In the wake of 9/11, President George W. Bush waxed about the importance of assuring Muslims in the U.S. that he didn’t group all of Islam in with the actions of the terrorists who flew planes into the World Trade Center.
“Islam, as practiced by the vast majority of people, is a peaceful religion, a religion that respects others,” said Bush in November of 2002. “Ours is a country based upon tolerance and we welcome people of all faiths in America.” Historians might have a few words about whether or not the Bush legacy lives up to such words but one thing is sure, the political rhetoric has definitely changed in the eighteen years since 9/11.
Take Donald McKay, pastor of Bloomfield Hills Baptist Church in Michigan. His church had been planning a 2-day event titled “9/11 Forgotten? Is Michigan Surrendering to Islam?” telling Fox 2 that “Islam is a growing threat in the United States of America.”
“We believe that Muslims, committed Muslims, that are familiar with their faith are committed really to the overthrow of the United States and world domination,” he continued, describing “Islamophobe” as a “badge” he wore “proudly.”
The Detroit Free Press reports that he has canceled the event amidst backlash.
The event was roundly condemned by state and congressional leaders, like State Reps. Abdullah Hammoud and Mari Manoogian, who wrote, “With the rise of mass shootings by white domestic terrorists targeting those they deem ‘other’ we are deeply disturbed that a place of worship would host an event that continues to fan the flames of hate and intolerance.”
“There is nothing Christian about what the church is doing, only the human instinct to be fearful,” Matthew Kaemingk, an assistant professor of Christian ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary, told the Washington Post.
“What is happening to this church is that they are falling into sin, and they’re being blinded by sin …They are being ruled by the politics of fear and not the politics of Jesus.”
And that fear isn’t particularly well-founded. As religion professor Samuel Perry points out, Pew estimates that the entire Muslim population of the United States might reach 2.1 percent by 2050.