In an interview with Christianity Today, GOP presidential candidate and metro Atlanta resident Herman Cain was asked about race and discrimination:
“Do people still discriminate in some small ways against certain people because of their color or their religion? Yes. But it is nowhere near where it was 235 years ago.
Whether we will ever reach that utopian level of all men created equal and all men being treated equal, I don’t know. You know, the journey in life is to strive to be better and better every day, to strive to be more Christ-like. Whether or not any of us get to the level of Christ himself, I doubt it, because we are human. You have secret thoughts, and only God and Christ knows those secret thoughts. And they may not be Christ-like.”
That’s well put. Later, however, the interviewer asks Cain about a speech he gave last month at a church in Milner, Ga., in which Cain recounted his successful battle against cancer. (A video of the speech is below; the section in question begins at the 5:00 minute mark). When he learned that his surgeon would be a Dr. Abdallah, Cain said, he initially balked. But when the physician’s assistant reassured him that “Don’t worry, he’s a (Lebanese) Christian,” Cain reports that he “felt a whole lot better.”
The interviewer uses that incident to inquire about the appropriate role for Muslims in this country:
“The role of Muslims in American society is for them to be allowed to practice their religion freely, which is part of our First Amendment. The role of Muslims in America is not to convert the rest of us to the Muslim religion. That I resent. Because we are a Judeo-Christian nation, from the fact that 85 percent of us are self-described Christians, or evangelicals, or practicing the Jewish faith. Eighty-five percent. One percent of the practicing religious believers in this country are Muslim.
And so I push back and reject them trying to convert the rest of us. And based upon the little knowledge that I have of the Muslim religion, you know, they have an objective to convert all infidels or kill them. Now, I know that there are some peaceful Muslims who don’t go around preaching or practicing that. Well, unfortunately, we can’t sit back and tolerate the radical ones simply because we know that there are some of them who don’t believe in that aspect of the Muslim religion. So their role is to be allowed to practice their religion freely, just like we should be allowed to practice our religion freely, and not try to convert the rest of us.”
“Their role is to be allowed to practice their religion freely … and not try to convert the rest of us.”
In other words, they better not get too pushy, right Mr. Cain? They better recognize their place. They can be equal, but … not THAT equal.
The remarks are particularly interesting in the context of the rest of the interview, in which Cain makes a pitch for political support from the Christian evangelical community. (Cain himself is an associate pastor at Antioch Baptist Church North in Atlanta). One of the defining characteristics of the evangelical movement is the importance it places on, well, evangelizing. You know, trying to convert the non-believing and thus save their souls. Like many in the Muslim faith, they see it as part of their religious duty.
Apparently that’s OK for Christians in this country, but not for others.
– Jay Bookman