Caring for the Refugee

By Liz Herrick

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), in 2013 the worldwide number of refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced[1] exceeded 50 million.  The number jumped about 6 million between 2012 and 2013, mostly due to the war in Syria, but also other conflicts like those in the Central African Republic and South Sudan.  That is over 50 million people forced to leave their homes, their livelihoods, and everything they know.  Continue reading

Visiting KRM, The American dream myth, and Christian conversion

By Matthew Derrenbacher

This past week our Multifaith Perspectives on Global Displacement class visited KRM – the Kentucky Refugee Ministries. Here we had the privilege to listen to, and hear from a number of refugees regarding their experiences, faith journeys, struggles, reasons for immigration, the impact of these experiences on them and their families, and what these experiences, both good and bad, cause for them now, and in the future. Continue reading

The Real Religious Persecution

By Liz Herrickreligious liberty

It’s a fairly common trope among Right-Wing Christians in the US that they are being persecuted.  Laws and court rulings meant to protect non-Christians from having Christianity forced on them in public settings are seen by the Right as taking away their religious freedom.  “Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America,” is a 363 page document outlining such cases (it can be downloaded here), many of which  either the Right won or were later discovered to not be about religion at all.   But with over 75% of Americans identifying as Christian, this persecution is far from reality.  What is a reality however, is the persecution faced my many Christians elsewhere in the world, as well as people of other faiths around the world (including in the US). Continue reading

Islamophobia

By Dee Huey

In the interest of full disclosure, I think it best to say that I possess some measure of Islamophobia. This is not something I am proud to admit, and certainly, not something I want to perpetuate.  However, I find myself quickly jumping to ugly ideas and notions about Muslims in my midst. I try to quell these fears and anxieties.  I attempt to be open-minded and release the long-held perceptions of Muslims as people of anger and hate for the United States filled with ill will toward all Christians.  Still, these thoughts linger.
I believe these negative impressions of Islam began in my childhood during the Iran Hostage Crisis.  I was 10 years old during the crisis.  I was old enough to understand it was a big deal.  Yet, I was young enough to be extremely impressiIran Hostageonable and not understand all the complexities and intricacies of the situation.  I can remember seeing Americans being led out of a building with blindfolds on, hands tied behind their backs looking very tired, hungry, and dirty.  This was my first exposure to the reality of bad things happening in the world, as well as, the reality that not all countries liked Americans.  To my tender ten-year old mind, Muslims, Arabs, and those “bad” people in the Middle East were responsible.  Unfortunately, these impressions were not quickly outgrown. Continue reading

Our Nationalized Fear of Islam – An Origin Story

By Jennifer Lewis

For many Americans over a certain age our first connection with Muslim was one of exotic Orientalism from stories like The Tales of Alibaba and Forty Thieves or One Thousand and One Nights.  For those of us who were children of the 1970’s the Iranian hostage crisis (November ’79- January ’81) helped form our negative association of Islam, just as those who were born in the 1990’s have had their feelings about Islam formed by 9/11.

Fear seems like a reasonable even an instinctual reaction for anyone when they feel in danger or threatened.  By any measure after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States was certainly under attack from an enemy most Americans didn’t even know they had.   As television commentators sought answers after the 9/11 attacks, they ultimately began asking the same question.  President George W. Bush put a voice to that question: “Why do they hate us?”  President Bush answered question in a joint session of Congress. Continue reading

Reflection on Islamophobia

By Benjamin Guerry

Living in the United States post 9/11 means being exposed to all sorts of Islamophobia.   This is not to say that Islamophobia did not exist in the US before that day but after the events of 9/11 it permeated almost every aspect of our society.   While some people blatantly spoke out against Islam and used clearly racist terms to refer to people from the Middle East, others went so far as to commit acts of violence upon people (often American citizens) simply for the way that they looked.   The violence, fear, ignorance, and hatred made its way into our legal system and affected the way this country treated Muslims. Unfortunately this epidemic is far from over, however I do believe that many Americans have made an attempt to show compassion and respect for our Muslim sisters and brothers.

Continue reading

Dead without love: The church and Islam

By John R. Roberts

As I struggled to get my Converse off, a feeling of peace came over me. There I sat, outside of a local mosque, awaiting the opportunity to have a discussion with a Muslim leader in hopes to exchange a moment of life between me and him. As my companions and I walked in, he instructed us to have a seat near the far wall while he went to get ready. He asked if we needed chairs, but wanting to be as respectful as possible I declined. I sat on the floor with my legs tucked underneath me, ensuring that my feet would not point in his general direction, and watched as my newly made friend began the process of prayer. He carefully washed his face and arms, and facing east began to pray. The movements were mesmerizing, each one done carefully and precisely. After he finished, he came over and sat in front of us. Continue reading