I consider myself a Christian. If I’ve never mentioned that to you before, it’s probably because I’m afraid of your preconceived notions about that word – many of which are very fair.
People who claim to be Christians have at various times been responsible for some of the most racist, disgustingly homophobic, and tragically violent acts of the past year. The word ‘Christian’ is too often associated with an us versus them mentality that seeks to exclude rather than include. It’s become about a culture, instead of about a person–a man who who always sought to help those whom society considered outsiders.
No wonder I have a hard time talking about faith in a public forum. The crazies have conscripted and twisted Christianity to the point where it’s unrecognizable to me. My faith has been hijacked.
But the thing is, this hasn’t only happened to me. It’s happened to thousands of Muslims who in the past decade have seen their faith associated with the worst possible face of humanity. The extremists who executed those terrible acts 10 years ago today represent only a tiny portion of Muslims, and yet Islam itself has had a target on its back, put there by – there it is again – Christians in this country who are driven more by fear than by reason; more by pundits than the words of Jesus.
On this anniversary of 9/11, I’m proud to say that the church we’ve been members of since moving to Chicago, the Evanston Vineyard, is participating in a September 11 Walk and Talk in Evanston. Members from Christian, Muslim and Jewish congregations throughout the city will walk side by side, not as a protest or a political statement, but simply to get to know one another and promote a common humanity. In my view, nothing could be a more fitting tribute to those lost.
I know I’ve opened up a bottle of worms here by talking about religion. But on this day of all days, and with the mood in this country, it seems appropriate to acknowledge that there are still people working towards a common good – whether they be called Christian, Muslim, or anything else.