“…much work needs to be done by Muslims”

This letter to the editor, which ran in The New York Times on Monday (9/13), really got me thinking:

Re “American Muslims Ask, Will We Ever Belong?” (front page, Sept. 6):

To the Editor:

The current ambivalence toward Muslims is fueled by xenophobic tendencies that arise in times of economic and political turmoil. As an American Muslim, I am not afraid of extremists who thrive on hatred of the other. No amount of threatened book burnings can destroy the faith of a people.

The current hysteria reflects how much work needs to be done by Muslims to prove that we really do belong.

Imran Contractor
Valley Stream, N.Y., Sept. 6, 2010

Did you get that? “…how much work needs to be done BY MUSLIMS” !

In the days surrounding 9/11 this year, there were lots of articles reporting on local interfaith discussions as well as published statements by groups of clergy in support of religious tolerance. In each of these, I looked for my church among those named by the mainstream media and in the blogosphere — but didn’t find us mentioned anywhere.

Now, I know for a fact that Christian Scientists regularly participate in interfaith groups throughout the state. There are plenty of Christian Scientists working shoulder-to-shoulder with other faith groups on all kinds of issues of both local and international importance.

However, if Christian Scientists are not routinely mentioned in reports on interfaith discussions, what does that say? Perhaps, as our Muslim friend writes, it’s an indication of how much work needs to be done BY CHRISTIAN SCIENTISTS. (And that includes me.)

One area where this is apparent is the question of health care legislation. On the one hand, some Christian Scientists have voiced concern that Christian Science and its long history of effective healing are being ignored or belittled by the media and our legislators. On the other hand, some individuals in positions of authority have questioned why prayer should be considered health care. This says to me that much work needs to be done by Christian Scientists to educate our legislators and the public regarding the safety and practicality of including spiritual care as part of federal health care legislation.

I’m grateful to report here that much work is being done — daily, diligently — by Christian Scientists throughout the United States, including here in New York State. Christian Scientists are meeting with legislators and others involved to educate them — which, in some cases, means introducing them to Christian Science healing and the efficacy of prayer as an active system of health care, available to everyone. In these meetings and follow-up correspondence, we are requesting that any health care legislation enacted include an individual’s right to choose his or her own preferred health care method — including spiritual care through Christian Science treatment.

Yes, much work needs to be done by Christian Scientists — and this work is being done, and must continue to be done, every day.

Like our Muslim brethren, Christian Scientists want to be included — we want to feel we “belong” when laws are passed that affect our well-being and freedom of choice. A sense of belonging derives from mutual respect, and mutual respect is a two-way street. It involves a willingness to share your beliefs with conviction and an equal willingness to listen and engage in conversation.

This goal of mutual respect is one we all share, as Americans, regardless of religious affiliation. So yes, more work needs to be done — by us all.

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One Response to “…much work needs to be done by Muslims”

  1. Linda Reesman says:

    We all have a need to identify with a group or religion that is familiar to us. There is a comfort in familiarity; however, this should not prevent us but encourage us to embrace these individual rights while keeping in mind that we are still part of one humanity.

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