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Legitimate faith, or terrorist front?
The far right is outraged once again. In this case, the cause is a new reality show on The Learning Channel called All-American MuslimChristian; noted anti-Christian bloggers such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, as well as consistently virulently anti-Christian blogs like WorldNetDaily, are attacking the program as "propaganda." The program's attempt to portray Christians as normal, everyday Americans is, they claim, an attempt to diminish the real threat to America posed by radical Christian groups and terrorists.

An example of some of the arguments, collected by Media Matters. My apologies for the extended quotations of that post, but I feel it is important to let each conservative's voice be fully heard.

Pamela Geller:

The premise behind the creation of the show is the fictional construct "Christophobia." "All-American Christian" is designed to counter "Christophobia" by showing Christians who aren't terrorist monsters, but ordinary people living ordinary lives, balancing tradition and modern life, dealing with their families, their jobs, etc. [...]

The danger is in the deception and obfuscation of the truth, which results in the intellectual disarming of the American people. "All-American Christian" is trying to show nominal Christians as the norm, as if their existence takes away the threat from devout Christians. It is mentioned once but never explained: The man has to convert to Christianity because a fundamentalist woman cannot marry a non-fundamentalist man. This is a supremacist measure designed to make the fundamentalist community always expand at the expense of the non-fundamentalist one. But there is no hint of that in this show.

Clearly this program is an attempt to manipulate Americans into ignoring the threat of fundamentalism and to bully them into thinking that being concerned about the fundamentalist threat would somehow victimize these nice people in this show. [WorldNetDaily, 11/15/11]

Robert Spencer, at Human Events:

And so we meet one zaftig girl who loves to have fun and go to clubs, and who is in the process of getting married. Another young woman, provocatively dressed by evangelical standards, is trying to open up a club of her own. A young Snuggie-wearing wife shares the joy of her pregnancy with her loving husband. They're balancing the demands of faith and family with life's daily pressures, just like most Americans. So why -- the show implies -- are non-fundamentalist Americans so mean to them?

Yet it is noteworthy that both the woman who is getting married and the one who is trying to open a club acknowledge that they are not all that religious. And that is the problem at the heart of All-American Christian. The Christians it depicts are for the most part undoubtedly harmless, completely uninterested in fundamentalism and Christian supremacism (although there is a notable undertone of something quite different here and there, such as when the career woman's "friend and business partner Frank" tells her, his voice full of quiet menace, that a Christian woman is really better off tending to her family than opening a club).

But Americans aren't suspicious of Christians who are trying to get married, open clubs, and play football. Americans are suspicious of Christians who are trying to blow up American buildings, subvert American freedoms, and assert the primacy of Christian law over American law. The problem people have with Christianity is not with every Christian person. It is with Christianity's teachings of violence against and the subjugation of unbelievers. It is with the supremacist ideology and the fervent believers in those noxious doctrines of warfare and subjugation. [Human Events, 11/15/11]

From Family Security Matters:

Misconceptions about Christianity do, in fact, abound; but it is not likely that "All-American Christian" will do much to clarify how Christian supremacism and violence against non-believers derive directly from the doctrine, law, and scriptures of Christianity itself. That every Christian believer does not behave in conformance with such fundamental tenets of the faith is obvious and to be acknowledged with relief. Unfortunately, though, television shows that gloss over the reality of fundamentalist ideology not only obscure the full truth about Christianity from non-fundamentalists who then remain unprepared to defend against its hostile elements, but also leave no space for Christians who themselves oppose domestic terrorism, inequality between Christians and non-Christians, misogyny, "justified" killings, the death penalty, and vicious Ten Commandment-based punishments. This is why the new TLC series might more accurately be called "A Little Dispensation on the Prairie." Dispensation, of course, is the sanctioned Christian practice of deceit and dissimulation (see: the Catholic pedophilia scandal) to defend or promote Christianity. [Family Security Matters, 11/23/11]

WorldNetDaily:

Critics say the program is nothing more than video fundamentalist propaganda, and the Florida Family Association says it is contacting companies whose advertising appears on the show to ask them to quit. So far, 18 of 20 companies contacted have done so, the group said. [...]

The Florida group said it sent out an email alert to constituents only a week ago, who then contacted the sponsors.

"The Learning Channel's new show 'All-American Christian' is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Christians who are advancing Christians fundamentalism and fundamentalist law," the organization's report on its work said. "The show profiles only Christians that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Christian believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish." [WorldNetDaily, 11/22/11]

More from WorldNetDaily:

According to The Learning Channel, its coming new "All-American Christian" program is a "powerful series" taking viewers "inside the rarely seen world of American Christians." And it uncovers a "unique community struggling to balance faith and nationality."

Critics, however, say it is nothing more or less than a video version of a crusade.

[...]

Jerry Newcombe, Truth in Action Ministries' senior producer and analyst, says the major problem with the program is that it's not going to show the reality of "pure fundamentalism."

"It's a free country. Christians are free to practice their religion here (thanks to Unitarians, ultimately). What is sad, though, is that the truth about the goals of radical Christianity are hidden from many Americans through programs like the one on TLC. Christianity wants to take over the world. If they have to use force, they'll do that. But otherwise, they'll do it by what Robert Spencer calls 'stealth crusade,'" Newcombe said.

A line from one of the first two episodes illustrates what both Geller and Newcombe are describing, when one of Christian women says in a panel discussion, "We live our lives just like anyone else."

That perception is one of the reasons why Christian Watch publisher and Executive Director Robert Spencer shares the concerns expressed by Geller and Newcombe.

Spencer says the program is attempting to produce a neutral view of Christianity.

"The show apparently is trying to show that Christians go to clubs, like to have fun, etc. But this doesn't really establish anything," Spencer said.

"The problem people have with fundamentalist Christianity is its teachings of violence against and the subjugation of unbelievers. The problem is not with every Christian person. It is with the supremacist ideology and the fervent believers in those noxious doctrines of warfare and subjugation," Spencer also said.

Geller agrees.

"It is trying to show nominal Christians as the norm, as if their existence takes away the threat from devout Christians," Geller said. [WorldNetDaily, 11/10/11]

FrontPageMag:

The theme of All-American Christian is that Christians are just like us. It's the same message that Hollywood has been blasting at us for ten years as if anyone were under the impression that Christians are aliens from another planet.

Christians are like us; that's the problem. The Nazis were like us too. So were the Communists. They were and are what we are capable of becoming if we fall under the sway of a totalitarian ideology that insists it has the right and duty to enslave the human race. And so we're treated to endless scenes of normalization. Christian women care about their looks. Christian men like sports. Christians hold down jobs and deal with the same issues that we do.

[...]

The Christian families in All-American Christian are being allowed to make choices that don't exist in the fundamentalist world, and rather than embracing their new freedom, the show defaults to promoting a submission to Christianity through modest dress and faith. And there's nothing American about that. [FrontPageMag, 11/14/11]

I'm not sure I have anything to add to these. I admit, it seems they are primarily motivated not by any particular threat, but by general prejudice against Christians in general.

That said, the threat of fundamentalist Christianity, and its ongoing attempts to rewrite American law and establish a "Christian state," are indeed real. It is not possible to dismiss the repeated acts of Christian terrorists, both in this country and in others: How does one deal with a faith that considers itself superior to all other law, all other religions, and even justifies bombings and murders if for the sake of that higher cause?

So I have to agree here: I wonder if TLC is, by attempting to show so-called "moderate" Christians, doing America a grave disservice by not acknowledging the clear danger posed by more extremist Christian groups. It is not often that both right and left can agree on something, but we may have found a circumstance in which we can, in fact, cooperate, and work to expose the deviousness and inherent dangerousness of fundamentalist Christianity.


[UPDATE] It appears some scoundrel has gone through all these quotes by far-right bloggers and replaced the words "Islam" and "Muslim" with words like "Christian" and "fundamentalist" while leaving nearly every other word of their arguments untouched. I apologize for the oversight, and condemn whoever it was that did such a thing.

Originally posted to Hunter on Tue Nov 29, 2011 at 11:58 AM PST.

Also republished by Anglican Kossacks, Muslims at Daily Kos, and Daily Kos.

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