On June 10, 2017, in 22 major cities in America (Yes, you, Houston! Seattle! St. Paul! Kansas City! Raleigh! Orlando! etc.) a group called ACT! for America is planning anti-Muslim “March Against Sharia” protests. This conservative group expresses their prejudice against Muslims with the typical fear-mongering outlandish claims about an Islamic conspiracy to take over America; that “tens of thousands of Islamic militants now reside in America operating in sleeper cells, attending our colleges and universities, even infiltrating our government” and asserting that radicalized Muslims “have infiltrated us at the CIA, at the FBI, at the Pentagon, at the State Department.”
The website for one Florida branch of ACT! for America even makes this highly offensive claim: “It is not ‘fanatical’, ‘radical’, or ‘extreme’ Islam that we are fighting, but normal, orthodox, canonical, typical, accepted, traditional Islam.” This is pure prejudicial hate-speech against all the upstanding Muslim-American citizens around us who ACT! wants to deny their freedom of religion.
This group’s solution is to ban ALL Muslims from entering America, and to pass Anti-Sharia laws in every state before it’s too late and America falls to Global Islamization.
[Interestingly, my award-winning book A VIOLENT LIGHT introduces a similar group with a similar name (“Act Now to Save America”) though I hadn’t known at the time that ACT! for America existed.]
What can we do to show our support for our Muslim neighbors? Here are some ideas from my contact at the group Shoulder to Shoulder:
- Rather than planning counter-protests or vigils or anything like that (which could add fuel to ACT’s desire to gain media attention), it might be more fruitful to use the fact that it’s Ramadan to encourage interfaith Iftars [fast-breaking meals] on the nights of June 9 and 10 in particular, and we could help pitch these to local and national media as the “counter-protests”, in that they are ignoring the fearmongering that ACT is doing and instead, getting together with neighbors to celebrate a beautiful time for the Muslim religious calendar. Of course, just encouraging interfaith partners to connect with their Muslim contacts in these cities to find out what they are doing/thinking is the first step.
- Muslim Advocates is working on a letter that could be sent to mayors, police chiefs, etc., to alert them of the anti-Muslim marches and to make sure they understand that these are hate groups leading them. We could encourage faith leaders at local levels to be part of the group that sends/delivers those letters, showing community leaders that a broad segment of their constituents (not just Muslims!) are concerned about this.
- ReThink Media is willing to help us with drafting and pitching op-eds from local clergy in some select cities. I will do some outreach to clergy on our rapid response list, but if you have people you’d like to recommend to me in any of the cities displayed on this map (where protests are planned), please let me know. We’d want the op-eds to run the weekend of the protests, not before, so that we don’t give them extra publicity.
Is your city on the map? If so, and if you’re interested in doing something in your city, perhaps Shoulder to Shoulder or I can link you with others who are also committed to religious freedom and loving your neighbor.
Is your city not on the map? Then I recommend you begin now to make friends with the Muslims in your school, workplace, neighborhood, park, and city. Don’t let the nightly news convince you that all Muslims are out to kill you. They’re not. Get to know a Muslim and find out the truth for yourself.
If you are a Christian and with the goal of self-preservation want to close your nation, your city and your heart to Muslims, I suggest that your fear is too great and your God is too small. Ask God to enlarge the capacity of your heart to love–whether you consider Muslims your neighbors or your enemies–Jesus offers no second option for those who follow him.
And please pass this on to other groups or churches in your city. Letting our Muslim neighbors know they’re cared for as an important part of our multi-cultural America is the best way to keep them from being radicalized by angry, disenfranchised extremists.