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Research Report: Position of Religious Institutions towards Islam and the Muslims

Authored by Amir Butler, and commissioned and published by Sheikh
Salman al-'Awdah, the report examines in detail the position of
Christian institutions in the United States towards Islam and the
Muslims following September 11.
POSITION OF RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS TOWARDS ISLAM AND THE MUSLIMS

A Post-September 11 Review

It is with great pleasure, that we announce the release of the
book, "Position of Religious Institutions Towards Islam and the
Muslims: A Post-September 11 Review".

Authored by Amir Butler, and commissioned and published by Sheikh
Salman al-'Awdah, the report examines in detail the position of
Christian institutions in the United States towards Islam and the
Muslims following September 11.

The complete book can be viewed at:  http://www.islamtoday.net/english/showme_beta.cfm?cat_id=23&sub_cat_id=477


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Executive Summary

This report examines the position of Christian institutions in the
United States following September 11. It sought to determine the
position of American Christianity toward Muslims, Islam, US policy in
the Muslim world, and evangelism to Muslims.

Attitudes towards Islam

The attitude of the Catholic Church and Liberal Protestants, such as
the Methodists, to Islam has been comparatively positive. Most all
have refrained from blaming Islam as a religion for the events of
September 11, and many have called for Islam not to be judged on the
basis of the actions of some Muslims. An interesting trend however has
been that whilst speaking of Islam in a positive light, Catholics and
Liberal Protestants have, at the same time, made very strong calls for
the Muslim world to adopt Western-style religious pluralism. This call
has incorporated calls for the education system in some countries
(meaning perhaps Saudi Arabia) to be revised to remove any negative
reference to other faiths.

The Conservative Protestants however, which includes the Southern
Baptists, have adopted a very antagonistic position towards Islam.
This would be expected given their belief that other religions are, by
their very nature, demon-led. Generally, their leaders such as
Franklin Graham and others have actively attempted to link Islam with
September 11. When George Bush began speaking of Islam in positive
terms, making overtures towards Muslim leaders, and the like, it
attracted the wrath of a large segment of the Conservative Protestant
bloc, who in some cases was moved to activism.

Attitudes towards Muslims

Catholics and Liberal Protestants saw September 11 as an opportunity
improve relations between the two faith communities and this has been
reflected in their actions - which have a heavy emphasis on dialogue
and a "coming together" of the faiths.

Conservative Protestants have generally rejected the entire
"interfaith" movement. They have even charged some of their leaders
with blasphemy for attending the type of interfaith prayer-gatherings
that have become almost a ritual amongst the Liberal protestant
communities. Conservatives were also angered by the amount of
attention given by their Liberal and Catholic counterparts to
anti-Muslim hate-crimes and the like.

Attitudes towards American Policy in the Muslim World

World Catholics seem to have essentially adopted a pacifistic stance
towards the "war on terror". However, the North American division of
the Church took a more militant approach describing the US military
action as a "just war".

Palestine remains an important issue for Catholics and they have made
intensified calls for the peaceful resolution of the issue following
September 11. Similarly, there have been strong calls for Iraq
sanctions to be lifted.

The Catholics have however stopped a long way from directly
criticizing the United States' policies in the Middle East.

Liberal Protestants, particularly the World Council of Churches, have
been open critics of US policy - even alluding to the US's own role as
a state-terrorist or back of state terrorism in Latin America. They
have made very strong calls for a resolution to the Arab-Israeli
conflict, and the National Council of Churches in the United States
participated in a march carrying pro-Palestinian placards.

It was impossible to find a critical word amongst Conservatives other
than criticism that the US is not being "tough enough". There is a
growing group of Christian Zionists who have been strong supporters of
Israel and dogged opponents of the Palestinian cause. Some of them
have even openly called for the US to untie Israel's hands and unleash
a more vicious response on the Palestinians.

A common thread amongst all denominations was the linking of al-Qaeda
to their opponents, in order to perhaps get mainstream legitimacy for
their various causes. Sudan was a hot topic, with the US Catholic
Bishops lobbying the US to include Sudan in their 'war on terror'.

Attitudes towards Evangelism

The Catholics view interfaith dialogue as their primary evangelizing
tool post-September 11. Statements made by Church leaders within their
congregation show clearly that it is viewed as the optimum means of
getting access to Muslims post-September 11.

Conservative Protestants are the most aggressive evangelists. Their
missionary organizations have effectively declared a war for Muslim
souls, and are raising considerable amounts of money for evangelical
work in the Muslim world. Even Muslims in the United States have been
targeted, and they are using what they termed "stealth evangelism",
like offering ESL classes, to get access to Muslims. . Whilst there
was some hesitation after September 11, the Conservatives have
intensified their call with their claim that September 11 shook the
faith of Muslims worldwide.

It was difficult to determine what position the Liberals had adopted
towards evangelism post-September 11. Since they tend not appear as
aggressive missionaries, and seem to have given more priority to
charity and aid work. As such, it is no surprise to see that they have
rapidly begun establishing in Afghanistan, setting up schools, camps
and providing food supplies. One of their primary objectives is to
educate girls in order to "reintegrate them into society".


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Australian Muslim Public Affairs Committee (AMPAC)
PO Box 180
PASCOE VALE SOUTH VIC 3044
Email:  info@muslimaffairs.com.au
Web:  http://www.muslimaffairs.com.au

homepage: homepage: http://www.muslimaffairs.com.au