A Faithful Word

Living in the Light of God's Love

Hesham A. Hassaballa

Hesham A. Hassaballa
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
July 08
Hesham A. Hassaballa is a Chicago doctor and writer. He has written extensively on a freelance basis, being published in newspapers across the country and around the world. His articles have been distributed world wide by Agence Global as well. He has been a Beliefnet columnist since 2001, and has written for the Religion News Service. He is also a guest blogger for The Chicago Tribune. Dr. Hassaballa is author of the essay "Why I Love the Ten Commandments," published in the award-winning book Taking Back Islam (Rodale). He is also co-author of The Beliefnet Guide to Islam (Doubleday). His latest book of poetry about the Prophet Muhammad, Noble Brother, has been published by Faithful Word Press. In 2007, his blog, God, Faith, and a Pen, was nominated for a Brass Crescent Award for a blog that is "the most stimulating, insightful, and philosophical, providing the best rebuttals to extremist ideology and making an impact whenever they post."


FEBRUARY 20, 2012 6:48PM

A Very Telling Gaffe

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A gaffe by a Rick Santorum staffer says a lot. Speaking to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Monday, spokeswoman Alice Stewart said:

There is a type of theological secularism when it comes to the global warmists in this country. That’s what he was referring to. He was referring to the president’s policies in terms of the radical Islamic policies the president has.

She quickly called MSNBC after the segment and said she misspoke, actually meaning “radical environmental policies.”


Ohhhh, I see! She meant environmental rather than Islamic.


This makes me wonder about a couple of things: first, does the spokeswoman’s slip mean that – deep down – she thinks that President Obama really is a “secret Muslim”? And second, is the association between “radical” and “Islamic” so ingrained, so natural, that it can easily slip out of one’s tongue? In either case, it makes me very sad.


It makes me very sad that still, in 2012, associating President Obama with Islam is used as a smear. It recently happened at a Rick Santorum campaign event, in fact, and Senator Santorum did not correct the person making the assertion. This is wrong. It is wrong to try to smear someone by wrongly accusing them of being Muslim (or Jewish, or Christian, or any other religious faith). We should have better respect for religious faith and choice than that.


It is equally sad that the association between “radical” and “Islamic,” it seems, has indeed become so natural. Yes, the Muslim worldwide community has its radical elements: but so does every other religious community. Yes, extremists who called themselves Muslims attacked the country on 9/11: but so did extremists who were Christians in 1995 in Oklahoma City. Yes, there are Muslims who have been caught plotting terrorist attacks, but as a recent study shows, their numbers are dwindling and the threat from American Muslims has been exaggerated.


I wish religion and religious faith would be taken out of politics and the Presidential campaign. Whatever religion we choose to profess: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Mormonism, or no “-ism” at all, it should not matter. That is a personal choice, and we must all have respect for each other’s personal religious beliefs. That is what makes our country so wonderful: that we can live and work with people of all faiths in peace, harmony, and brotherhood.


It is the way that the Lord wanted us to live on earth, and so let us work to make His desire a reality.

Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/commonwordcommonlord/2012/02/a-very-telling-gaffe.html#ixzz1my7M7STD

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I was sooo right with you until the "It is the way that the Lord wanted us to live on earth, and so let us work to make His desire a reality."

Seems like you totally contradicted your point by ending your smart piece with this. You don't speak for the Lord. You don't know how he wants us to live on this earth. I don't let some religious male figure (could it ever be anything but a male?) dictate how I operate on earth. In short, you need to take the "isms" out of your own argument.

With that said, I thought you made excellent points up until that final, uh, gaffe.
I'm an atheist, so the whole idea of "the way that the Lord wanted us to live on earth" doesn't make any sense at all to me. I simply can't imagine what that means, or how anyone could pretend to know it if it were a valid concept. I have to satisfy myself that when people think God wants something, they really mean that they want it and they think that's what God would want (if he existed).

I think that America is a secular nation that should accord equal rights to all people regardless of their belief system. And I think this way makes the most sense, because it is not the business of government to decide what religious belief is correct. Every human has the greatest dignity if they have the freedom to believe as best befits their conscience.

As I understand it, a principle of Islam is that there should be no compulsion in religion (though this is contradicted by reports of people being threatened with death for apostasy).

I agree with you that it is unfortunate that calling our President a Muslim is considered to be an insult that prejudices people against him. If there were a good candidate for President who was qualified for the job, and he or she were a Muslim, I would not allow that to stop me from voting for them. I don't see a reason to prefer a Muslim to a Christian. I would probably prefer an atheist because I think this is the most rational, realistic belief that is in accord with reality. I think the President needs to have a firm grasp on reality, and not listen to imaginary voices.

But you can take heart in this: a 2007 Pew Research poll showed that 63% of Americans could not vote for an atheist to be President, while only 46% would not vote for a Muslim. You're tied with homosexuals and beating atheists by 17 percentage points.

This is at least some basis for hope.
I have to second Beth Mann. I very much appreciated your post, but the truth is this nation was founded purposely to be a secular Democratic Republic. Our founders expressly prohibited any tests of faith to hold office, and would not support any religious sect, or the rejection of religion.
Great for you to call it out.