I’ve got to hand it to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo: it takes a lot of courage to invite an imam to offer an opening prayer anywhere in Deepinnaharta Texas, especially if you have a Facebook page, as the Star-Telegram reports:
A sampling of the sentiments expressed:
“I just will choose NOT to go somewhere that embraces a religion that wants me, my family and my people DEAD.”
“Muslim/Islam has no place in this country let alone fwssr. Not one Muslim has come out against the radical actions that is the Muslim belief. PERIOD. COWBOYS DON’T WANT IT.”
“This really disappoints me in the FWSSR! Sad to see such a Texas & American institution fall in the gutter of political correctness.”
“Islam is against all other religions and I for one won’t attend an event that allows a darkness to be spoke over me!”
That second comment is just so classy, isn’t it? Not one Muslim has ever come out against radical Islam—assuming, of course, we don’t count the leading Islamic organizations in the United States and the overwhelming majority of non-radicalized Muslims world-wide. Apart from that, no, not one Muslim.
I like that last one, too. “Islam is against all other religions.” And Christianity isn’t?
You’d never know from comments like this how loudly they yell whenever anyone suggests that Christian prayers might be inappropriate at public, non-religious gatherings like a stock show and rodeo. In fact, the FWSSR has been having public prayers for years with nary a peep of protest. But give the same platform to someone else’s religion, and boy howdy.
The problem is that Christianity is very much against all other religions, and wants to shut them out entirely. Part of that is Christian privilege, of course: Christians want to be the dominant group and to keep all the perks and privileges for themselves. But I think another reason Christianity is so intolerant of true religious liberty is because other religions are indeed a serious threat to Christian faith.
The problem is that Christianity is a story. You work hard to convince yourself that it’s true, and you do all the work to make things happen so you can give God credit for doing them, and you’re careful to always superstitiously attribute things to God whether they turn out better or worse than you had hoped, and in the end the only reward you get for all your labor is the privilege of believing that your story is true. It works, but it’s a pretty fragile system.
That’s why Christianity is such a high-maintenance religion, and why believers are required to return to church every Sunday (plus mid-week prayer and Bible study, plus daily devotionals and “prayer without ceasing”). You need the support and encouragement of your fellow believers to motivate you to keep doing the work required to keep convincing yourself that your beliefs are true.
You don’t put that kind of effort into believing that other religions are true, of course, and that means it’s a lot easier to see how foolish it is to believe things on the basis of legends and superstition. You can see that other people’s beliefs are silly at best, and possibly downright malignant, because you see them without the dedicated lifelong support mechanisms you supply for your own religion. You see religion for the fraud that it is, because it’s someone else’s.
And yet you yourself are doing the same things they are.
The specific doctrinal details vary, of course, but the core mechanisms of belief—the superstition, the rigged score-keeping, the appeals to authority and tradition, and so on—are the same. And they lead people into believing things that are not true. Just like your own religion does.
Small wonder, then, that Christians are so keen on maintaining their unique privilege and platform. It’s not just greed. It’s self-defense.