Few Americans would deny that Judeo-Christian beliefs and values informed the Founding of this country and that they continue to shape much of American life today. Nor would many of us deny that Americans who embrace Islamic values are a distinct minority here.
I raise these two facts because of an emerging reality: that, in a variety of contexts, American Muslims are treated better than American Christians. That might seem like a bizarre assertion, so think about it in another way: What if the Christians were treated like Muslims in America, and Muslims like Christians?
If Muslims were treated like Christians in America, Muslims would have to tolerate the defamation of their holiest images in our national museums, acts which would be called “artwork” — and, if particularly provocative, even given taxpayer-funded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. They would also have to accept Korans being burned and thrown into toilets, which instead of inciting worldwide outrage and retribution would provoke a collective shrug of the shoulders.
If Muslims were treated like Christians, Muslims would be mocked by late night TV talk show hosts and lampooned in crude cartoon parodies. If Christians were treated like Muslims, conspicuous Christianity would be celebrated by our elites as a sign of our diversity and open-mindedness, not disparaged as an embarrassment, a nuisance and a breach of the law.
If Christianity were treated like Islam, our students would be taught a white-washed version of Christian history, with the troubling bits miscast or omitted from textbooks and lesson plans.
If Christianity were treated like Islam, if an evangelical Christian committed an evil act in the name of his faith, he would be portrayed in the media as a deviation from, not a personification of, the Gospel message. Meanwhile, our political and media elites would hasten to assure the public that evangelical Christianity is a religion of peace and that the vast majority of evangelical Christians do not support terrorism.
If Christianity were treated like Islam in America, our president, a professed Christian, would proudly attend Christian-themed dinners and events while skipping Ramadan dinners, not vice versa. And Muslim politicians would go out of their way to assure people that their faith would not affect their policy-making.
If Christianity were treated like Islam, Christmas and Easter would be publicly celebrated for what they are — the signature events of Christianity, marking the birth and the death and Resurrection of Christ — not stripped of all their theological meaning and transformed into secular holidays devoted to crass consumerism.
If Christians were treated like Muslims, NASA would be tasked with reaching out to Christians and recognizing their faith’s profound achievements and contributions to science, math and engineering, instead of being told to make Muslims feel good about their rather meager scientific accomplishments.
If Christians were treated like Muslims, the Catholic Church’s stances on sex, contraception and human life would be revered as welcome departures from our over-sexed, self-obsessed culture, not condemned as a cause of disease and death in the less-developed world. And if Muslims were treated like Christians, the application of Sharia law around the world would be met not with stony silence but with the outrage it deserves.
If Christians were treated like Muslims in America, amusement parks would celebrate “Christian Family Day,” (Six Flags recently celebrated “Muslim Family Day”), and Christians would be asked to embrace, not set aside, their religious convictions at the door when they entered the public square. Meanwhile, Muslim imams, not Christian pastors, would fear hate crimes lawsuits for preaching orthodox views of sexuality and sin.
The notion that American Muslims face discrimination, even to the point of violence, is often posited by America’s elites. But that idea evaporates under scrutiny. Remarkably few hate crimes are reported against Muslims (fewer than one-eighth those against Jews). What’s more, Muslim immigration to America has risen sharply since September 11, 2001, and Muslims thrive, economically and educationally, once they arrive.
In fact, it is Christians, not Muslims, who increasingly encounter cultural elites who are hostile to their beliefs and values.
Sadly, Christians will never be treated like Muslims by America’s elites. Why? Because Christianity can be attacked without fear of retribution. The Christian response to insult and attack — “to turn the other cheek” — contradicts the knee-jerk call to violence of many Islamists.
It’s also because left-wing elites and radical Islamists are united in the common cause of upending the Judeo-Christian culture and roots of American society.
I’m not in favor of burning the Koran, and I don’t think insulting or defaming symbols of any religion constitutes art. At a time of the year when intolerance for public displays of Christianity is most acute, it is my Christmas wish that Muslims and Christians would be treated equally.