There’s always room to find common ground. In the May 2012 edition of the American Family Association Journal, Ayaan Hirsi Ali has her article in Newsweek highlighted by Tim Wildmon’s editorial “Kudos…to Newsweek.” Tim Wildmon and Ayaan Hirsi Ali…not exactly a match-up on most issues except the debate over whether Islam is a religion of peace.
Ayaan ‘s article was called “The War on Christians” and she covers horror stories about persecution of Christians in the Muslim world. If you don’t know, Ayaan is a well known atheist and advocate for womens’ rights, something Wildmon acknowledges in his editorial. However, he quickly jumps into making sure we know the majority of charitable humanitarian work is done by American Christians. Which is true, but as we know Christianity is diverse in the United States and not necessarily in the Wildmon fundamentalist camp.
Concerning charity done by Christians in the US, Wildmon concludes that, “As far as I know, there is no such comparable work being done around the world by Islamic groups or organizations.” That’s actually a good question? With secular humanists and freethinkers we always point to science and human efforts to eradicate disease, grow more food and find solutions that don’t require prayer. This kind of work is not always easily measured or visible. Atheists, in particular, are in the minority, often working within Christian charities who have resources and money. Islam, as one of the three major religions, should be a close second as far as charity. You would think?
The problem Islam has outside of the US is charities can either be a mask for terrorist organizations or possibly a charity is legitimate but falls under suspicion and donations are lost as a result. About.com has a list of the most reputable charities.
Wildmon claims “One of the most striking differences is that Christianity teaches, practices and encourages charity. Islam does not.” That statement seems presumptuous. As with most religion, it’s a mixed bag. You can pull charity out of the Bible and the Church as well as bigotry, violence, and pseudoscience–all of which hinder progress and are antithetical to a charitable nature. AFA may be involved in charity–which is commendable–but they also teach intolerance towards homosexuals, do not promote birth control and a woman’s right to an abortion, and outdated views on gender roles. Islam has the same problem, but to say they don’t teach charity? I’m sure there are strings attached, as with Christian missionaries, but charity is taught here and here as a quick search through Google popped up. I would propose, that regardless of religion, charitable people teach charity with a blind eye towards any contradictory scripture in their holy book. I will concede that Christians may still be doing the lion’s share of charity work until I find information that says otherwise.
The rise in persecution towards Christians in the Middle East is alarming. As much as I think Christianity is false and pointless, I would never want to see anyone killed or tortured over it. The breakdown of Islamic fundamentalism is going to be a slow, painful process. Thankfully we have leaders like Ayaan Hirsi Ali at the forefront who don’t promote a religious answer, but a secular one–stop believing in God and you’re faced with the reality that there is no heaven or hell, there’s only now and life is too precious to kill for the sake of superstition.
For more on Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an amazing woman, see her Facebook page.