Americans fear terrorism, mass shootings — and often Muslims as well

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(RNS) Terrorism and mass shootings trouble an overwhelming number of Americans today, and the religious identity of the killers influences how they are viewed.

A new survey, conducted in the aftermath of the San Bernardino, Calif., killings by two radical Muslims, found that 96 percent of U.S. adults see terrorism as a critical issue or an important concern.

Mass shootings also are a critical or important issue for 94 percent of Americans, according to the Public Religion Research Institute/Religion News Service poll. And they take this fear personally:

  • Four years ago, only 53 percent told PRRI that terrorism was a critical issue. Now, it’s 75 percent.
  • Nearly half (47 percent) say they are very or somewhat worried that they or someone in their family will be a victim of terrorism, up from 33 percent in 2014.
  • 2 in 3 of those surveyed (67 percent) called mass shootings a critical issue, and another 27 percent say it’s an important concern.

Terrible news of mass shootings in 2015 — including in Charleston, S.C.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Roseburg, Ore.; Paris; and now San Bernardino — could be driving the responses, said PRRI research director Dan Cox.

“The fear level seems terribly high given the actual likelihood of this happening to an individual. That speaks to the deep-seated feelings of anxiety that people have and their response to some of the current, heated political rhetoric,” said Cox.

Muslims are the focus of the hottest news — and some of the ugliest political rhetoric — right now.

The FBI describes the California shooters, Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farook, as ISIS-radicalized Muslims out to terrorize the United States by mowing down Farook’s co-workers.

GOP presidential contender Donald Trump, whose call for a ban on allowing Muslims to enter the U.S. came after the survey was conducted, has fulminated for weeks against allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S.

And his rival Ben Carson has said Islam is not in accord with American values.

The PRRI/RNS survey found this rhetorical climate might have influenced views on whether American Muslims are seen as “an important part of the U.S. religious community.”

Overall, 57 percent of Americans say yes, they are. However, views on the virtue of such diversity vary by religious identification — and by how personally afraid of terrorism someone feels.

Agree or Disagree: American Muslims are an important part of the religious community in the U.S. By religious affiliation. Graphic courtesy of Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI)
Agree or Disagree: American Muslims are an important part of the religious community in the U.S. By religious affiliation. Graphic courtesy of Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI)

Those who see Muslims as important to U.S. religious life include:

  • Nearly 7 in 10 (67 percent) of those with no religious identity
  • Majorities of nonwhite Protestants (56 percent) and Catholics (55 percent)
  • Only about half of white mainline Protestants (51 percent) and white evangelical Protestants (47 percent)

Jews, Muslims and other minority religious groups were too small to be analyzed in statistical comparisons. The survey’s results are based on phone interviews with 1,003 adults, conducted Dec. 2-6. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points overall but larger for subgroups.

“Despite the heated rhetoric we are hearing from people like Donald Trump,” Cox said, “the majority of the public (53 percent) are in favor of letting Syrian refugees come to the U.S. if they go through stringent security checking.” Among those who oppose this, a majority (57 percent) cited security fears.

Fewer than half of Protestants — whether they are white or black, evangelical or mainline — say they support U.S. entry for Syrian refugees. By contrast, 57 percent of Catholics and 60 percent of those who claim no religious identification favor such resettlement.

Which comes closer to your view about how the U.S. should deal with Syrian refugees who want to come to this country? By religious affiliation. Graphic courtesy of Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI)
Which comes closer to your view about how the U.S. should deal with Syrian refugees who want to come to this country? By religious affiliation. Graphic courtesy of Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI)

The statistics do reveal some dissonance.

Most Americans (83 percent) say they know little or nothing about the religious practices and beliefs of Muslims. And 62 percent say they seldom or never have conversations with anyone they know to be Muslim.

Even so, 47 percent overall say they believe the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life. More than 4 in 10 (43 percent) disagree, while 1 in 10 (10 percent) offer no opinion or refuse to answer.

And a majority (53 percent) said Muslims have not done enough to combat extremism in their own communities. In 2011, only 46 percent held this view.

The survey also suggests a double standard in American attitudes toward violence, one based on a killer’s religious identity.

Three in 4 (75 percent) say self-identified Christians who “commit acts of violence in the name of Christianity are not really Christian.”

But only 50 percent say self-proclaimed Muslims who commit violent acts in the name of Islam “are not really Muslim.”

(Cathy Lynn Grossman is senior national correspondent for RNS)

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59 comments

  1. “Three in 4 (75 percent) say self-identified Christians who “commit acts of violence in the name of Christianity are not really Christian.” But only 50 percent say self-proclaimed Muslims who commit violent acts in the name of Islam “are not really Muslim.”

    This is a very important issue to unpack. I’d love to hear an authoritative response to the main point of this view. Most Christians agree that Christ modeled and taught the preeminent focus and ethic of nonviolence. They do not deny that there is biblical history of wars, violence, ethnic subjugations in the old testament etc but that in the New Covenant, Jesus laid down the “Law of Christ”(Galatians 6:2) a law that prohibits murder and aggression against one’s enemies.

    This change, fundamentally shapes the ethics of the new testament. It demands a new point of reference when asking what God wants, expects and models for us in behavior, belief and understanding for His followers.

    I hear many Islam defenders say that the Bible contains sanctioned wars, divine violence etc, so it’s hypocritical to point the finger at Islam. Is it fair to stand up Muhammed and his teachings as the founder of Islam in contrast with Jesus, as the founder of Christianity and compare?

    If you follow the teachings of Muhammed will it produce peace?
    If you follow the teachings of Jesus will it produce peace?

    I am not interested in arguing what followers may or may not do, but at the core, does the teaching of these two religious leaders produce peace if their teachings are followed?

    Is that a fair question?

    • Fair question! Interested to see how this discussion goes.

    • I know very little about Islam. But I was alerted just today to Dennis Prager, whom a friend dubbed “The Jerry Falwell of the Jews.” He spews transphobia in the name of Torah, and I know homophobia in the name of Torah has also been expressed even by some folks in our community. (A minority, but still.) Judaism isn’t often discussed as a religion that can be distorted to promote violence or hate, but any tradition can be. I know enough amazing Muslim people to know that a life of following Islam can be a peaceful and inspiring life.

    • And people who say they’re following the teachings of Jesus and this discriminate against LGBT people… Well, that’s the other side of the coin. There’s no one way to follow Jesus or Muhammad.

    • I don’t know, Eric, I suppose that depends on your motives, and how you define following the teachings. Who gets to decide. Because I find it interesting that you would post something like this, seemingly just out of genuine curiosity, and yet when you ask on another thread about reading the Quran, and someone says, “Sure, as long as we read and compare the bible alongside it,” your response is to ask if reading is a combative act for them. To sort of quote another of your responses, I’d say that says more about YOUR mindset than it does theirs.

    • Eric, you CHOOSE Christ. You CHOOSE the New Testament. You CHOOSE the Bible. And you do so because you first chose to accept the AUTHORITY of our constitution ahead of your chosen religion.

      You look to the Bible for AUTHORITY to govern your choices and actions and yet the one choice that gave you everything you hold dear in His name did not originate governed by His authority?

      How does this make sense?

      My experience is that we can most definitely trust in logic and reason to find simple truth, but we must first embody the conviction, discipline and fortitude to surrender to where it might take us.

      For those whose relationship with their religion and values does not originate in comparative freedom, but rather, inherited or imposed relationship, it is not a fair question.

      At the beginning of the day, we must all first agree on our right to choose. Once this is established, then WE can ask which frameworks (like religion) work best atop this principle and for what reason (like peace).

      IF we can get to this point together, I highly recommend the constructive endeavor you suggest here. Without foundational agreement in our innate freedoms of choice, however, the exercise is futile.

      IF we are to embrace faith in scripture by choice, then comparison of merit is only logical. Obviously, parameters of scope and translation must be handled before worthy comparison could develop.

      • This is from the Intro to my copy of the Qu-ran:

        “Blessed is he who sent down the criterion to his servant, that it may be an admonition to all creatures.”

        “Nothing have we omitted from the book.”

        “And we have sent down to the book explaining all things.”
        (Surat 1,38,89)

        Quran commentary:
        “It is a theoretical and practical book, not only moralizing but also defining specifically the permissible and the for bidden. The importance of understanding the message of the Qur-an is undeniable, but simply reciting it with the intention of seeking Allah’s pleasure and reward is also an act of worship and meritorious in itself.”

        That doesn’t sound as complicated as all of the responses I’ve gotten.

        • Darn. Foul. What I replied was NOT complicated at all. Simple logical foundation. Your reply to my comment does not further your previous invitation for exploration of merit, but rather calls for argument upon dogmatic reference without context. As I said, futile. Eric, I understand how exhausted you must feel hanging out on this forum, but sometimes, you are just as lazy as those you criticize. If you’re going to put forth an honest plea, then don’t spin on a dime and call shots like this. The merit of Jesus’ TEACHINGS is not in the context in which they have ever been couched, but always the teachings themselves, no more, no less. IF you were SINCERELY going to invest in a fair and balanced comparison of merit between the teachings of Jesus and the teachings of Muhammad, such opening volleys as this would have to be completely out of bounds. (Foul.)

          • Yes, exhausted is putting it mildly. I’ve read the articles here on the subject, responded by choosing to read about Islam from a historian and read the Quran. I proposed what I thought was a simple idea, read the text ourselves. Obviously not, as simple or generous as I thought it would be. Whatever, I started reading it today. This just reaffirms how far outside I am from the general folk that engage this site.

          • Yes, I definitely agree your voice IS FAR OUTSIDE the majority of those who have so far chosen to invest in the very challenging effort of ENGAGEMENT on this site. I’ve commented to several folks that you are ‘my hero’ on FāVS and that without your participation specifically, I might not be here. A note about reading the Koran, my copy explains how it’s not actually the Koran, but rather, ‘the meaning of’ the Koran versus, the ‘Glorious Koran,’ itself, due to inability to translate its whole expression into English. While I support comparative analysis, any and all such conditions need be addressed up front, else sincere endeavors will merely be dismissed at will by such contingencies.

          • Thanks Riff, not much heroism in all this in my view but I appreciate the kind words. I think the evidence of most the interchange reflects the challenge that most avoid. In the end most people just opt for silence, leaving or safe distance.

          • Rather than blow-by-blow analysis of Christian versus Islamic scripture (daunting), I wonder if a simple invitation of “Which words (scripture) inspire folks the most (and why) of words of Muhammad COMPARED to words of Jesus?” When folks have challenged my personal choice to LIMIT my relationship to Christ to the red letters of the four Gospels of the New Testament of the King James Bible, I respond by asking how relying upon a more expanded reference has made a difference in their lives. For me, the words of Christ that have served me the most are definitely, Matthew 5:33-48. Would it be appropriate to ask followers of Islam what words of Muhammad serve them most toward peace both in their own hearts and minds as well as in their communities?

          • I’m sure there’s a place for sharing inspirational verses from various religions but that’s missing the context of my inquiry. But now I’m seeing that the real issue is we’re possibly playing games in public square. It’s a game of misdirection.

            I’m told Islam is a violent religion.

            I’m told Islam is a peaceful religion.

            I’m told to read the Quran.

            I’m told I can’t really read the Quran.

            In my mind if someone presents a “way” that is so mysterious, complicated, inaccessible or needs a PR campaign, it’s not for all time, all people, in all places.

            I’m a Christian because I examined the person and teachings of Christ in the gospels and encountered a reality of truth and experience that made sense of the world and my life. It shed light on how to live this life with meaning, purpose and accountability.

            At 15 I understood enough to encounter, receive and respond to God. I did this outside of a person or church and inspite of my orientation to all that was contrary to its message at first.

            It was a spiritual, moral and intellectual transformation based in the experience of God, through Christ, by the Spirit in the context of the Bible, particularly the gospels at first.

            My experience is mine, I’m aware of that limitation, but the means were convincing and transformative.

            If such an encounter is inaccessible through the Quran that is problematic to me in regards to figuring out truth.

          • It sounds like the gospels were the focal lens through which you chose Christianity. Often I wonder if the Quran has such a fulcrum? When approached in its entirety, the Bible can definitely be “mysterious, complicated, inaccessible” and seem in need of a good PR campaign. To me, the Bible is the story which has carried the gospel. Thx!

          • Riff,
            My Quran spends a fair amount of Intro ink saying similar things about the sublime, transcendent nature of the divine gift of Arabic. This is one major point that sets the whole new or better or more complete revelation off on a rather obvious ethnic/language centric bias that’s hard not to read into with the historical Arab/Jew tension in my view.

            The intro then goes to considerable length to assure the reader that the English translation they are getting is heavily vetted by qualified Islamic scholars. It’s been approved, reviewed and worthy of reading, worship and education.

            So from its own intro, I already find difficult cultural and religious bias and yet sufficient self affirming grounds to engage the book without all the reading and understanding prohibitions my post has generated.

          • My comments were intended as cautionary, not prohibitive. I highly encourage delving into the text as it is made accessible to one’s own language. No different than a Catholic (let alone TRADITIONALIST Catholic) will challenge the Protestant lens by which you encounter Christ, your efforts will be derailed in many minds along grounds of translation and interpretation.

            Personally, my own experience tells me you will not succeed in the endeavor you are proposing. However, that does not mean the exercise cannot bear fruit.

            Dogmatism is a painful contruct within human minds. Jesus’ teachings address this conundrum. The Old Testament? (Not so much.) A thread which tugs on this truth can be found in Star Wars, Episode III, when just before Obi Wan Kenobi fights Anakin, he says, “Only a sith deals in absolutes.”

            While you may not see your participation as ‘heroic,’ it sure brings gremlins out of the woodwork 🙂

          • Well, maybe your are right and one can’t intellectually, morally or culturally understand or apply the teachings of the Quran due to being born in the wrong country or culture. If such a barrier to THE truth is in place, it would lend me to yet another conclusion to the veracity of the Quran’s own claims.

            But whatever the case, my initial reading is offering up a host of very clear differences to the teaching of the bible, especially the New Testament. So at least there is a clear apologetic benefit from seeing the contrast between the teachings of the Quran and the Bible.

            The common cultural cliche about “all the religions” are the same rhetoric, is obviously said without much first hand sourcing going on.

            I found it pretty interesting that so many folks are extremely knee jerk about Sharia law, as communicated by talk radio and the inter webs and FOX newish sources. These folks are usually poo pooed as alarmist, Islamaphobes that don’t have a clue about what they are talking about. This may be true for many, but in the very start of my reading in the intro, it states this:

            “It (the Quran) contains a complete code which provides for all areas of life, whether spiritual, intellectual, political, social or economic. It is a code which has no boundaries of time, place or nation.
            “Verily this Qur-an doth guide to that which is most right.” (Surat al-israa: 9)

            So, I guess it’s going to be a interesting ride reading and sifting the cultural commentary and rhetoric going on about Islam and the teachings of the Quran. It will be interesting to see what the endeavor confirms or contradicts.

          • Because I respect the sincerity of your intentions, Eric, I will elaborate a bit further. The Christianity you know and love is not the INSTITUITION it was 2,000, 1,000, 500, 250, 100, or even 50 years ago (on this last figure, just see the film, ‘Spotlight,’ to get my meaning).

            AMERICA has had A LOT to do with bringing the truth of Christianity back into the light.

            You know firsthand what it means to be your brand of Christianity compared to others.

            You also know before America what it meant to to live under various Christian heads of state.

            Please keep in mind that we may possibly be instrumental in bringing the truth of another great religion seven-hundred years younger (multitudes alone make it great) into the light.

            Please remember this can be a terrifying, painful and traumatic experience to blind followers.

            Jesus IS the true Son of God BECAUSE His Truth is universal. The truth of His words can be found without ever knowing of Him because every particle and wave is built upon His Laws.

            The United States of America was founded upon faith in these truths.

            The inalienable rights we hold most dear are such reflections.

            Could being an American Muslim be distinct from being Muslim of Muslim nationality?

            I ask you to please ponder this possibility.

            Jesus challenged the hierarchy in order to place the sacrament back in the hands of the people.

            For me, the soul, the heart of Christianity will always be the gospel red letters and how they demonstrate themselves in the world, no more, no less, because I will always refuse to allow INSTITUTIONS predicated upon them to cloud the simplicity of His message.

          • Riff, I do think there is a need for a reformation type era in Islam. I’m not yet aware of the internal message of the Quran, to place a hope that it’s own teaching could support that goal.

            A return to the most true teaching within a institution is much different than trying to hijack or redefine one.

            Cultural influence isn’t spiritual revival in my estimation, though in many cases it’s probably better than ignorance, bigotry or outdated and abusive values.

            Like my original post stated, the NT, calls for a radical reorientation of the people of God in relationship to the way, truth and life if Jesus. This involved massive change.

            The new wine of God demanded a new wine skin as Jesus put it.

          • Can’t resist saying, and may the Force be with you throughout your investigation 🙂

          • FWIW, Thomas Jefferson also read the Quran. Then sent the Navy and Marines to war against the Barbary Pirates in the early 19th century over demands of tribute. Seems he found some cultural difficulties as well.

          • Yeah. He also owned slaves and forced them to have sex with him. You know, “for what it’s worth.”

          • Really, Eric? “Exhausted is putting it mildly”? How can you say that and not be ashamed? You are presenting yourself as if you’re being meek and reasonable, but instead you’re engaged in an attempt at a rigged, snide competition. You are acting as if you’re being objective and rational, while simultaneously setting up a scenario that is neither. You say: “I am not interested in arguing what followers may or may not do, but at
            the core, does the teaching of these two religious leaders produce peace
            if their teachings are followed?” Which sets up a “my God is better than your God” competition. And it’s an abstract, almost impossible to prove proposition. It’s mental masturbation. Because you qualified it with “I am not interested in what followers may or may not do.” So you’ve set up a scenario where the real world application doesn’t matter. It’s all about the theoretical application. Why? You’re either trying to set up an argument that Islam is inherently “more violent” than Christianity, or you’re engaging in a thought experiment that requires tons of hours of research and reading just so we can talk about hypotheticals.

          • Aaron your prosecutor role gets old. It seems you spend a lot of energy always seeking to gather evidence to convict me in your public court. I’m not interested in engaging you when all you seek to do is belittle and play the contrarian and adversary. There’s a big difference between debating towards truth for the good of all and just fighting to be superior. It’s easy to see the difference when one assumes the judge of other people’s motives. You have no clue or right to take that role.

          • What on earth are you talking about? What in Aaron’s comment was the least bit prosecutorial or adversarial?

          • I’ll start by saying I’m sorry my last comment was as hostile as it was. I was (obviously) angry when I wrote it. I’m actually still pretty angry, which is why it’s taken me this long to respond.

            I think we can all agree that words matter. The things we say and do can and do have an impact, both directly and immediately as well as socially. It’s what makes hate speech so problematic. And it’s also what makes not all speech equal. Some speech has more impact than others. Someone who uses a racial slur against me as a white person can upset me personally, and it’s definitely not okay, but it doesn’t have the weight of system oppression behind it that the “N word” has (a word so charged we’ve created a way to talk about it without actually saying/writing it). Along with that, people have varying degrees of influence with their words. Obviously, the words of someone like Donald Trump matter a whole lot more than mine or yours, because he’s a huge public figure and millions of people hear his words.

            I say all of that because even the words WE use have an impact. The things we all say have a cumulative effect on our culture, and right now our culture is becoming increasingly hostile to Muslims, and it’s doing so at a pretty terrifying rate. Now, even if things go catastrophically wrong and we end up in a worst case scenario, Muslim Holocaust type of situation, no one is going to jail/punish the people that allowed it to happen. But there are a whole lot more of them than there are actual villains. History doesn’t have a ton of Hitlers, but the ones it does have all used the fears and frustrations of otherwise reasonable people to commit atrocities.

            I know you personally, though not well, and know that you would never condone or encourage any violence against anyone, Muslim or otherwise. I know the work you do, and genuinely respect you for it. But the things you are posting/commenting on are actively feeding into a culture of Islamophobia. And yes, to address the point you made on Admir’s article, it IS a phobia. Yes, the fear is real, but so are spiders, and arachnophobia is still a thing. When the fear is massively disproportionate to the actual threat/risk, it’s a phobia. And the people who are afraid and carrying guns to anti Muslim rallies are FAR more likely to be shot by a Christian extremist, but that’s not who they’re afraid of. And so when you defend that behavior, when you normalize and rationalize it, when you criticize people for calling it out, etc., etc., you are making it a little bit more okay for people to treat Muslims poorly. I say this because you once posted something on Facebook about asking yourself if your presence is causing harm. And in this case, it is. It might be a drop of water in a lake, but it’s still water.

            So that’s where MY frustration comes from. We have created a culture where Muslims are taking crap from all sides, at a time when they need our support more than ever. Between our reaction to the refugee crisis, our growing hostility directed at Muslims here, and the current rhetoric coming from some major political figures, it’s getting pretty embarrassing to be an American.

          • You think I’m the part of the problem, no surprise there. I think you’ve been mad or angry about pretty much everything I write. I don’t think we can agree.

          • Yep. A 3 line casually dismissive response that doesn’t address a single point I made. That’s about what I expected from you, Eric. Because you are a social bull in a China shop, but none of the damage is to YOU, so you can just shrug it off. You have literally nothing forcing you to confront the damage you’re capable of doing. You have the privilege to just shrug it off. And the thing about privilege is that it conceals itself from those who have it. When someone calls you out about the actual harm you’re doing, you can make snide, sanctimonious comments about “debating towards truth,” as if you have some pure, higher motive. That’s privilege.

            And for the record, I didn’t say I thought you were part of the problem; I demonstrated how you are. I look forward to your dismissive and/or lack of comment.

          • With respect, Aaron, I don’t know you except by your comments in this thread. If I understood more where you are coming from I might be able to imagine myself a bit better in your shoes in order to understand why you are so angry. Participating in this forum is not easy. I regularly feel fear pass through me when drafting a response. It comes with the territory. When fear becomes anger, however, my own practice tells me to step back and ask what it is I’m not seeing. When I do this I immediately work to imagine myself in the other’s shoes. Personally, I find Eric’s pursuit worthy of encouragement. Attempting to comprehend the source material (as it is available) of another religion is honorable. When I did this with Buddhism I became Buddhist Christian.

          • Aaron, there’s no reason I have to respond to you. You are often rude and mean and that is why I don’t engage you. I represent something to you that you feel demands a fight, all the time. You know we won’t agree but you want to prove you are right and I’m wrong. In your mind you’ve done that, so why continue hounding me? Ive asked you many times on my posts to just stop. I’m asking again. Please stop if you can’t engage the issues without attempting to go personal. Your anger just shuts down the fruitfulness of this endeavor.

          • That’s a really interesting point, Eric, and it’s one that caused me to look back on both this thread and to reflect on our prior engagements. What I found is somewhat disheartening, because I have regularly found the opposite of what you’re saying to be true. I often make points that you either dismiss or ignore, or I watch you criticize someone for something and then immediately engage someone else in the same manner, and when I eventually get frustrated enough (which I’m certainly not blaming on you; my anger is absolutely on me) and engage you in a hostile way, THAT is when I actually get the most engagement out of you, typically in the form of a rebuke. So really you’re not refusing to engage because I’m being rude; you’re waiting until I say something that is either rude or can be taken that way, and you then have the moral high ground.

            Riff, where I’m coming from is a long history of this with Eric, which I see as a pretty frustrating form of intellectual dishonesty. Double standards and hypocrisy of 2 of my biggest pet peeves (and I own that, as I said above; my frustrations are definitely my issue), and I find Eric to regularly use both while acting as if he’s being reasonable and fair minded. As an extremely recent example, compare his quotes above and explanation about evangelicals and the exclusivity that their understanding demands, followed by a somewhat passive aggressive shot at others here for not using that same “honest evaluation,” followed like a day later by him calling out/questioning Matthew Sewell for the EXACT SAME idea of exclusivity. There’s absolutely nothing intellectually honest about that.

          • You got me Aaron, I’m a hypocrite, dishonest, game player.

          • Hey, if the shoe fits, man. I literally just provided an example of you being a hypocrite. I could provide others (and have, especially on this issue). You regularly hold others (particularly progressives) to a different standard than you hold yourself and other conservatives. And if/when my comments are abrasive, at least they’re up front and honest. You call me out for being rude, and then respond with sarcasm and snark, as if that’s not rude. Your behavior on this site may be a different kind of rude, but it’s no less rude in a different shape.

          • Now that you’ve taken me down and exposed me for the problem I am on this site. Why don’t you contribute and lead the way on solving the problems presented.

          • Eric, Please stop if you can’t engage the issues without attempting to go personal. Your anger just shuts down the fruitfulness of this endeavor.

          • The first step is admitting the problem, Eric.

          • Well Aaron, like I said, participating on this site is not easy. There are guidelines that must be adhered to for sure, but for the most part, each thread is allowed to hold itself together (or fall apart) on its own. From my view, in THIS thread, YOU are the one out of line going to great effort attacking Eric. While I’m not here to defend him, I don’t appreciate your criticisms from “a long history of this with Eric.” I find dialogue on FāVS only succeeds when participants are able to keep it current and on topic. Whether or not I agree or disagree with you on ANY of your many criticisms of Eric IS NOT relevant because it is NOT CURRENT and ON TOPIC. The question of comparative merit of scripture is the topic at hand. Discipline, man, discipline.

          • I can respect that point of view, though I don’t necessarily agree with it. I have a different viewpoint on what constitutes successful dialogue, though as you say, that’s not the topic at hand. If you want to have a conversation about what works and doesn’t, or talk about online interaction, I’d be happy to do so. And my last couple of comments on this thread haven’t been at all attacking; I simply stated my point and used examples from this very thread, so I’d say that qualifies as on topic. Good chat, man.

  2. “Do not supposed I that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34 NIV
    Imagine how this passage would be read by people not familiar with the Bible? It is the same when Christians read the Koran. Any particular religion is not inherently peaceful or violent. There is plenty in both the Bible and the Koran to support either peace or violence. In the end, it all depends upon who you are and how you choose to interpret your religion.

    • Thank you! This is an essential point.

      • No not really. It’s saying that you cannot logically come to a conclusion about anything because someone might “interpret” it differently. That’s a scapegoat not an answer. You can say or do anything with that logic.

        • That’s right! And that’s exactly what people do. You’re starting to get it! Any holy book can be interpreted however you or anybody else wants to. How you read the Bible or any other book says more about you than about that book.

          • That’s been borne out by acts of violence committed in the name of Christianity. Jesus was the prince of peace!

  3. I attempt to understand the world of ideas, faith and ideology that I engage but always with the biblical boundaries laid down by the apostles.

    There are many warnings as these that show that truth matters. To evangelicals people’s lives, understanding of God and eternal lives are at stake in these issues.

    Galatians‬ ‭1:8-9‬ ‭
    “Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.”

    2 John‬ ‭1:7-11‬ ‭
    “I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward. Anyone who wanders away from this teaching has no relationship with God. But anyone who remains in the teaching of Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement. Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work.”
    ‭‭
    Colossians‬ ‭2:18-19‬ ‭
    “Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud, and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For he holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it.”

    ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭11:4, 14-15‬
    “You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed…But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.”

    ‭Revelation‬ ‭22:18-19‬ ‭
    “And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.”

    • Quick to post, are you.
      What’s your point?

      • My point is that these types of scriptures are the fences that evangelicals must navigate to engage the challenging world of faith & ideologies. When seeking to understand one another it’s good to understand the gulf one works to cross in order to engage. I’m upfront about my tradition and the exclusivity it demands. I don’t apologize for it or always defend it but I try my best to represent it even as I work to challenge and understand it in the context of other voices here. I’m not sure I see the same attitude of honest evaluation.

        These verses shock people when they read them in this world of inclusiveness. I get that but ignoring them is a failure to understand the evangelical world.

        I get that I represent this branch of the Christian tree and as a result I’m a lightening rod for many. I try my best to be humble in presenting the other sides of somethings or at least offer up the contrast.

        • Wow. Thanks for the added context. These words are deserving of much meditation/contemplation.

        • Eric, I’ve given some thought. While I tend to agree those who engage you here don’t invest as heavily imagining themselves in your shoes as you theirs, possible reasons for this would be a question for a different thread.

          I see you as one who places himself in the fire NOT as these scriptures demand, but rather as Jesus’ specific teachings require.

          Consider this from the Internet: Evangelicalism, Evangelical Christianity, or Evangelical Protestantism is a worldwide, transdenominational movement within Protestant Christianity maintaining that the essence of the gospel consists in the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ’s atonement.

          According to the above statement/definition, I AM an Evangelical Christian. (Obviously, I can’t find an evangelical church that applies MY strict boundaries.) To me, referencing scriptures such as you typed is no different than Aaron focusing on attacking you. These admonishments distract from the challenge at hand of adhering to Christ’s message. I adhere to Christ out of EVIDENCE, not irrational fear of punishment. Are you saying to be Evangelical
          Christian means adhering to Christ out of fear of punishment? Perhaps this is the problem?

          The existence of evangelicalism is founded upon MANMADE CHOICES to leave behind boundaries of Christianity’s previous establishments.

          Most interesting to realize in this contemplation is that the freedoms the United States of America bestows (which I find align with Christ’s teachings) can be the keys that unlock dogmatic barriers to understanding His Message.

          Americans CHOOSE their practice of religion because such choice is protected as inalienable right. Accepting this protection, AMERICANS who publicly practice any religion INHERENTLY acknowledge the right as primary to chosen practice. Sound logic says to be American is to FIRST CHOOSE TO DECIDE all innate FREEDOM/RESPONSIBILITY OF CHOICE predicates all doctrine.

          They say freedom comes at a price. Have we paid our debt?
          If brave hearts and minds had not rejected irrational fears of such verses, we would not, could not be the beacon we are in the world.

          The problem: Resulting from such primary conviction (and beholden to immeasurable sacrifice of our nation’s forefathers and multiple generations of American heroes) Christianity now claims around 33,000 denominations. This is not logical.

          Because of squabbling over dictate—of our near constant misplacement of priority—we are destroying ourselves. More so, we now have no one to blame… no dictator… no king or queen… only ourselves…

          While I’ve not read my translation of the Koran, I often see how it can be more approachable than the Christianity WE HAVE MADE. And we wonder why Islam is the fastest growing religion?

          • My point was trying to be clear about the exclusivity claims that often challenge understanding. Evangelicals are often taught to mistrust and avoid ecumenical circles or circles that are antagonistic to particularly the bible.

            Islam is just as exclusive and has an eternal punishment belief as well.

            All religions don’t claim they are the same, that’s a view coming from the outside. It’s not insider language in conservative circles.

            I’ve attempted to be upfront about how I think and feel in my dialogue here. I wrestle and that involves pushing on others and at times taping out too. I’m not a straight ideologically committed person who only trumpets one view. I’m a mix of tensions. To some that’s hypocritical but to me it’s just being real to who I am or at least real to the person I’m trying to be.

            In the end, I’m not quite sure what is expected of me in this thread. Ive tried to dialogue and debate the issues and positions presented and it’s become a odd defense of myself and I think that is a distraction from the issues, so I’m bowing out.

          • Fair enough.

    • Here’s a couple more:
      Mathew 5:44
      “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
      Matthew 12:39
      “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
      Of course, here we need to properly explain the words of Jesus. If we delve into the Greek, Jesus obviously didn’t mean liberals, democrats, abortionists, Muslims, immigrants, the poor, anybody who disagrees with conservatives on these issues…

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