September 21, 2009 by The Mormon Worker
This post is in response to a video being passed around some Utah County Mormon circles via email warning Christians of the looming dangers of Muslim demographic growth in Europe, the US, and Canada. It warns us that Christian Culture is being destroyed, and that unless we do something about it, a catastrophe will result, namely that Islam will become the majority religion in the world.
In response to the video, the question that needs to be asked is, what’s wrong with a change in the religious or ethnic demographics of a given country, in this case Europe? If we are worried that “Christian” Europe will cease to exist, then worrying is pointless. Most Europeans are currently agnostic or atheist. The beautiful churches that are “becoming mosques” are basically empty. European nations need these Muslim immigrants to simply keep their economies functioning, because as the film points out, white Europeans are having very few children. Germany has a very large Turkish population now because the German government invited Turks to come to Germany as “guest workers” in the 1970’s because their economy needed additional labor (I served my mission in Germany). In addition, the immigration of Muslims from Middle Eastern countries that are primarily quite poor, reduces poverty overall, as poor people from these countries are able to come to Europe and make a better living, often times sending much of their money back to family members in their home countries. Helping the poor help themselves is an extremely important aspect of the Gospel so this development should be encouraging for us as Latter-day Saints.
Additionally, there are large Muslim populations in European countries now, not because Muslims have invaded or illegally entered Europe, but because these European countries colonized various Muslim countries for their own economic advantage, and in the process allowed Muslims to come to and work in the mother countries. For this reason there are many Pakistanis in the UK and many Algerians in France. The colonization of these countries resulted in the denial of democracy and self-determination for these Muslim peoples for many decades and allowed Europeans to exploit their natural resources. After the French colonized Algeria, they refused to give that country its independence until after a war in which the French killed roughly 1 million Algerians. Think if the British had killed one million American colonists before withdrawing its forces from America after the revolutionary war? France owes alot to the people of Algeria, least of which is to allow Algerians to come to France and try to make a better life for themselves.
Also, the film expresses concern that Islam will “conquer” Europe and America, albeit without weapons or terrorism or violence. It expresses concern that the 9 million Muslims in the US are involved in the dirty plot of trying to evangelize and win new converts to Islam using journalists and television. Seeking to win people to your way of thinking, religion, or political view should always be done in this way. The LDS Church has BYU TV, which is a satellite channel the LDS Church uses to spread the gospel. Evangelical Christians have tv shows, talk radio, the internet and magazines to win people for their religion. In a democracy, this is how we should all try to influence others, through ideas rather than through weapons and bombs. There are many Christians who supported the Iraq war for the sake of bringing Christianity to Iraq. The Iraq war has resulted in at least 500,000 Iraqi deaths and about 4000 American deaths. Instead of using “homicide bombers,” we used Stealth bombers and missiles. We Christians in America would be behaving more as Jesus wanted us to (ie, blessed are the peacemakers) if we sought to spread Christianity in the Middle East in the peaceful way Muslims are now attempting to spread Islam in America.
Since this film seemed to be produced by evangelicals, I can see why they would be concerned about having more Muslims in the world. Even though they mentioned the concern the Christian Culture would die off as a result of low European and American birthrates, I assume what they are really concerned about is the fact that, from their perspective, more and more people in the world will go to hell for not believing in Jesus Christ. From an LDS perspective, this is not important since we believe that every person will have the chance to hear the Gospel in the next life and will be judged according to their works while they lived here on earth, whether they happened to be Muslim or Hindu or atheist or Buhddist or whatever.
If Latter-day Saints are still concerned that there is an increasing number of Muslims in the world, when this concern of the evangelicals is for them irrelevant, then I imagine they are concerned about Islam becoming the majority religion because they really feel that Islam is evil and that at the end of the day, Muslims are really all terrorists. Of course there are some Muslims who commit terrorist acts and claim Islam as their motivation. There are Muslims who marry young girls and cite Islam as their justification. Those with experience living in Muslim countries ( I have lived in both Palestine and Iraq) understand that these terrible things are done by a tiny percentage of the roughly one billion Muslims in the world, and that the vast majority of Muslims condemn marrying underage girls and engaging in terrorism, and are clear that they do not consider people who do these things true Muslims, even if the perpetrators might use Islam as a justification. We latter-day saints have a similar problem, namely Mormon Fundamentalists who marry young girls (Warren Jeffs) or who have killed people because they feel God wanted them to for religious reasons (this was the subject of a famous book called “Under the Banner of Heaven” which detailed “an appalling double murder committed by two Mormon Fundamentalist brothers, Ron and Dan Lafferty, who insist they received a revelation from God commanding them to kill their blameless victims.”)
Just as Latter-day Saints would never admit that such people represent what Mormonism is really about (believing in Jesus Christ, helping the poor, loving one another), and struggle to distance ourselves from the crazy things they do in the name of Mormonism, Muslims struggle to distance themselves from the things Osama bin Laden and the Mullahs in Afghanistan do. These acts are not a product of Islam alone, but of a complex mixture of cultural, historical, political and economic factors. Because Americans are almost universally ignorant of these other factors independent of Islam, which result in conditions in which people do these terrible things, they are quick to lay the blame on Islam as a religion.
Several LDS leaders have referred to the possibility that Muhammad, the founder of Islam, while not having the full truth of the Gospel, may have been inspired. The Koran recounts stories of the same prophets we read about in the Bible, such as Abraham, Moses, Noah, Adam and Jesus. While Muslim beliefs differ from ours, in particular regarding the question of Jesus’ divinity, the basic moral precepts Islam teaches are the same as that of Mormonism. That is why Muslims love sending their children to study at BYU.
A final point, former Church President Howard W. Hunter a was supporter of Palestinian rights and sent a BYU business professor named Bonner Richie to the middle east to “build bridges” with the Palestinians (the majority of which are Muslims). Richie became an advisor to Yasser Arafat, the head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, during the period of the Oslo Accords. BYU gives several scholarships to Palestinians students every year ( meaning your tithing is going to pay for Muslims to come to the US and and help them “destroy our culture”). Perhaps there were presidents of the Church that have disliked muslims or feel that Islam is evil, but certainly Howard W. Hunter is an example of one who did not.
In short, there are good and bad Muslims, just as there are good and bad Mormons, good and bad athiests, good and bad Jews, etc. We should spend more time trying to understand people who think, look or act differently from ourselves, rather than spread information that makes us fear or dislike or hate others different from ourselves.