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June 17, 2009

Religion in America: The News Isn’t All That Bad

Naysayers are predicting the end of Christianity in America, and since their pessimism is repeated incessantly, many people have come to believe it. Is their prediction true? World magazine editor Marvin Olasky says the predictions don't match reality. Find out why.

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Comments

Benjamin Ady

I found the following comment from the linked article rather gratuitously negative, one-sided, and unnecessary. It unfortunately changes the tone of an otherwise reasonable article in such a way that I am no longer inclined to listen to the author as a reasonable or representative voice:

"Meanwhile, Christianity's main religious opponents, Islam and Hinduism, can only hold onto their flocks by banning or persecuting missionaries and attempting to restrict discussion. They fear open debate ..."

Dan Gill

Benjamin, is the statement untrue?

Fred

@Benjamin Ady

Actually, the above comment is sadly true.

If a Christian leaves the faith, then his family still loves, talks with, and prays for him.

If a Muslim leaves his faith, he faces being ostracized or murdered.

The following article about Christianity in the Muslim world highlights the stark difference:

http://onenewsnow.com/Missions/Default.aspx?id=565002

Benjamin Ady

"If a Christian leaves the faith, then his family still loves, talks with, and prays for him.

If a Muslim leaves his faith, he faces being ostracized or murdered"

It seems to me that this is an excellent example of something psychologists call "homogenizing the outgroup". It's all too easy to characterize our group--the ingroup--by the best of us--those in our group whom act and speak in the way we admire or think is excellent, and to characterize the "other"--the outgroup--by the worst of them--those who act in the way we despise or think is horrible.

What if instead we characterized Muslims by the best of Muslims--those who act in the best, most loving, most gracious manner? Just as we would want people to see Christianity in terms of, and in light of, those Christians who live and speak in the best, most gracious, most loving manner?

Jason Taylor

As far as "they fear open debate" goes with Hindus I'm not sure debate as such is possible. The premises seem so different as to evoke a mutual "huh?"
At the very least it is far more difficult then with Moslems, let alone Jews.

Moreover, are we sure what Hinduism is exactly? Does it have a system of doctrines that we can be fairly sure all Hindus believe? Or does it just mean "religious person from India who is not a Buddhist, a Moslem, a Jain, or a Parsee?"

Jason Taylor

"What if instead we characterized Muslims by the best of Muslims--those who act in the best, most loving, most gracious manner?"

Ugh Benjamin. You make Muslims sound so-Anglican.

What if instead we characterized Muslims by the best of Muslims who starve themselves rather then let a stranger go hungry, give lavish feasts, respect an honorable enemy, never break their word, always consider shareing water the equivalent of their pledged word, play chess splendidly, are fantastic poets and never, never lose their way in the desert?

Jason Taylor

"Or does it just mean "religious person from India who is not a Buddhist, a Moslem, a Jain, or a Parsee?""

Forgot Sikhs.

Benjamin Ady

Jason,

Ok. that's lovely. Thank you for singing the praises of Muslims on the Point. You rock.

Jason Taylor

Of course that is because romanticized Bedouin warrior princes like Sharif Ali are more picturesque then Muslimes who act in "the best, most loving, and most gracious manner".

As it happens Sharif Ali is also more picturesque then Islamiscists.

Fred

A popular video called Fitna is making its way around the net.

http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=31240495

So, what's your reaction to the video's commentary on Islam.

jason taylor

A mite gauche like most propaganda productions.

But I do not have such lack of confidence that I need to be convinced that my country has a right to defend itself. Nor do I have such ignorance as to associate Islam with desiring to buy the world a coke and keep it company. Are you perhaps trying to shock me into being less chivalrous?

jason taylor

Sorry Fred, that came out as a bit short with you.

Fred

@Jason Taylor

No problem.

I posted the video as a reminder that showing love to other people should not make us blind to those wishing us harm. The Netherlands taking "tolerance" to a dangerous extreme is resulting in the country slowly transforming into an oppressive theocracy (e.g., Iran).

jason taylor


Oh well I never bought into the liberal type of tolerance. It is unaesthetic for one thing. For another it seems patronizing-it gives me the impression of telling people they are not even important enough to be wrong.

I like the Kipling form of tolerance better:

But there is neither east nor west, nor border nor breed nor birth.
When two strong men come face to face though they come from the ends of the earth.

TimC

Benjamin, I fear that you falling prey to something called "romanticizing the outgroup." When this happens, we overestimate the degree to which our virtues are honored among those who are different from us. Instead of assessing the behavior of the group as a whole and in its particulars, we pick those who look the most like what we think we would want to be like and assume that everyone in the outgroup is, or at least desires to be, like that. This often, though not always, goes hand in hand with "colonializing" or "assuming the white man's burden."

So, how 'bout: if we're going to stereotype, let's do it in a way which represents the largest swath of the group being stereotyped. In which case, I think Fred's statement stands pretty well.

All of which I say as one who counts several faithful Muslims as some of his closest friends.

jason taylor

The problem with that, Tim is that, disdain for the outgroup is just as often blamed for imperialism. As is "dehumanizing" which would be, not having any emotion whatsoever. As when ever two cultures come into contact they will have opinions of each other any there must always be some opinion associated with imperialism. Therefore the hypothesis is unfalsifiable.

Rachel Coleman

Let's not forget that only a couple months ago, Hindu rioters were killing Christians in south India.

The BJP did not make life pleasant for believers in that country -- and it's no terrorist group per se, just a hardline Hindu political party.

Didn't we have some discussion here on the Point about the Christian converts forced to worship idols, drink cow dung and recant -- or be killed?

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