Evangelicals Should Avoid 'Muslim-Baiting,' Says Professor

WASHINGTON – An evangelical professor who was part of a summit on foreign policy held at Georgetown University believes that evangelicals should avoid "Muslim-baiting."

David Gushee, founder of the organization Evangelicals for Human Rights and professor at Mercer University, told The Christian Post that evangelicals should not participate in projects like the anti-Muhammad film that sparked violent protests in the Middle East.

"We certainly need to have no participation in what you might call 'Muslim-baiting.' If we know that attacks on the character of the prophet Muhammad evoke predictably violent reactions, it's just foolish and unwise and immoral," said Gushee.

"You want to avoid such things from happening and we need to quarantine out of our community this kind of Muslim-baiting that is happening on our fringes."

Gushee also told CP that the violence by reactionary Islamic mobs in Libya and Egypt should never be considered justified in their actions.

"We also need to say that random killings of westerners or Americans or Christians because some foolish person somewhere made a film about Muhammad are wrong too," he said. "Outbursts of randomly directed violence against people who were not involved with the provocation are unjustifiable and must be condemned."

Gushee's remarks come on a day where he was part of a panel at an event focused on evangelicals seeking more peaceful solutions for global problems.

Titled "Evangelicals for Peace: A Summit on Christian Moral Responsibility in the 21st Century," the two-day event included several panels and opportunities for networking.

Rick Love, president of Peace Catalyst International, gave the opening remarks for the second day of events, which was on Friday.

"Evangelicals for Peace is going to be a graduate seminar on peacemaking, it's going to be a rich, rigorous time of thinking and reflection," said Love.

In addition to Gushee, the first panel for the day included Lisa Sharon Harper, director of Mobilizing for Sojourners and the founding executive director for the organization New York Faith & Justice; Geoff Tunnicliffe, CEO of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA); and Kate Gould, lead lobbyist on Middle East Policy Issues for the pacifists Quaker group Friends Committee on National Legislation.

"My office is on the 21st floor of the building that directly oversees Ground Zero. Every day as I look out that window, I am reminded why this initiative is so very important," said Tunnicliffe before those gathered at Copley Hall.

"Sisters and brothers it is a great joy to be here at this inaugural gathering of Evangelicals for Peace. I want to commend you for your participation and your engagement about this critical issue."

In his presentation, Gushee focused on the American military budget and how it should be reduced. He did not endorse pacifism, as he believed the state had an obligation to defend its citizens.

Gushee told CP that he believed evangelicals have not been deeply involved on foreign policy issues, opting instead to focus more on social issues.

"From my perspective, what I am saying is let's begin the conversation. Let's ask what are the legitimate national security goals of the United States," he commented. "One way that is being framed is more protecting the territorial integrity of the United States instead of attempting to make the world to come out the way we want it to come out."



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