|Hagar, by Edmonia Lewis, 19th century African-American/Native sculptor|
Thirty-five percent of all Americans favor a temporary ban on Muslims, the Trump ban; but just about sixty percent oppose it. Those numbers--those percentages--go up among those Americans unaffiliated with any church, where 75 percent oppose the ban. Consider this: 66 per cent of non-white Protestants oppose it.
Here's what's got me stumped: the only group in the survey in which a majority favor a Muslim ban is White Evangelical Protestants, of whom I am one. Sixty-one percent of us favor the Trump ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries, as opposed to 35% of all Americans. White evangelical Protestants are an oddity.
Here's the graph, as it appeared in the August 2nd issue of Christian Century.
I know it's probably impossible to keep the President out of this, but, honestly, let's try. Let's just assume that a person's admiration for the President is not the major motivating factor. The question, then, is this: why should evangelical Christians, more than any other grouping of Christian believers want to keep Muslims out?
Is there a scriptural reason? Do a majority of white evangelical protestants favor the ban because they know the Old Testament story of Abraham and Hagar and their child, Ishmael? Is it because, even today, Muslims celebrate Hagar and Ishmael at Mecca? Is it because WEPs think of Hagar and Ishmael as cast out by God, a nation who did not inherit the covenant promised to Abraham? Is it because we see them as doctrinal enemies?
Is there some cultic PTSD in our collective souls, some remnant foggy memory of the Crusades, when Christian believers massacred Muslims for their faith, having received the promise of forgiveness and salvation for their pious deeds? Does our rather peculiar belief stem from a thousand years or more of Western history?
Is it simply terrorism's frightening ability to leave us feeling so immensely powerless? Is it the fact that it strikes anywhere, anytime, killing innocent people?
Is it a sense that Islam, more than anything else, threatens "a Christian nation"? Is it because we see Islam as the peculiar manifestation of evil in the world today?
Are white evangelical Protestants more afraid than other believers? more we simply more hateful? Do we think of ourselves as being more faithful? more biblical? more righteous?
Isn't Jesus Chrst's ministry all about loving the stranger? Isn't the Good Samaritan his story?
Is endless Old Testament warfare the source for white evangelical Protestantism's political persuasion--this scary sense of "the enemy at the gate"? And if that's true, aren't we forgetting "the Great Commandment," to love God above all and your neighbor as yourself? Or are only our own our neighbors?
Maybe it's that biblical wisdom really has nothing to do with Old Glory and our national politics?
If, as some might suggest, it's fear that motivates white evangelical Protestant support for a Muslim ban, why is it that we more afraid than everybody else? and what are we afraid of exactly?
I don't know the answers to the questions I'm asking, and I've always simply assumed I am a white evangelical Protestant; but I've never felt so far away.