict, newswriters might gain perspective from the bitter Christian schism by the 4th Century “Donatists.” These hardliners refused to recognize the validity of bishops who compromised in order to escape execution during the last wave of vicious persecution by the Roman Empire. That scourge lasted from A.D. 303 until Constantine became emperor of the West (312) and ordered religious toleration in the Edict of Milan (313).    
Today, Christians are likewise debating what to do amid the killing, rape, kidnapping, torture and thievery aimed at them -- and others -- by a radical faction within world Islam. Muslim traditionalists insist this mayhem violates teachings of the Quran and of the Prophet Muhammad.

The Mideast dominates the sorrow and the news coverage, but Christianity Today correspondents Jayson Casper in Cairo and Tom Osanjo in Nairobi draw our attention to the African continent.

Case study: During  those repellent beachfront beheadings, a Muslim advised a Christian friend named Osama Mansour to escape Libya by growing a beard, carrying a prayer rug and covering a Coptic tattoo on his wrist with a fake cast. Azar Ajaj of Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary said pretending to be Muslim was an ethical tactic because Mansour did not lie outright or deny his faith in Christ.

East Africa’s  al-Shabaab gunmen have allowed people to escape death if they can prove they are Muslims by recitations  in Arabic or answering such questions as the name of Muhammad’s mother. Since the Westgate Mall massacre at Nairobi,  Kenya’s Christians have been boning up on Muslim trivia and sharing online tips about pretending to be Muslim in life-or-death emergencies.

Please respect our Commenting Policy