There’s a self-professed Christian blogger at Huffington Post who thinks you are an Islamophobe if you don’t agree that it’s perfectly compatible with Christianity to see Mohammed as a prophet.
Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch calls Craig Considine out for the following passage, in Considine’s post “Why a Christian can view Muhammad as a Prophet” (emphasis added):
Basically, me admiring Prophet Muhammad isn’t “enough” for Muslims; in their eyes, I must take a few concrete steps towards Islam to be fully recognized as a “true believer.” Otherwise, I’m just a weirdo Christian who respects Muhammad, but doesn’t recognize him as a “the man.” Christians, on the other hand, have called me “pseudo Catholic” and “infidel” for my positive writings about Muhammad. For these Islamophobes, I’m quite simply a heretic. There’s no way around it.
Spencer parses this precisely:
Note Considine’s usage of the smear term “Islamophobe.” An “Islamophobe” is supposedly someone who has an irrational hatred of Islam — and for what did his Christian interlocutors earn this label? They called him a “pseudo-Catholic” and “infidel” for his “positive writings about Muhammad.” Considering Islam’s rejection of the divinity, crucifixion, resurrection and salvific mission of Christ, it’s perfectly reasonable for these Christians to have considered Considine to have departed from the faith by writing positively about Muhammad. But to Considine, it only means that they hate Islam.
Spencer goes on to discuss other aspects of Considine’s basically irrational, impressionistic mish-mash of sentiment, and his critical essay is worth the full read.
But I want to stay for the moment on the seemingly stray reference to Islamophobia, because it’s not merely something random that doesn’t matter.
We can expect to see it – or rather hear it – as a drumbeat arising against Christendom. Much of the West’s ruling structure has already bought off on the dynamic of “Islamophobia,” by which all objections to the gradual enforcement of new, “Islamic” social norms are silenced. There can be no principled objections to these norms, which must be allowed to bind non-Muslims. There can only be Islamophobia at work: by definition, an unacceptable hatred, which can’t be the basis for asserting either liberty from “Islamic” norms, or the enforcement of different norms.
Until now, in the United States, the “Islamophobia” dynamic has encroached mainly on the realm of secular activities. We’ve assumed that our constitutional commitment to freedom of religion means that there won’t be any encroachment on the beliefs of other faiths. The faiths themselves may compromise, of course. But the Islamophobia dynamic is enforced on the public through the decisions of government functionaries – and surely, in their hands, that “freedom of religion” commitment still protects us.
There is no way – right? – that our public institutions would use the Islamophobia dynamic to literally tell Christians they don’t get to say Jesus finished the saving work of God for our age of men. Surely there can never be a time when Christians will be pressured to affirm Mohammed as a prophet of God.
But that’s a dangerous level of complacency. For one thing, the proposition that it’s Islamophobic to not accept Mohammed has now been floated in the leftosphere.
To the extent that “Islamophobia” has any meaning, it certainly doesn’t mean that; but there’s a sizable contingent of Americans and other Westerners today who can hear the proposition without recognizing it as an offense to logic. Indeed, for many of these people, it’s incumbent on religions to find a way to stop disagreeing with each other, so as to “end conflict.”
That insistence in itself is irrational; we don’t all have to agree on everything in order to avoid conflict. We have to exercise tolerance and control ourselves to avoid conflict.
But this incontrovertible point seems less and less obvious to many people today. Such people cannot be relied on to uphold the actual, dear-bought principles of Western liberty.
Another reason to be concerned is that the beliefs of Christians are, in fact, under attack by the U.S. government, because of the number of things it now demands control of in our lives. As with the charge of “Islamophobia,” the pretext for overriding Christians’ right to their beliefs is that Christians are engaged in “hatred” when they dispute the requirements of intrusive government.
With government now so big that it collides with people’s religious beliefs, in ways it didn’t before, we are very foolish to think government won’t start taking sides between religions. In effect, that’s what it’s already doing.
So don’t be fooled by the basic silliness of Mr. Considine’s thesis. Robert Spencer is right that Considine is really just fashioning his own religion, “placing himself as the judge and arbiter of the validity of what Jesus and Muhammad say.” There’s a temptation to dismiss his off-hand allusion to “Islamophobes” as if it’s merely part of some general, harmless nonsense.
But don’t do that. We’re going to begin hearing more of this “Christian belief EQUALS Islamophobia” narrative. If the trend of world events is an indication, we’re going to hear it a lot more, and soon. Craig Considine’s garbled essay is an initial volley, one little trial balloon in what is likely to become a barrage.
Christians are the people who affirm Jesus as savior. But they are only some of the people who decline to affirm Mohammed as a prophet, or the prophet of God who brought a final revelation from Him. Once it becomes “hatred” to not enthusiastically endorse a particular belief – whatever the reason – the stain of Islamophobia will cover everyone who isn’t affirmatively Muslim. The whole defining proposition of the West – that we can live together without agreeing on everything – will cease ruling our expectations. Intellectual totalitarianism will reign instead.
The Christian symbol of the fish represents the acronym ichthys (ἰχθύς), Greek for fish, whose letters stand for “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” The acronym dates to the earliest days of Christianity, and it remains the shorthand statement for Christians of who Jesus is. Islam does not concur in any part of it: that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah, or anointed one of God); that he is the Son of God; or that he is the savior of mankind whose sacrifice has obviated all others.
And this is not a problem. It doesn’t require correction through public policy. Calling it “hatred” to have Christian beliefs is the problem. Calling it “hatred” to not agree with Islamic beliefs is the problem.
From a “secular” attack vector, government in the West is already well down the path of criminalizing Christian beliefs. If the Islamophobia dynamic is allowed to join the effort, turning Christians into hate criminals merely for holding their beliefs, there will be no limit to how quickly and absolutely freedom of thought and conscience will be lost for everyone on earth.