Response to:

On PJMedia, Mr. Quin Hillyer compares Christianity (in all of its denominations) and Judaism (in all of its denominations) and Islam (with just one broad stroke — as if all of the teachings of Islam are unanimously agreed upon by all of its professed followers) – therein lies part of the difference between Mr. Hillyer and I!

Mr. Hillyer states:

Our religion is better than theirs, and we should not be reticent about saying so.

By “our” religion, I mean all the varied denominations of Judaism and Christianity. By “theirs,” I mean Islam.

And by “better,” I mean that our faith’s values, broadly speaking, are more humane, more humanly decent, and nobler than Islam’s.

If a Muslim says I’m wrong and that his faith is better, I will take no offense, but just agree to disagree, and go about my business. But if I make my claim to his face, he would not only take offense but might well attack me.

Therein lies part of the difference.

On the contrary, this Muslim wouldn’t attack you at all.  I do disagree with the very first assumption you’ve made above which I’ll address shortly as you haven’t made any distinction as to how your religion is “better” than Islam thus far.

Mr. Hillyer continues:

Before further explicating the contention that Judaism and Christianity are “better,” let me root the contention within the sometimes furious discussion of President Donald Trump’s speech in Warsaw, Poland, insisting on the value of “the West” and the need to defend it. The speech was not an explicitly anti-Muslim speech (although it clearly was in parts anti-Islamist), nor should it have been. But there’s nothing wrong at all with defending not just the values of “the West” but also those considered Judeo-Christian.

One of the articles Mr. Hillyer linked to states: The West is not an ideological or economic term either. India is the world’s largest democracy. Japan is among its most economically advanced nations. No one considers them part of the West.

The West is a racial and religious term. To be considered Western, a country must be largely Christian (preferably Protestant or Catholic) and largely white. Where there is ambiguity about a country’s “Westernness,” it’s because there is ambiguity about, or tension between, these two characteristics. Is Latin America Western? Maybe. Most of its people are Christian, but by U.S. standards, they’re not clearly white. Are Albania and Bosnia Western? Maybe. By American standards, their people are white. But they are also mostly Muslim.

The article continued by introducing a notorious Islamophobe Steve Bannon, who’s hatred, ignorance and distaste of Islam and Shari’ah law is abundantly clear from the anti-Muslim propaganda website “Breitbart News“. Bannon ran Breitbart News, a conservative website that under his leadership became a destination for the euphemistically named “alt-right,” whose members when called what they are include conspiracy theorists, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and anti-Semitics. 

Steve Bannon, who along with Stephen Miller has shaped much of Trump’s civilizational thinking, has been explicit about this. In a 2014 speech, he celebrated “the long history of the Judeo-Christian West struggle against Islam” and “our forefathers” who “bequeathed to use the great institution that is the church of the West.”

Among Trump’s biggest applause lines in Warsaw was, “While we will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people, our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism of any kind.” Given that Trump had linked “our values” to America and Poland’s “tradition,” “faith,” “culture,” and “identity,” it wasn’t hard to imagine whom that leaves out.

I agree with Mr. Hillyer in that all Americans, including Muslims, find nothing wrong at all with defending not just the values of “the West” but when he says “also those considered Judeo-Christian” I wonder what he thinks those values are?  White superiority is a value he cherishes? Racism is a value he cherishes? Healthcare for selected few a value he cherishes? Unequal pay for women a value he cherishes? Corruption in politics a value he cherishes? Bigotry, homophobia, Islamophobia, Xenophobia are values he cherishes? What are these values Mr. Hillyer sees Islam opposing that he doesn’t find in his own “Judeo-Christian” scripture?  In my opinion, all three of the monotheistic faith traditions; Judaism, Christianity and Islam have much in common that the entire world can benefit from.  It’s only a small portion that doesn’t want to see this happen and one has to wonder why.

Mr. Hillyer, while not stating “those values” to be defended, expressed one in particular:

Among those values, at least as understood in the modern world, is the value of respecting differences even if we don’t agree with them. Islamists (again, not all Muslims, but the politicized radical ones) insist on trying to force their beliefs on us or make us die while refusing to be converted; Jews and Christians offer our faith to all and try to persuade people in our direction – out of love, without force or conscription.

This is where I take take umbrage with Mr. Hillyer and many others of our Judeo-Christian friends.  When making allegations against “Islam” they often switch terms interchangeably, such as Islamists or Jihadists, often in the same sentence; that’s where you’ll “upset” Muslims and rightfully so.  These terms are not synonymous! Islam, which is a faith practiced by over 1.6 billion people across the globe.  It’s the way a Muslim chooses to live his or her life.  Islamists are usually defined as extremists within Islam, holding to a very rigid and often literal interpretation of the statements in the Qur’aan and/or Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).  There are dozens upon dozens of interpretations in the understanding and even implementation of how one practices Islam, which are often clouded with political aspirations, cultural and/or societal norms, education and many more nuances that somehow escapes the intellectual integrity of Islam’s critics. 

God says, I’m not saying what some Muslims do, that no one should be coerced much less forced to convert to Islam.  It’s right there in the Qur’aan for all to read. I’ll briefly outline just a few verses that stipulates freedom of religion:

  1. Chapter 2: 256 Let there be no compulsion in religion
  2. Chapter 18: 29 Say, “The truth is from your Lord”: Let him who will believe, and let him who will, reject (it)
  3. Lastly, there’s an entire Surah (Chapter), an entire Surah, not just a verse, that speaks of those who disbelieve in the Qur’aan and God’s message:
    • The Disbelievers | Sura #109 | Meccan
      1. Say: O ye that reject Faith!
      2. I worship not that which ye worship,
      3. Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
      4. And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship,
      5. Nor will ye worship that which I worship.
      6. To you be your (way, religion, way of life), and to me mine.

Mr. Hillyer continues:

At the risk of over-generalizing, and with due respect for the reality that broad generalizations may not apply in certain individual circumstances, let us examine the differences between the faiths.

The reason the Judeo-Christian tradition is better – the reason we offer it with love to the world – is because it insists on the intrinsic worth of every individual, including those who are neither Christians nor Jews. Islam doesn’t.

A case in point above, he says “Islam” doesn’t offer love to the world.  While I would agree that there are Muslims who don’t offer this loving compassion that I personally admire in many Christians that I’ve encountered, but to say that’s exclusive to only Christians and Jews is not only factually incorrect, but over the top.  Would you say the KKK offers love to African Americans?  They’re Christians, correct?  There are a ton of atrocities to go around for all religions, which is not only reserved for Islam. But I’m sure you’ll say, they don’t practice Christianity but when Muslims say the same thing about ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, etc., you’ll say they are practicing Islam?  I find that very disingenuous.

Mr. Hillyer continues:

(It recognizes the value of mankind, but not of each individual human, or at least not in the same way we do.) Likewise, Judeo-Christianity’s emphasis on free will, and freedom in general, is very different from Islam’s. Their “freedom” is usually seen as “a mental condition or a condition of the spirit,” but not a freedom (as broadly as ours is) to act on those choices without earthly repercussion.

Mr. Hillyer, I would like to encourage you, especially if you’re to critique Islam, to at least read on the many traditions within it.  It appears you’re reading with a similar mindset of some of the Muslim literalists, focusing only on what you want to see.  That’s very unfortunate and again, disingenuous.  As a Christian, I would expect more from you.

Mr. Hillyer continues:

And we separate the civil law from the religious law, and leave it to God, not man, to judge and deal with actions that solely transgress the latter. Islam tends to insist that even private transgressions are sins against Allah’s community and punishable by the clerical state.

I would agree with you that there’s a conflation between the religious and civil laws in many of the Muslim majority countries, however, I find much of what is punishable by the clerical states in these countries to be more in conformity with customs and traditions rather than the dictates of the Qur’aan and authentic traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). 

Islam is practiced right here in the USA and I’ll go out on a limb and say that I’m able to practice Islam better here than in any other part of the world. We are living peacefully under the laws of the United States of America and that has nothing to do with either Christianity or Judaism, but because of the Constitution’s freedom of religion.  I don’t know of a single Muslim who find issues with the Constitution of the United States of America.  If there are Muslims living here in the USA who have issues with the freedom we have under our Constitution, then please feel free to take a one way ticket out and enjoy your life elsewhere.

In the future, I hope many of Islam’s critics can at least make a distinction between Islam, Islamists, Jihadists, and Muslims.  Not all Muslims are Islamists or Jihadists and certainly none of these are “Islam!”

God (Allaah in Arabic) says in the Qur’aan in Surah (commonly referred to as Chapter) 49:13 O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).