Islam is not the problem. The problem is extremism. And not just extremism in the Middle East but extremism everywhere and more specifically in our own nation. When we have elected officials like the wing-nut in South Carolina saying that women are a different cut of meat and shouldn’t be serving in an elected position. That’s extremism and extreme ignorance to boot.

When we have a former mayor saying that our president doesn’t love America that’s extremism. When we have state legislators bringing bills that say if a state official issues a marriage license to anyone they will be summarily fired, just to try and circumvent the law of the land and prevent gays from marrying, that’s extremism.

ISIS are extremists and they are vicious and evil and yes barbaric. But they do not represent Islam or Muslims any more than the KKK or Pat Robertson or Phil ‘Duck Dynasty’ Robertson represents Christianity as a whole. They are all extremists of varying degrees and they DO NOT REPRESENT ANY FAITH as part of the mainstream of that faith.

ISIS is an extreme cult that is using Islam to gain followers. They are using extreme passages of the Koran to pretend that they represent the Muslim faith. There are those who claim to be Christians who attempt to use passages from the Old Testament to represent the Christian faith, to gain followers. Both are extreme views. But neither have any claim to representing the true tenets of Islam nor Christianity.

As for people who profess to be Christians attempting to take parts of the Old Testament out of context and claim that Christ adhered to those passages is wrong on so many levels. Christ was not a Christian and he never considered himself to be one. He was a Jewish Rabbi that offered his followers and anyone who would listen a New Covenant in which there was little relevance to the Old Testament. He did not offer his followers Christianity. He offered his followers a new way to have faith and to believe.

Christ’s faith is rooted in compassion, love, kindness and peace. He preached that we should not resort to violence as a means to spread our faith. And when you pervert his teachings to claim he was an a violent man you are subverting his teachings, at least that is my opinion. I believe the same about Islam. Islam was not founded as a violent faith in which killing those who were not believers in Islam was directed by the Koran. That’s not Christianity, nor is it Islam, and anyone who believes it is has not studied either Christian teachings nor Islamic teachings.

I have studied both and although they have different was of believing they essentially believe in many of the same things. And many books of the Koran are the same books you will find in our Bible. No brag! Just fact!

Extremists do not represent any faith. They represent hatred, bigotry and racism. And they are found in all nations. Extremists like the KKK have long violent pasts in which they instigated and participated in thousands of lynching’s of Black Americans, burned many Black Churches and promulgated many violent confrontations during the Civil Rights Movement in the 50’s and 60’s. They have toned down their violence but they still preach hate and bigotry.

We as Americans and we as citizens of the world need to step up and denounce ISIS, the KLU KLUX KLAN and any other extreme movement that preaches hate, bigotry and violence as a part of any religion. We have freedom of speech in this nation, but as conservative Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once noted in a supreme court opinion. “Freedom of speech does not extend to shouting fire in a crowded theater.” In other words our freedom to speak our minds does not extend to the extreme. Ted Nugent, Rudy Giuliani or any other bigot can say a lot of hateful things, but they are not representative of America nor its citizens and we have no reason to honor them. And they have no right to spew forth their hatred, racism and bigotry without expecting to be called out for it.

We can disagree with one another but when we cross the line and interject our hatred and bigotry as part of the conversation that is wrong. I disagree with a lot of people on a lot of things but I do not fill my disagreements with hate, bigotry nor racism. Adding bigotry to the mix does not advance your side nor belief in any way. It only serves to prove the opposite belief.

This is a nation which under our constitution welcomes all religious philosophies and we always have. That was one of the reasons we were founded so that our citizens could worship as they chose. As one of our founders said, “We are not a Christian nation, we are a nation in which a majority of our citizens are Christian!” And I might add all other religions are welcome.

Bob Bearden


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