Eboo Patel has a thought provoking piece about how Evangelicals could grow to love Muslims. He compares current American evangelical attitudes towards Muslims with the attitudes evangelicals had towards Catholics more than 50 years ago before JFK was elected president. These attitudes are remarkably similar. He notes:
It is easy to draw a straight line between the evangelical anti-Catholic prejudice of previous generations and the Islamophobia of today, essentially saying that “evangelicals have to hate someone.”
What a tragedy that those who believe in the One who so loved the world that he gave his only Son (Gospel according to John 3:16) and follow the One who, in love, laid down his life for the sake of others (John 10:11) would be seen by some as needing someone to hate. I can understand why my evangelical friends would protest this perception. I can also see why my Muslim (and non-Muslim) friends would feel this way.
Fortunately, Patel doesn’t simply leave it at that. He believes and hopes for better things. The change in many evangelicals regarding Catholics happened when they got to know Catholics. Perhaps this same change can happen as evangelicals get to know Muslims. I hope so. I hope that evangelicals won’t be thought of as the people who hate Muslims (or any other group), but as the group who embody Jesus’ love for Muslims.
Patel closes his article with this:
Maybe in 50 years, there will be no surprise when the loudest cheerleaders for Muslim presidential candidates and Supreme Court justices are evangelical Christians.
You’ll have to read the whole thing to see how he got there.
Love Your Neighbor