Thursday, June 4, 2009

The U.S. a Muslim Nation?

First we were told that America is not a Christian nation.

Now, there is a sense in which I agree. Certainly we are a majority Christian nation and our laws and national identity were shaped through the lens of a basically Christian worldview. But in a strict sense the U.S. is not a Christian nation (nor is any nation for that matter). Under the Old Covenant Israel was God's nation, God's people in anticipation of a people who would be formed by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ. God's people are citizens of another country, a better city with foundations whose architect and builder is God. That said, the vast majority of Americans identify themselves as Christian. So I suppose that while demographically, the U.S. is a Christian nation, theologically this is not the case.

Now Muslim nations are being told that America is one of the world's largest Muslim nations.

I must admit that language begins to fail me. Indeed, coherant thought begins to fail me at this point. First of all it's patently false from a numeric point of view. The U.S. has fewer than 1% of the world's Muslims. Secondly, the culture of the U.S. is far from Islamic. So I am left wondering why go to Saudi Arabia and make such comments? This is not a rhetorical question. I genuinely want to know. If anyone can provide an answer without tooth or claw then I would love to hear it.


Mike said...

Agree that America is not one of the largest Muslim nations but I don't remember Obama saying that in his speech...I believe he said that America had 7 million Muslims. I have not combed thru the whole speech...did he say this in another context besides the speech or did I miss it in the speech?

Todd Pruitt said...

He did say that America is one of the largest Muslim nations in the world in an interview. I think he said it in another context as well but I'm not sure.

Bill Legge said...

Did Obama say America, or did he say the U.S.A.?

If he said U.S.A. he might have meant U here in Saudi Arabia.

Harley A. said...

Obama might think so, but apparently Osama didn’t...

Bill Legge said...

Okay, I'm at a loss. According to the transcript of an interview with French television station, Canal Plus, President Obama was asked what he hoped to achieve with his trip to the Middle East.

His response, in part, was; "And one of the points I want to make is, is that if you actually took the number of Muslims Americans, we'd be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world. And so there's got to be a better dialogue and a better understanding between the two peoples." The full transcript can be read on the White House website.

I need to think this one through for a bit. My initial response is rife with cynicism.

Todd Pruitt said...

I am trying not to be cynical. Of course sometimes realism looks like cynicism. There are so many things about this trip to Saudi Arabia that leave me dismayed.

I just don't understand why the President would say such a thing in Saudi Arabia especially when it is so verifiably false.

Dave Rogel said...

One of the first steps toward peace (in any situation, from the smallest personal squabble to the largest conflict--as one might well assert the present Middle East situation is) is establishing common ground. There should be no confusion regarding the benefit of asserting to Muslims that there is a noteworthy (though exaggerated in the interview) Muslim population in the U.S. This pulls matters away from an us-and-them framework which makes each nation feel alien to each other and allows for the kinds of blanket hatred that is, in part, responible for the current threats to our country. Although radical groups are not likely to be persuaded from their views, the effects of the general Arab population moving from indifference to positivity with regard to perceptions of the U.S. could throw radical groups out of favor in these areas and have a potentially beneficial impact on the overall situation.

The U.S. being generally disliked in many predominantly Muslim nations is the single greatest source of worry for me, in terms of our country's security. I was encouraged that the president would make a speech aimed at cooling some of the perception of the U.S. as an non- and possibly anti-Muslim entity. Erasing the stereotype of the American with a Toby Keith bumper sticker and a rifle with stars and crescents etched into the side of it can't be all bad, can it?

(By the way, I agree that "one of the largest Muslim nations" is numerically ridiclulous. I was not attempting to defend the assertion itself, but the reasons for which it might have been made.)

Todd Pruitt said...


I agree with what you are saying so long as we are dealing with nations that can be reasoned with. The problem is that this does not seem to be the case with some Muslim nations. We are dealing with people who hate us because we support Israel. What is more they will continue to hate us so long as we support Israel.

Dave Rogel said...

When did Muslim nations become single, monolithic entities? Nations are composed of many, many human beings, each of whom has an opinion (regardless of whether the expression of that opinion is permitted). Some individuals in Muslim nations (and elswhere, e.g. Britain) wish that every non-Muslim in the West would die, immediately. Other individuals in Muslim nations (arguably far more of them) want to purchase groceries, drink tea, pray, and more or less get on with life and stop having cars blowing up in their neighborhoods.

The trouble is that U.S. attempts at reducing the numbers of cars blowing up have had a mixed impact on peoples views, as they have (inevitably, from a military perspective) sometimes resulted in deaths and injuries of civilians (the very thing we are trying to reduce).

Furthermore, some of the groups who are ultimately responsible for much of the violence are represented (though usually a minority) in the governments of these nations. The reason these groups can sustain favor in some provinces is that those who politically oppose them are seen as pro-West, which is bad. What if pro-West stopped being bad?

'Muslim nations' are not irrational, mindless hordes of freedom-hating, bald-eagle-shooting lunatics. A very small contingent of people within Muslim nations are. The rest are either: A.) pro-violence, but do not themselves act on it (in which case persuading them at least to neutrality would be productive), B.) Neutral (in which case persuading them towards a favorable opinion of the U.S. would be helpful--not only for the value of their own opinion, but for those whose opinions they might influence; a person is much more likely to listen to a neighbor than a foreigner), or C.) Pro-West but quiet about it (in which case, removing the stigma of being pro-West would allow greater boldness on the part of those who work for positive change within their society).

If a preacher in the U.S. delivered a sermon about how rotten Muslims were, and how we should kill them all, not only would those listening probably have the discernment to know that what they were hearing was hateful and wrong, but the preacher could probably be charged for encouraging criminal activity (murder). What if, say, Iraq got to a point where someone like Muqtada al-Sadr would be shunned for delivering hate-filled sermons? How can Iraq even hope to get to that point unless the people (the many individual people) are given a reason to disagree with him? How will that happen unless we begin to disassemble the divisive "us-and-them" framework on which most anti-U.S. rhetoric hangs?

Muslims are not unreasonable. TERRORISTS are unreasonable. The two are not the same thing.

Dave Rogel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave Rogel said...

[Sorry about the deletion above--I accidentally left out an entire word and the sentence made no sense.]

Although I believe strongly that entire nations (being composed of individuals) are not capable of being unreasonable, their leaders certainly are. (Todd--if that is what you meant all along, I apologize for the above essay.)

That said, Iran's presidential election is June 12. Anyone familiar with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Iran's current president and one of four candidates for the next term) will know that he is a crystal-clear example of "America likes Israel; therefore we hate America". Let's hope that Ahmadinejad will be replaced by someone more cooperative and reasonable. It's a really big deal.

Christian Citizen said...

Here is the quote, directly from

And one of the points I want to make is, is that if you actually took the number of Muslims Americans, we'd be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world. And so there's got to be a better dialogue and a better understanding between the two peoples.

He got it wrong--although among Western nations we would qualify (Russia, France, Germany, USA). I wonder if that's what the intent of the number was. #*$&($ briefings!

He's not the Messiah after all. Stone him!