Gary Cass, Islamophoia, and the Need to Change


Have you ever had a moment of intense anger because someone, somewhere, said something really stupid and hateful? Only to track back and realize that you’re not all that different from them? Or, at the very least, were once like them?

I had that moment yesterday.

Gary Cass is a semi-known, politically active preacher in the United States. The list of issues he tackles range from abortion, traditional marriage, Christian education in schools, christian liberty, and ensuring christians are legally defended when they feel persecuted. In other words he’s a typical, evangelical, right winger with a heavy emphasis on Christendom.

(Christendom is the notion that Christian ideas; values; and even the religion itself, should be at the forefront of each state. It’s adherents believe that the separation of church and state is a farce and should work in tandem to bring Christ’s Kingdom, on Earth.)

My feelings about Cass are less than favorable to say the least. He’s “that” guy. You know…the one whose picture you hold up to 1 Corinthians 13:1 and say to yourself “Yep. He’s THAT guy.” To which he would reply with something like, “I am speaking the truth; and the truth is loving!” Causing my forehead to burn with the intensity of a thousand suns as I face palm eternally.

One of those moments happened yesterday when I read a post from Gary Cass featured on CharismaNews (since retracted). In it, he declared himself a proud Islamophobe. Calling upon the history of extremists abroad, he lists only three possible solutions: 1. Convert, 2. Deport, 3. or Kill. But according to Cass:

“The only thing that is biblical and that 1400 years of history has shown to work is overwhelming Christian just war and overwhelming self defense. Christian Generals Charles Martel in 732 and Jon Sobieski in 1672 defeated Islamic Turks and their attempts to take the West. Who will God raise up to save us this time? Will God even intervene or turn us over to the Muslims for turning against Him?”

He continues:

This is not irrational, but the loving thing we must do for our children and neighbors. First trust in God, then obtain a gun(s), learn to shoot, teach your kids the Christian doctrines of just war and self defense, create small cells of family and friends that you can rely on if some thing catastrophic happens and civil society suddenly melts down.

He’s wrong, of course, and for several reasons; but this post isn’t about Gary Cass. There will be lots of blogs written about the man and I’ve really nothing of value to add in that department. Rather, this is about turning his words back to those who obviously disagree with him:

What have we done, as Christians, to love Muslims?

Sometimes I wonder when the “us versus them” mentality will finally catch up with me. I’m so prone to shield myself from what I don’t understand; and I know I am not alone. The reason I know this is because my comfort, in relation to Muslims, isn’t that I trust God: it’s that I am surrounded by people who similarly do not trust, understand, or love Muslims.

But there are so many people I don’t understand…so many people I don’t love. How are we so different from the Gary Cass’ of the world? Of course few are as bombastic as he. Nor do many of us aspire to see Muslims forcefully converted at the barrel of a gun. But do we know the way forward with our Muslim neighbors? I’m not sure I do; especially as I sit here in the comfort of student housing of a seminary. What I do know is this: I must change. My heart must soften or it will find itself in a state all too similar to Gary Cass’.