Ramadan is in full swing and Dearborn, Mich. has more all-you-can-eat halal buffets than we have people. Call it the "Midwestern-style" Ramadan. Unfortunately, I'm not here to talk about delicious Mediterranean food or this great season of Muslim charity. Rather, I'm here to let you know crazy season has returned and another ignorant person is coming to Dearborn to preach hate.
In this case, his name is pastor Steven Anderson who hails from a small church in Arizona called the Faithful Word Baptist Church. Anderson and his church just so happen to be on the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of hate groups for saying things like:
The biggest hypocrite in the world is the person who believes in the death penalty for murderers but not for homosexuals.
This morally upstanding individual announced he's coming to Dearborn in late June because,
Over 41% of the population are Arabs, which means that there are over 40,000 Arabs living in Dearborn. The mission field is right here in America!
Unsurprisingly, Anderson seems unable to grasp basic things a person might want to know before preaching here. First of all, an Arab American is not the same thing as a Muslim American. I know that's complex, but it's worth mentioning. Statistically, American Arabs are primarily Christian. American Muslims are primarily black.
Secondly, Anderson says he's going to pass out copies of his anti-Semitic documentary, "Marching to Zion" in Arabic, because Arabic is the "native" language of Arab Americans in Dearborn.
Um, no... It's actually really racist to say that. Most Arab Americans in Dearborn are 3rd, 4th and 5th generation Americans. Dearborn's Arab Americans are as much "native" Arabic speakers as I'm a "native" Dutch speaker.
Of the 29.4% of Dearborn residents that do speak Arabic, a very small number can understand or converse on theological topics or complex themes. Many only know Arabic from speaking with parents or grandparents at home. Most Arab Americans in Dearborn who are also Muslim rely on English translations to understand the Qur'an precisely because Arabic is... you guessed it: NOT their native language.
And let's talk about that documentary, Marching to Zion, for a second:
In the documentary, America's support of Israel is blamed for legalized abortion. Anderson encourages Christians to hate Jewish persons for the slaying of Jesus Christ. He also quotes movie clips from "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," a film adaptation of the book that was used by Adolf Hitler to justify the holocaust. At one point, Anderson even tells viewers that he thinks the Star of David is, actually, the star of Beelzebub.
So, I guess being anti-Semitic and anti-gay wasn't enough for Anderson, so now he wants to come to Dearborn to try out Islamophobia. His point of view can be summed up to a quote from his "Marching to Dearborn" announcement video:
The Muslims are going to Hell, and they need to be saved by Jesus!
Which is odd, because his effort to convert Muslims in Dearborn is starting off with very little urgency. His "soul saving" plan starts off with a brunch in Allen Park, several miles south of Dearborn. Maybe he's worried about eating breakfast ham within city limits because of Sharia Law? I hope I don't have to explain that one again!
Fortunately, Dearborn is filled with great people who seem to be handling the situation with aplomb. On social media, reactions from residents have ranged from "oh God, not again!" to "let's bring him sweets and invite him to an Iftar feast!"
The truth is, Dearborn is a model for the whole world. It's a place where Muslims, Christians and Jews, gay and straight, can come together to build a better future.
If Steven Anderson came to Dearborn to listen, rather than to preach, he might actually come out of the experience a little bit wiser. Perhaps he'd even learn something about his own Christian faith. As it says in 1 John 4:8,
He that does not love has not come to know God, because God is love.
Now, can I get an AMEN to that?