Religious persecution is alive and well in America. But the victims are not Christians.
There is no liberal “war on religion” or “war on Christmas.” A lame, half-hearted boycott of a chicken restaurant does not equal religious persecution. Disagreements about gay marriage, no matter how contentious, do not equal religious persecution. Banning a nativity scene from public property, or not allowing a prayer at a public school graduation…not persecution. Just examples of the give-and-take of public policy in a free society which is continuously testing the boundaries between church and state, and the boundaries of the free expression of religion in American life.
Fact is, Protestant Christianity is the Big Dog in American religion, just as Catholicism is the Big Dog throughout Latin America, and the Anglican church is in England. All of them “Christian” religions. Christianity enjoys a host of freedoms and privileges, and every single president has claimed to be a Christian (Romney would end that streak). Christianity is not persecuted. Christianity is on top, with tons of influence.
If you want to claim religious persecution, become a Muslim or a Sikh. That massacre in Wisconsin at a Sikh temple, true, was the work of one madman. That will happen. But the public record is filled with scores of incidents in which members of non-Christian religions–nearly always Muslims, or persons mistaken for being Muslim–are targeted.
During the past year, arsonists have struck Islamic centers in Arlington, Texas, Corvallis, Ore., Stockton, Calif., Houston, Texas, Worcester, Mass., and Wichita, Kansas. There have been scores of other acts of vandalism and other incidents at Islamic temples. This goes way beyond a few big-city mayors trying to score a few fleeting political points by saying they’ll oppose permits for new Chick-Fil-A franchises.
It’s not safe to be a Muslim. Consider these incidents, all of which happened within the last three years.
- New York: A 56-year old woman was attacked while walking on a city street by two people who ripped off her religious attire and called her a “f-ing terrorist.”
- Brooklyn, NY: a Turkish man and his wife were attacked by a neighbor screaming “F-ing Arabs! F-ing terrorists.”
- Wisconsin: a man of Moroccan heritage was hospitalized with head injuries while walking with a friend downtown. The friend was punched, knocked to the ground, and kicked. The attacker allegedly said “f___ Osama Bin Laden” during the attack.
- Illinois: a faculty member was stabbed by a man seeking to “save his country” because he thought the man was Middle Eastern.
- A Sikh man was stabbed at the airport in Fresno, Calif. Sikhs, because of their long beards and turbans, are often mistaken for Muslims.
- San Jose, Calif.: A Hindu man was assaulted by a group of men who called him a “terrorist.”
- St. Cloud, Minn.: Graphic, sexually explicit anti-Muslim cartons were posted on utility poles.
- Staten Island: A 14-year-old was beaten by a classmate who said he hated Arabs.
- New York: A man threatened to kill a Muslim mother and daughter, shouted racial and religious slurs, and spat on their car.
- Calif: A taxi driver was repeatedly hit in the back of the head by passengers calling him “Taliban” and “terrorist.”
- Florida: a Marine reservist hit a Greek Orthodox priest with a a tire iron and chased him for three blocks. He later claimed than an “Arab man” was trying to rob him, and described the priest as a terrorist.
- An Idaho Muslim had swastikas and slurs painted on the side of his truck.
- Cedar Rapids, Iowa: an 18-year-old Iraqi refugee and his mother were assaulted after a softball game. The boy’s jaw was broken by a member of the other team, who called him raghead, terrorist, and camel jockey. The same person assaulted the mother when she tried to defend her son.
- In July 2011, a Pakistani Muslim family that had lived in the US for 15 years had the word “Terrorist” spray-pointed onto their home.
- Murfreesboro, Tenn: a mother and son were the targets of anti-Musim and racial slurs by a knife-weilding driver.
- A man at an “Ask a Muslim” information booth outside a mosque was punched in the face by two men, who told police they wanted to kick out all the “ragheads.”
- Reno, Nev: Scrawled on a wall–”Don’t burn the Koran. Why? Just burn Muslims.”
- Manhattan: A passenger asked a cab driver, “Are you a Muslim?” When the driver said he was, the passenger slashed him with a knife on the throat, arm, and face.
- Missouri: a worker at an Islamic center was threatened by a man carring a knife and handgun, who said the center was for people “trying to take over the United States.”
- A Muslim man of South Asian descent had an aerosol cleaner sprayed into his yes by a coworker who, after failing to convert him to Christianity, began calling him “terrorist” and “Bin Laden.” The Muslim man was later fired from his job.
- Cyprus, Calif: “US Military is going to kill you all” was scrawled on the side of a mosque.
- Florida: a mosque was sprayed with bullets that left broken windows and holes in the dome. The mosque’s sign was previously defaced with a swastika and profanity.
- South Carolina: “Death to Muslims” was scratched into the sidewalk outside a mosque.
- Oregon: “Allah is a pig” was written on the mailbox of a mosque.
- Los Angeles: a burned Quran was found at the back entrance of a mosque. Burned Qurans were also found outside mosques in Tennessee, Michigan, and San Francisco after that crazy Florida pastor proposed burning Qurans.
- Jacksonville, Fla.: a bomb exploded late at night outside a mosque.
- South Carolina: vandals used bacon to write “pig” and “chump” on a mosque walkway.
- Seattle: Two Muslim women of Somali heritage were punched and kicked at a gas station by a woman who threw out allegations of “terrorist” and “suicide bomber.”
- Ohio: A mosque’s surveillance camera caught a man pulling his SUV behind the car of a Muslim woman, who was wearing a veil in which only the eyes are visible. He walked to her car and pepper-sprayed her through the open window, while yelling racial and religious slurs.
- Dearborn, Mich: a man was arrested carrying large amounts of explosives. He was planning to attack one of the nation’s largest mosques.
How would you like to live in fear of being attacked–in your home, on the street, anywhere–simply because of your religious beliefs? As a Christian, I face absolutely no such fears. Never have. I’ve been in situations where I felt in danger because of my race, but never because of my religion. But other persons–fellow Americans, protected by the same “freedom of religion” clause–do live in fear simply because of their religion. Fear for themselves, fear for their children. When they go out in public, it’s on their minds. Now THAT is religious persecution.
People like Pamela Geller make a living writing and speaking against Muslims and spreading hate. Geller has posted images on her blog depicting Muhammed as a pig. She frequently appears on FoxNews, a huge platform from which to spread her Islamophobia. Other conservative commentators keep the anti-Muslim hysteria alive, giving fuel to the whackos out there who put the hate speech into action. These commentators will never condone violence against Muslims, but they are entirely complicit it enabling it among their devoted listeners.
To our credit as a nation, attacks on Muslims and mosques are prosecuted by the police, and the FBI also frequently gets involved, since these are hate crimes. As a society, we do not tolerate hate crimes. Unfortunately, we give hate-speakers way too much of a voice. I find it shameful, unAmerican, and certainly unChristian. And I really wish my fellow citizens would be as upset about it as I am.