Islamophobia: What Christians Should Know (and Do) about Anti-Muslim Discrimination

Islamophobia: What Christians Should Know (and Do) about Anti-Muslim Discrimination

Arson and vandalism at houses of worship. Bullying at schools and harassment at the grocery store. Political scapegoating and institutionalized discrimination.

Muslims in the United States--and beyond--have faced Islamophobia in a range of forms.

Jordan Denari Duffner in her ground-breaking book, ‘Islamophobia: What Christians Should Know (and Do) about Anti-Muslim Discrimination,’ argues that Christians should be at the forefront of efforts to end the prejudice, discrimination, and violence, that Muslims face.

Jordan Denari Duffner is a doctoral student in theology and religious studies at Georgetown University and an associate and former research fellow at the Bridge Initiative, a research project of Georgetown University’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.

A 2013 Fulbright scholar, she is author of Finding Jesus among Muslims: How Loving Islam Makes Me a Better Catholic (Liturgical Press) and many articles in print and online media, including The Washington Post, America, and Commonweal.

Writing for Christians of all denominations, Jordan Denari Duffner offers an introduction to Islamophobia, discusses the unfortunate ways that Christians have contributed to it, and offers practical steps for standing in solidarity with Muslims

“This problem of prejudice and discrimination against Muslims has been a longstanding one. Many of us can remember the aftermath of the September 11th attacks when Muslims were increasingly targeted through hate crimes and government actions,” Duffner said in an interview with publisher Orbis Books.

“The problem precedes that. In the book I talk about all the different facets of Islamophobia and what we Christians can and should do about that.”

“Many of these stereotypes and prejudices we take for granted. These notions about Muslims - that they are inherently violent lead to harmful actions, they lead to harmful policies. I draw attention in the book to the impact this has on Muslims.”

Viewing Islamophobia as both a social justice and a religious freedom issue, Duffner makes the case that Christian faith calls us to combat religious discrimination even when it is not directed toward our own faith community.

She weaves together insights from Catholic social teaching, examples from Protestant leaders, and expertise from Muslim scholars and activists, resulting in a compelling book that will be of interest to academic and lay audiences alike.

“One of the things that really troubles me are the ways that priests in my community have absorbed misinformation from the Islamophobia network and normalized that understanding of Islam in our Catholic community,” Duffner said.

A key way to counteract the Islamophobia industry’s targeting of Christians, she emphasized, is to make sure seminarians and faith leaders are exposed to accurate information about Islam and—critically—are encouraged to forge real human connections with Muslims.

On both a theological and practical front, Christianity and Islamophobia are incompatible, Duffner argued.

“Contemporary Islamophobia resembles the anti-Catholic bigotry that my ancestors would have faced a few generations ago,” she pointed out. “Sometimes people in my own community forget the ways that we were once scapegoated. Were we to recognize that, it would be easier for us to recognize the scapegoating of Muslims that’s going on today.”