These are interesting days politically in both Canada and the US. We of course have just witnessed another Federal Election in Canada which resulted in a change-over of power. South of the border we are seeing daily dramatic developments as the US prepares for another Presidential Election next year.
During this time, I have become extremely concerned with one particular development both north and south of the border. It seems the anti-Muslim sentiment in North America is increasingly being used and exploited as a political advantage. And even more alarmingly, such views are receiving support from certain parts of the Christian community.
Here in Canada, we saw the whole Niqab debate being “framed” with language that suggests supporting the Niqab ban is consistent with “Christian” or “Canadian” values: We heard it is a issue of “security” for people to “hide their identity” during citizenship ceremonies. The truth that is that the women’s identity is never an issue because they would lift their veil for the citizenship judge to confirm their identity, and only wear the Niqab during the public ceremony (there were only 2 cases out of 680,000 citizenship ceremonies where this became an issue for the applicant). We heard that Canada is supposed to be an “open and transparent” society and the wearing of Niqab violates that as an attempt to hide the person’s identity. The fact is that Muslim women wear the Niqab as an EXPRESSION of their religious and cultural identity, rather than an attempt to hide who they are.
But that is how hate starts: You use language of “us” and “them”, and create a narrative that suggests “us” is better than “them”, and “they” are a threat to “us”. On the Niqab debate, We say things like “We” value openness and transparency (which suggests “they” don’t). We say “We” do not oppress women (again, suggesting that “they” do). While hate and fear has often proven to be useful political tools, what is alarming to me is to see Christians lining up under those banners.
The growth of the Islam is NOT a threat to the church. The real danger the church faces is being lured and sucked into the prevailing anti-Islamic sentiment, to become part of the narrative of hate. History in fact provides a clear warning: During the time of Nazi Germany the vast majority of the German population was Christian. With the rise of Nazism and its clearly anti-Jewish ideology, the church in Germany at the time was lured and persuaded into supporting the Nazi platform as affirming to “Christian values.”
Is it too far fetched to suggest history is threatening to repeat itself here in North America?