Imagine if the bigoted Westboro Baptist Church took over the Southern Baptist Convention, and Pope Francis were replaced with the renegade bishop Richard Williamson, who questions the Holocaust. Then swap out the vast majority of Catholic bishops for various Holocaust deniers. Imagine further that for all of its history Christianity had been committed to enforcing in law the harshest punishments mentioned in the Old Testament — including the death penalty for astrologers, adulterers and disobedient children.
Now pretend that virtually all Christian churches — Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox — agreed that religious coercion was an intrinsic part of Christianity, which ought to dominate the entire planet, by force if necessary, subjugating members of every other religion where possible — especially Jews. Imagine further that Christians today regarded Jews as despicable renegades who’d falsified their own scriptures in order to hijack divine revelation. Imagine that every Christian was told by the Gospel itself to wage a “Crusade” against unbelievers (armed and unarmed), in imitation of Christ. In this alternate reality, by the way, Christians learn that Jesus died after a long and successful life as a rich, polygamous warlord.
Imagine that Christians who moved to other countries formed in their churches political cells dedicated to promoting an aggressively militant Global Christendom, with lavish funding from the Vatican. While many Christians remained rather lukewarm and lax, a lively minority in every country that had a Christian presence actively identified as “Crusaders.” Christian families were urged by their clergy to keep up a higher birth rate than their neighbors — if need be by relying on generous public welfare programs — so that they could someday impose Christian supremacy in the new societies where they were living.
Christians in poor countries would be encouraged by their clergy to emigrate to rich, non-Christian countries in order to wage the “Crusade of the Cradle.” Periodically, Christians would be arrested for defying secular law — say for stoning a disobedient child or adulterer — and Christians would respond by claiming that they are subject only to Church law. Oh yes, and picture just one more thing: That 99.5% of the murderous suicide attacks in the world in 2015 had been committed by Christianists engaged in “the Crusade.”
In this fantasy world, imagine that a non-Christian society such as Japan were inundated with would-be Christian immigrants, who clamored to join the fast-growing minority of Christians already present, despite the recurrence of high-profile terrorist attacks on Japanese citizens and government centers by violent Christian Crusaders. Would Japanese politicians who opposed such a Christian influx be bigots? Should they be accused of reverting to fascism, or wishing to re-enact the Rape of Nanking, simply because they did not wish to open their nation’s doors to people whose deepest-held beliefs were intrinsically violent, aggressive and focused on dominating their neighbors?
Would citizens who listened to those politicians themselves be bigots? Would Japan be betraying its post-war, post-fascist democratic constitution if it chose to accept other immigrants instead? Absolutely not. It would be doing the first, most basic duty of any government: protecting its citizens and their basic human rights against the aggression of outsiders.
Neither would America be betraying its tolerant culture by rejecting Muslim immigrants today. Yes, there are many kind and decent Muslims. But every orthodox Muslim by definition holds that sharia should be the law of the land in every country in the world, and that Muslim men are duty-bound to engage in jihad until this is the case. Every orthodox Muslim believes that the proper penalty for adultery, or homosexuality, or leaving Islam, is death. Every orthodox Muslim believes that polygamy is acceptable, and that girls can be married as young as nine — since that was the age of Muhammad’s youngest wife, and everything Muhammad did in his life is morally good, worthy of imitation.
These are the facts, stubborn and ugly as sin and death. We don’t want to believe this about Islam precisely because the facts are unpleasant. Much easier, isn’t it, to pretend that President Obama is telling the truth about Islam, that it is a “religion of peace” inexplicably hijacked and perverted for evil purposes — over and over and over again, by its own highest clergy, seminaries, universities and governments that speak in its name.