From the Field

Richard Cizik: Dangers of Legitimizing Bigotry

Anu Joshi • Sep 15, 2015
9/15/15 rally in support of Mr. Mukker and Richard Cizik, President of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good
9/15/15 rally in support of Mr. Mukker and Richard Cizik, President of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good

A week ago today, Inderjit Singh Mukker, a Sikh American resident of the Darien suburb of Chicago, was the victim of a brutal hate crime. Today, the Sikh Coalition hosted a press conference at the exact spot of the attack with Mukker who told the supporters gathered, “The United States is my country. I am an American-and no American should be judged or attacked because of the color of their skin or their religion.”

Richard Cizik, President of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, penned an op-ed in response to both the hate crime and a conference hosted last week by the anti-Muslim organization ACT! for America in Washington, D.C. Here is an excerpt from that post (read the full op-ed here):

“Attacks against Muslim, Arab, and South Asian Americans occur with frequency, and some of these are surely “hate crimes,” rooted in bigotry.  The path toward a different kind of society, exemplified by love, forgiveness and grace, also occurs frequently, even if it’s not publicized. For example, after the shooting in Chattanooga Tennessee, “Religions for Peace” and the “Our Muslim Neighbor” coordinated a multi-faith fundraiser led by the Muslim community in Tennessee, raising more than $22,000 for the victims’ In Knoxville.

It’s in such moments we are reminded that Muslims and Christians know what it means to be a part of the fabric of society and community and are stepping up to prove it.

“Questioning what motivates a person or an organization is problematic. It comes in part from being at the other end of such criticism.  Moreover, to give the benefit of the doubt, call it a form of grace, can and should be extended to others as God extends it to us.

“Nevertheless, just last week, the ACT! for America Conference brought together some of their members to meet with fifteen members of Congress on the dangers of Islam. While I didn’t attend, based upon previous comments by its founders, this is what could be expected:  Any “practicing Muslim who believes in the teaching of the Quran… cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.”  Or this:  “Those who are telling you Islam means peace are lying to you.”  There are consequences to this kind of assertion: members of my own evangelical faith community read it and believe it.  They are led to question whether Islam and their Muslims neighbors, are part of our shared American values.

“Members of Congress are entitled to meet with whomever they choose. History shows that Americans are more likely in danger from violent extremists who hate our own government—such as Timothy McVeigh responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing—than they are from sympathizers of groups like ISIS.

“By their association with ACT! for America, members of Congress appear to be lending their endorsement to discrimination of an entire religion.”

Read Cizik’s full post at Patheos.

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