A Texas pastor involved in building Christian-Muslim dialogue at a high level has warned that American Christians being hateful and unwelcoming toward Muslims is only fueling the persecution of Christians in Muslim-majority countries.
Dr. Bob Roberts, the senior pastor of Northwood Church in Texas, told The Christian Post in an interview that he is "very concerned" about Christian-Muslim relations in America. Roberts had joined some 200 Muslim leaders in Morocco to write a 750-word document protecting the freedom of religious minorities in predominantly Muslim countries in January.
Roberts points to LifeWay Research surveys that show that in America, the people with the most negative view of Muslims are Evangelicals, which he says is a contradiction with what it means to be an Evangelical.
"The idea of an Evangelical is that we want the whole world to hear the news of Jesus, yet we have the most negative attitude. And people with an even worse attitude than [such people] are the pastors of those churches," he said.
"To me, that shows the condition of a heart toward loving our neighbor. It's not just bad for us, we are creating a nightmare for Christians around the world."
The pastor said that Americans sometimes think they are global because they go on vacations or take mission trips around the world, but reality shows otherwise.
"We live in a country that has two oceans on both sides, and we are very isolated from the rest of the world. We go into the world, do our thing and come home, often without truly seeing the world."
Roberts warned that some statements coming out of America make life hard for other Christians around the world.
"When Christians make harsh statements against the Muslims around the world, it just makes things far more difficult. Christians actually increase Christian persecution around the world in America by being hateful to Muslims. And those are your brothers in Christ. The world is connected," he asserted.
Some of Roberts' efforts in building relationships with Muslims include hosting the Spreading the Peace Convocation in October 2015 alongside Imam Muhammad Magid, the executive director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, which brought together close to 200 imams and Evangelical pastors for dialogue.
Roberts told CP that once Muslims and Christians get to know one another, "the tension and fear come down" and people begin to watch out for one another.
In January, he attended the major gathering of close to 250 Muslim religious leaders and government representatives in Marrakesh, Morocco, which led to the signing of the Marrakesh Declaration, a document seeking to defend the rights of Christians and other religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries.
January's Declaration recognized that religious freedom conditions in various parts of the Muslim World have been deteriorating; it called upon Muslims to be inclusive of diverse groups, and to "confront all forms of religious bigotry, vilification, and denegration of what people hold sacred, as well as all speech that promote hatred and bigotry," among other statements.
It was signed by notable figures such as Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, who organized the event alongside the Ministry of Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco. Participants also included the Great Imam of Mecca, the Minister of Religion from Pakistan, and Grand Muftis from all over the world.