The elevator doors opened and in walked a young woman dressed in the traditional veiled hijab–I’m assuming she was a Muslim–and I thought to myself, “Is she my enemy?” Looking at the reaction to my last column, there’s a whole bunch of people whose default position is to believe so–and maybe they’re right. In their minds, “Islam is the enemy. We’re at war. She shouldn’t be here.” It’s that simple to them.
But, of course, in the real world, it is so much more complicated–and ancient. Humanity has been dealing with this prob-lem for a long time. Plato addressed the theological-political problem in his Laws back in the 5th century B.C. Today, for most of us, the problem occurs in the struggle to reconcile two conflicting beliefs.
As Christians, we believe Islam is a false religion–and the belief is reciprocal.
As Americans, we believe in the free exercise of religion, including Islam–but this belief is not reciprocal.
So, how do we deal with tolerating a religion that is itself intolerant of us? Ought we to pride ourselves on our tolerance and eagerly embrace their intolerance even if it leads to our own destruction? Or, perhaps we ought to abandon our First Amendment and be intolerant of Islam while tolerating only those “acceptable” religions that we decide are “peaceful”? Or, should we intolerantly force them to abandon their religion and embrace a “moderate” replacement that we approve of?
None of these options work for me. I’m a Christian American and I want to live at peace with others, but if someone wants to kill my family, it’s a fight to the death. I don’t think we’re there, yet. Nor do I want to pass an Amendment that would legalize religious discrimination. I don’t want to adapt to them, I think they should adapt to us and embrace toler-ance–the whole “live and let live” thing. Nor do I want to force someone to change their religion against their will–how could this even be done? There’s got to be another option. But, is there?