Hate is harder to muster for people just like us. I mean, if they live like us and look like us, what grounds do we have to distrust and fear them? This appears to be one of the premises behind the TLC show “All-American Muslim.” Many people know Muslims without knowing it and fear them without being aware of whom they fear. With this insidious kind of fear and hatred, religion must be involved.
Over the weekend, CNN online ran an article noting how Lowe’s is pulling advertising from the program. It seems that conservative Christian outcry is rising like the children of Israel in Egypt; the Muslims aren’t shown as bad guys—they’re like your next-door neighbor! Fear of takeovers has long been on the Neo-conservative agenda. If Romney is elected we will by overrun by Mormons. If we sleep, we’ll awake to Muslim neighbors. And we certainly can’t expect to all get along. If it weren’t for the media, we would probably never even know they held a different religion.
I’ve lived lots of places. With the exception of Grove City College and Nashotah House, I never once was aware of the religion (if any) of my neighbors. If they are civil and respect my right to believe what I will, they are entitled to the same. Religious supersessionism and maybe a pinch of jealousy play into this attitude of keeping others a minority. Is it because Muslims and Mormons are more effective at winning converts? The modern evangelicals have been relying on political bullying to get their way. Why not learn to appreciate your neighbor’s religion instead?
Religious freedom is a two-edged sword. Many of those who are worried now were quite happy when they were in the clear majority. When the lines get blurry the trigger finger gets itchy. Come on, Lowe’s! Educating ourselves about other religions is the best home-building project out there.