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Islam in Two Americas

Think Christianly: Islam in Two Americas

Monday, August 16, 2010

Islam in Two Americas

Drew Douthat has written a helpful op-ed for the New York Times on the social / cultural responses surrounding Islam in America. Questions of rights and freedoms abound. But I want to add one more layer to his discussion. That of worldview. Judeo-Christian principles are the bedrock upon which freedom of religion and basic human rights reside and the framers of the Constitution were well aware of this. These "American Ideals" are most assuredly not the fruit of an Islamic worldview (a quick glance at history and around the world where Islam is the dominant religion make that very clear). So yes there are politics and cultural issues. But the more fundamental discussion that needs to be had is a worldview discussion--Is orthodox Islam (i.e., not the secularized / politically correct / privatized version) compatible with American Democracy?

"There’s an America where it doesn’t matter what language you speak, what god you worship, or how deep your New World roots run. An America where allegiance to the Constitution trumps ethnic differences, language barriers and religious divides. An America where the newest arrival to our shores is no less American than the ever-so-great granddaughter of the Pilgrims.

But there’s another America as well, one that understands itself as a distinctive culture, rather than just a set of political propositions. This America speaks English, not Spanish or Chinese or Arabic. It looks back to a particular religious heritage: Protestantism originally, and then a Judeo-Christian consensus that accommodated Jews and Catholics as well. It draws its social norms from the mores of the Anglo-Saxon diaspora — and it expects new arrivals to assimilate themselves to these norms, and quickly. These two understandings of America, one constitutional and one cultural, have been in tension throughout our history. And they’re in tension again this summer, in the controversy over the Islamic mosque and cultural center scheduled to go up two blocks from ground zero." (more)

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