Motivate your base,
find a scapegoat

Bishop Gene Robinson figures that as homosexuality becomes more of a non issue it’s no surprise that the political element known as the Religious Right has turned its attention to stoking fear of Muslim Americans:

There’s been incitement of hate and discrimination to the enactment of the Defense of Marriage Act, active opposition to reforms such as the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and well-funded efforts to forestall marriage equality.


Now, however, it appears that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people’s success in achieving equal rights in this country is impending and virtually assured. It makes me wonder, then, if a new “enemy” is now being chosen—Muslim Americans and Islam.

I fear we are seeing the next mass target for scapegoating. Will the obsession with Muslims “too near” Ground Zero disappear with the midterm elections? Sadly, I think not. Have political operatives and religious right leaders decided that Muslim Americans and Islam are the next scapegoat? That they are a sure vehicle for getting conservative voters to the polls and for opening the wallets of religious right contributors?

Read it all here.

Robinson concludes, “When religious freedom and tolerance is attacked for some, it is threatened for all. All of us must work tirelessly to undo the suspicion, hatred, and xenophobia directed toward our Muslim fellow citizens.” Like this Tennessee church:

When pastor Steve Stone initially heard of the mosque and Islamic center being erected on the sprawling land adjacent his church, his stomach tightened.

Then he raised a 6-foot sign reading, “Welcome to the Neighborhood.”

The issue for Stone and the 550-person Heartsong Church in Cordova, came down to one question: “What would Jesus do if He were us? He would welcome the neighbor,” Stone said.

The Memphis Islamic Center, a nonprofit organization formed three years ago, is two weeks from breaking ground on the first phase of a multimillion-dollar complex.

While plans for Islamic centers across the country and just miles away have triggered vitriolic responses and divided communities, here in Memphis it’s been a peaceful process.

While the 4,000-square-foot worship hall is being completed, Heartsong has opened its doors to its neighbors throughout the monthlong observance of Ramadan. Under a gigantic cross constructed of salvaged wood, nearly 200 area Muslims have been gathering each night to pray.

It appears that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people’s success in achieving equal rights in this country is impending and virtually assured. It makes me wonder, then, if a new “enemy” is now being chosen—Muslim Americans and Islam. – Gene Robinson

Category : The Lead

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