Earlier this week in an interview with The Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody, (potential) presidential hopeful Donald Trump demonstrated ignorance and intolerance when he asserted that the world has a “Muslim problem.” Despite an admitted lack of expertise about Islam, he proceeded to claim that the Qur’an has “a very negative vibe” and possibly encourages hate. In previous statements, Mr. Trump has opposed the “Ground Zero Mosque” and suggested that President Obama might be a Muslim—as if a president’s faith was even a qualification for the job (Mr. Trump has also made it very clear that he is a practicing Christian). In other words, like so many politicians and public figures lately, Mr. Trump is feeding into to the anti-Muslim sentiment that continues to plague our country. As Interfaith Alliance President and State of Belief Host Rev. Welton Gaddy noted in a letter of concern sent to Mr. Trump regarding his recent comments,
“…when a candidate speaks about faith on the campaign trail, it has more to do with politics than it does with religion. You chose to air concerns about the possible implications of the teachings of Islam on the modern-day peaceful version of the religion practiced by so many around the globe today, on a program targeted toward an Evangelical Christian audience. It is hard not to see this choice as playing to the misguided fears and beliefs of those you are trying to court for political gain.”
While Mr. Trump’s black-and-white view of the world might appeal to certain groups, his inability to distinguish between radical extremists and peaceful people of faith only serves to increase tension between faiths and between the U.S. and other countries. If Mr. Trump is seriously considering a bid for America’s highest office, he needs to re-familiarize himself with the Constitution and, in particular, the First Amendment. The demonization and questioning of an entire group based on their faith is unacceptable behavior on the part of a presidential hopeful—or any good American for that matter.
Click here to listen to Dr. Mark Jordan, an author and a teacher at Harvard Divinity School, on how holy texts can be used and misused to justify behavior, in the aftermath of Florida pastor Terry Jones’ decision to burn the Koran.
Click here to listen to Farhana Khera, President and Executive Director of Muslim Advocates, on her organization’s work educating society about Muslims and helping Muslims understand the risks they face within that society. (Please note, these are extended versions of the interviews originally broadcast nationwide.) -Ed.