The KKK and ISIS

The focus of this blog is predominately theological. Rarely do I delve into political topics. They are typically divisive, and often well-meaning Godly people legitimately differ on how to react to events of our day in ways that honor God. Yet I felt it necessary to make an exception given the vast array of misinformation and sloppy thinking that has accompanied recent events.

The following meme has been floating around the social media sites of late, and it’s a perfect example of how inverted thinking leads people to the wrong conclusion. The analogy goes that the KKK was a minority group who considered themselves Christians. ISIS is also a minority group that considers themselves Islamic. Since the KKK didn’t represent Christian tenets and ideals on any level, so too ISIS must not reflect Islamic theological views.

Most people read something like this, make a quick correlation, and move along. Particularly in the West where we value democracy so highly, we tend to have a social and cultural blind spot that majority opinion defines truth; that any splinter group could not truly represent the worldview that they themselves claim to uphold.

Many people spend their time invested in political arguments, attempting to thwart this misguided logic by pointing to actual numbers in order to prove a point. For example, regarding ISIS, the president of the United States said that “the overwhelming majority of Muslims reject this ideology.” [i] The exact number he threw out was 99.9%. [ii] However, thorough and respected surveys clearly show this statement to be patently false, as only 57% of Muslims, which is slightly more than half, had an unfavorable view of Al-Qaeda. [iii] But such political arguments sidestep the real issue of the different ways Jesus and Muhammad commanded their followers to behave and it is those teaching that must be explored.

It is true that the KKK uses the Bible in an attempt to justify its positions. Passages such as Exodus 33:16 and Deuteronomy 7:3 are used to condone their view forbidding interracial marriage. Obscure passages such as Genesis 9:25-26 are used to rationalize treating non-whites as inferior. They even use statements by Jesus Himself such as John 10:26-27 to promulgate anti-Semitic views. This seems quite bizarre since Jesus Himself was Jewish.

People hear this kind of talk, and often judge it based on their own internal feelings of indignation rather than seeking to understand how the Bible clearly refutes such mistaken interpretations of itself. Passages such as Galatians 3:28 clearly state there is no distinction between races. Ephesians 2:14-15 discusses how Jesus broke down the barrier between Jew and non-Jew in a way that superseded the Old Testament laws of separation. The entire chapter of Romans 11 points out the spiritual principle that Gentiles should be weary of considering themselves superior to Jews in any way whatsoever. Romans 11:17-18 specifically warns Gentiles against arrogantly assuming a higher status than Jews. Space does not allow for the inclusion of the staggering number of other passages that easily refute the Klan’s bizarre twist on Scripture. The bottom line, as stated by blogger Dianna Newman, is that

“when you turn to Christian scriptures, you don’t find Jesus telling people to lynch other people because they have more melanin in their skin.” [iv]

Yet what happens when we apply this same methodology to ISIS? The verses in the Qur’an which mandate jihad are not few and obscure. They are many and clear-cut.

[2.244] And fight in the way of Allah, and know that Allah is Hearing, Knowing.
[4.74] Therefore let those fight in the way of Allah, who sell this world’s life for the hereafter; and whoever fights in the way of Allah, then be he slain or be he victorious, We shall grant him a mighty reward.
[4.89] They desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be (all) alike; therefore take not from among them friends until they fly (their homes) in Allah’s way; but if they turn back, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper.
[8.12] When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.

There are so many other verses in the Qur’an, but time and space runs short. The issue is that these are not obscure passages taken out of context. The Hadiths make it plain that jihad is a part of being a fully practicing Muslim. In Tabari 9:69, Muhammad said “Killing unbelievers is a small matter to us.” [v] Abu Huraira also reported as follows,

It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: One who died but did not fight in the way of Allah nor did he express any desire (or determination) for Jihid died the death of a hypocrite. [vi]

There are many, many, more such passages. All of this is to say that when a comparison is made between the KKK and ISIS, what we find is that the two are exact opposites. The KKK takes the Bible out of context and uses it in a way to countermand and oppose Jesus’ actual teachings. In the case of ISIS, its members are following the teachings as plainly laid out in the Qur’an and Hadith. The KKK is not following Jesus, but ISIS is following Muhammad. The meme tries to equate these two institutions, when from a theological point of view, they couldn’t be more opposite. One doesn’t follow the religion it claims to follow; the other one does.

[ii] ibid
, p69
[vi] Sahih Muslim, Book 20, Number 4696

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