To the editor:
I believe in the teachable moment, but I’m not sure Mr. Chuck Smith is much in the learning mode when it comes to his prejudice toward Muslims (“Liberal letter writer’s accusations are ‘trash,’” Nov. 16).
When responding to my criticism of his shared belief with Dr. Ben Carson that “a Muslim would be unfit” to be president, he, in essence, doubled-down on that ideology. Rejecting my comments as an “ultraliberal,” Mr. Smith seems, nonetheless, to be bothered that I would question the notion that his stated opinion is creedalist and Islamophobic. What else would he call it?
When Mr. Smith applies a religious test to the holding of public office, or worse, when he admonishes Muslims to learn the Ten Commandments (implying a moral/theological inferiority to those who don’t subscribe to an Old Testament formula for tribal law), that is creedalism. Inherent also in that thinking is the notion that our nation would be undermined by a Muslim commander-in-chief. That is Islamophobic. There is simply no way to describe such irrational statements — that continue to be advocated by Mr. Smith — as anything other than bigotry.
When I referred to Mr. Smith’s religious expressions, I put the word “Christian” in quotes. I did this because I have never found an example of Jesus’ teaching that would advocate prejudicial treatment to others based on a faith different than his own. In fact, the story of his conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well argues just the opposite. I don’t question the sincerity of Mr. Smith’s beliefs. He has expressed them clearly, and he is certainly entitled to them. But I do question whether or not what he calls Christianity is in keeping with what Jesus actually tried to teach us to do.
Of course, I have no way of knowing what is in Mr. Smith’s heart except by the words he has so often committed to print. He says several theologians have told him about his faith, “Don’t talk about it, live it.” Perhaps he might consider taking their advice when it comes to Muslims and his notion of the role of religion in politics.
I, for one, would welcome the silence.