Is President Trump a Christian, or should he be? Is he attacking Muslims as a religion with his travel ban on people from certain countries? Can Christians and Muslims co-exist peacefully?
Many Americans say church and state should remain separate, and they offer some good reasons. As a Christian, my faith is a lifestyle, a major part of who I am. My faith affects the way I think and the way I live. In that vein, “church” and “state” cannot be separated, unless I don’t participate in our democracy in any way, including voting.
So, where to draw the line?
Co-exist: Yes and no
Can Christians and Muslims co-exist? Let’s start there.
The answer depends on what you mean by co-exist.
If we mean that we can respect each other’s views and beliefs even if we disagree, then yes, we can co-exist peacefully. Our co-workers, parents we meet at our children’s schools, people we meet at athletic contests, people we volunteer with, the waitress at the restaurant … we meet people outside of our religious boundaries all the time. Can we get along?
We certainly should.
But if co-exist means Christians and Muslims (and people of other faiths) worship the same God, then no – we do not and cannot co-exist. The sacred writings of both faiths prove this.
More on that in a minute.
Church and state
But first, let’s discuss whether “church” and “state” should co-exist.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …
Amendment I, The Constitution of the United States of America
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted …
Declaration of Independence
I had a lengthy Facebook discussion with a former co-worker awhile ago about this. We did not agree, because he and I do not have the same “supreme authority” in our lives. His primary focus is on the United States. Mine is on God. They are not the same.
Congress – and by extension, in my opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court also – are not allowed to restrict any religion in any way. So, if President Trump is trying to restrict Muslims as a faith-based people from entering this country, the First Amendment does not allow him to do that.
The Declaration of Independence does assume a Creator. But different faiths worship different Creators, so we need to keep this discussion general, politically speaking.
Faith and violence
Trump says he is targeting terrorists, not an entire religion. Terrorists around the world and in the United States have claimed allegiance to the Islamic God during their terrorist acts. Is Trump’s response a knee-jerk reaction that goes too far?
Therefore, when you meet the Unbelievers (in fight), strike at their necks; at length, when you have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them); thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom; until the war lays down its burdens.
I imagine not all Muslims read the Qur’an literally, just as not all Christians read the Bible literally. And yet, these words are in the Qur’an. Fighting words against any who oppose “God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.”
Are there such fighting words in the Christian Bible? Yes, there are. Here’s an example:
As soon as (Joshua) stretched out his hand, the troops in ambush rose quickly out of their place and rushed forward. They entered the city, took it, and at once set the city on fire. So when the men of Ai looked back, the smoke of the city was rising to the sky … When Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city and that the smoke of the city was rising, then they turned back and struck down the men of Ai … until no one was left who survived or escaped.
The Bible, Joshua 8:19-22
Why would the Christian God order Joshua and his troops to obliterate an entire city – men, women and children? Because they worshiped pagan gods, and the God of Israel did not want his people to get distracted by teachings of false gods.
This is what the book of Joshua is all about. Israel did not follow directions, and the book of Judges describes the consequences in detail.
According to the Qur’an and the Bible, then, these religions cannot co-exist. Both worship a jealous God.
In blasphemy indeed are those that say that God is Christ the son of Mary …
They say: “(God) Most Gracious has begotten a son!”
Indeed you have put forth a thing most monstrous! …
That they should invoke a son for (God) Most Gracious.
For it is not consonant with the majesty of (God) Most Gracious that He should beget a son.
Qur’an, 19:88-89, 91-92
Jesus said to (Thomas), “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
The Bible, John 14:6-7
Muslims and Christians cannot worship together, obviously.
Can they live together peacefully?
That depends on how passionate we are about our faiths – and also how passionate we are as Americans. Do we serve the U.S. Constitution, which allows for free expression of all faiths, or do we serve our God, who is a jealous God and who ultimately will judge everyone – everyone – outside the faith?
This is why the current debate is so hot, with no resolution in sight.
Cultures and faith clash. Do our faiths allow us to get along with each other?
Faith and America
This is why many Americans reject Christianity (and Islam as well, I imagine). God forces us to take sides.
Both faiths have a peaceful side as well. After all, no one can “convert” dead people. Both faiths have to give others a reason to follow their God.
The U.S. Constitution is a wonderful document. One of the reasons the Pilgrims reached our shores was to worship freely the way they wanted to.
Are we at a crossroads now? Are we truly willing to accept “Congress shall make no law …” or has that been eroding over time, and Trump has brought the debate front and center?
Should God provide justice, or should we do it for Him?
I saw a guy wearing a T-shirt the other day that said, “No one is my judge.” Again, it depends. I cannot judge your faith. That’s God’s job. But if you molest a child or run a red light, we have laws in this country about those things, and the U.S. court system very much can judge you for them.
I wish we could leave it at that.
A couple of other perspectives:
The Qur’an and U.S. Constitution cannot co-exist:
Christians and Muslims can get along: