Maslow, Trump and Muslims

Why are evangelicals supporting Trump?

Remember Maslow and his “hierarchy of needs”? The basic premise is that we will sacrifice everything else we hold dear if we do not have our basic foundational needs met. If a person is dying of thirst or cannot breathe, he will do anything, including risking his personal safety, to get air or water. As you move up his chart, Maslow claims that people are more concerned about their safety than their self-esteem or belonging to a group. His theory is that people will abandon their higher values if they feel like their safety is at risk or their group identity is being threatened.

The Secret of Immigrant Genius

Why are Immigrants DIsproportionally More Creative?

Victor Hugo, Marie Curie, Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein were all immigrants or refugees.  They either chose, or were forced, to cross cultures. Eric Weiner notes this phenomenon in a Wall Street Journal article, “The Secret of Immigrant Genius.”  So many immigrants excel that it has attracted the attention of social psychologists to ask “Why?”

Islamophobia Hurts America

Religious Freedom and Islamophobia Conference in Philadelphia October 6-8, 2015

Douglas Johnston is known as the “Father of Faith Based Diplomacy. Opening the conference on Religious Freedom and Islamophobia, Johnston said, “The greatest asset we have to fight militant Islam is the American Muslim community. Unfortunately, we have alienated many in this community.” Johnston also said, “As the Muslim community is marginalized, it plays into the hands of extremists.”

Many in evangelical circles are concerned with the impact of overgeneralized anti-Islamic rhetoric and how that impacts common goals that we all share for religious freedom and security. The polarization between the Muslim communities and the Christian communities is doing great harm to our nation and to our Christian witness.

Help Refugees Thrive, Not Just Survive

TED Talk
October 2014

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Melissa Fleming works with the UN’s High Commission on Refugees. Drawing on anecdotal stories from Syria, Sudan and Somalia, she makes the case for investing more resources in these refugee camps, specifically in the area of education.  The typical refugee is in one of these camps for 17 years.  These years are many times “lost” focusing on basic survival. Fleming says we should use this time more productively.  She believes the refugees hold the keys to peace and need to be equipped to break the cycles of violence that have produced 50 million refugees.

If you care abut refugees and their future potential, I encourage you to watch this TED Talk. You will get a few sobering statistics and be inspired concerning both the threat and possibilities present in the refugee camps. Perhaps we can dream together on ways to help the next generations.

Hedayah Helps Counteract Violent Extremism

The Washington Post
October 21, 2014

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Based in the UAE, Hedayah was formed in 2011 to research and counter violent extremism.  David Ignatius describes four methods they use to do so.

  • They work within the educational systems to prevent violent extremism
  • They work to de-redicalize prisoners
  • They tell the stories of victims of terrorism as a counter-narrative
  • They use social media to monitor and combat violent extremism.

Ignatius concludes;

“Let’s be honest: It’s too late to stop the radicalization of Islamic State fighters. The battle to “degrade and ultimately destroy” those recruits, unfortunately, will now be waged with Apache gunships and drones. But maybe their younger brothers and cousins can be deterred from violent extremism by programs like the ones that Hedayah is promoting.”

Good News on Religious Freedom from Indonesia

Breaking Christian News
September 29, 2014

Delegates at AM4Peace gathering in JakartaIn a time when the barbaric actions of ISIS toward minorities fill the headlines, it is good to see that Muslim and Christian religious leaders in Indonesia have agreed on the importance of religious freedom for all.  Ambassadors for Peace was started shortly after the events of September 11, 2001. They have traveled around the world promoting the “Ambassadors for Peace Resolution

 The document’s main theme is to “foster religious tolerance, the right to faith, freedom of speech, and freedom from reprisal or persecution, and open dialogue.”

If you can get past all of the Washington Times advertisements, they have a good article on the status of freedom of religion. Thomas Farr, professor at Georgetown University and author of “World of Faith and Freedom: Why International Religious Liberty is Vital to National Security,” says.

“I cannot identify a single country under this administration that has advanced religious freedom or reduced religious persecution.”

Currently, the position of Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom is vacant and has been for some time. Rabbi Saperstein has been nominated but not confirmed.  This leaves the US without a credible voice in the push for religious understanding and freedom.  Additionally, many feel this position does not have adequate access to decision makers to truly be effective.

Is there a caliph leading ISIS?  What does that mean?

As we sat in the mosque talking about the differences between the approach of Muhammad and ISIS, our conversation turned to this self-appointed caliph, Al-Baghdadi.  The imam made it clear that Al-Baghdadi is acting from political motives and does not speak for Islam. He referenced hundreds, or possibly thousands, of Islamic scholars who have rejected the man. The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) released a similar statement condemning ISIS and advocating rights of minorities in Muslim majority countries. You can see that statement at this link S2S statement on rlgs minorities.  This four minute video is just part of an insightful conversation.  For more videos click here.

Imam Wasif, with other Sunni and Shia Muslim leaders in Louisville, called a press conference on August 25, 2014 to condemn the actions of ISIS. Afterwards we sat in his mosque and I asked some clarifying questions. In this video Imam Wasif says that press statements are necessary because people are not sufficiently informed about Islam. He references respected Islamic scholars that oppose ISIS and explains how orthodox Islam opposes groups like ISIS. Dr. Muhammad Babar also wrote an editorial for the Courier-Journal on this same topic.

Some Christian Thoughts on Fear

If you were to ask Muslims about the events in Iraq and Syria, you would get many different answers as to why these things are happening, which implies there is no single grand conspiracy that all Muslims have to “take over the world.” Sure, there are some who have grand designs to rule the world under a single caliphate, but most Muslims would never follow the radical leader of ISIS. The deeper question is, “Why would anyone follow a self-proclaimed spiritual and political leader who advocates such violence as God’s will?” Imam Wasif Iqbal asked the same question in a recent video interview that I did with him. According to the imam, this “caliph” has no appeal or legitimacy to most Muslims.

Many Muslims would like to see the world submitted to God. Christians would say the same thing. This world would be better off if we were submitted to God, but that should lead us to a neglected conversation between Muslims and Christians about what it means to submit to God and just how are we supposed to get to that point.

Balancing Hard and Soft Power (Part 1)

The war drums are beating again. “ISIS is just one airline ticket away from attacking the United States,” a senator said on the morning news. The President was to announce another round of policy changes in a speech that night. “We hope the President, in his speech tonight, does not tie our hands and get into what the US will and will not do.”

It seems the “go-to” tool is the military. If things begin to boil out of control, it must be time to bomb the pot. In between bombings, we ignore the pot as it simmers on the stove. Some say it is too expensive to invest in development programs abroad. We even have laws that prevent us from engaging. You have probably heard, “We don’t negotiate with terrorists.” At some point, to resolve issues, somebody has got to talk.