(Photo credit: Patrick McMullan)
In response to the continuing pedophilia epidemic which has rocked the Catholic Church around the world for decades, let us imagine that there was a high-profile former prime minister of a prominent country who went on-the-record to state that this pedophilia epidemic somehow shows the world that there was an inherent “problem within Christianity.”
How do you think that most Christians around the world would react to this kind of blanket statement about their religion?
I think it would be pretty fair to say that over 99.9 percent of the world’s Christian community would be quite offended that a former prime minister of a major world power would have the audacity to blame their entire religion for the acts of a miniscule minority of people who may happen to share that same faith.
But this is exactly what happened recently with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and statements that he made about the religion of Islam.
According to The Washington Post, it was reported that former British prime minister Tony Blair recently wrote in the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper about what he said was “a problem within Islam” that must be faced in the aftermath of the gruesome public slaying in London of a British soldier named Lee Rigby by men reportedly claimed to be “avenging” the deaths of Muslims.
Wait a minute, Mr. Prime Minister.
Yes, there are certainly major problems with Christian, Jewish and Muslim people around the world today, but these problems are not with the religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. This sort of blanket reductionism is like blaming Catholicism as a religion for the pedophilia epidemic and not the criminals committing these acts. As such, these statements by Mr. Blair are not fitting for a respected major world leader who has dedicated his post-political life to interfaith work around the world.
This whole Tony Blair episode reminds me of a recent CNN interview that I did after the Boston Marathon bombings where I stated quite unequivocally that:
“Islamic extremists are about as ‘Muslim’ as the Westboro Baptist Church is ‘Christian’.”
The reason that I will always sincerely believe this sentiment is because since there is literally no religion on earth that condones illegal murder as part of its basic teachings, it would behoove our major world leaders (especially those dedicated to interfaith work) to not fall into the trap of casting simplistic blanket aspersions against other major world religions for the acts of a crazy minority of their “believers.”
Because if we continue to blame the religions and not the flawed believers, then we will be needlessly falling into the trap that the extremists have laid out there for the rest of us.
Arsalan Iftikhar is founder of TheMuslimGuy.com, senior editor for The Islamic Monthly magazine and author of the book “Islamic Pacifism: Global Muslims in the Post-Osama Era.“