Judeo-Christian Values
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Judeo-Christian Values

Phrasing matters

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Judeo-Christian Values
Constitution Center

I can't tell you how many times I've heard the phrase 'Judeo-Christian'. It's been used in reference to a lot of things, but more recently, I've been hearing it in terms of the values upon which this country is based. It's an irksome phrase to hear in all honestly, like a fly constantly buzzing around your face. Perhaps I have a fundamental misunderstanding of the phrase, perhaps people are using it incorrectly. All I know is that as a Muslim, it bothers me when I hear 'Judeo-Christian' paired with 'values'. As the final three of the Abrahamic religions I fail to see how my core values are different from Jewish or Christian values. At the very heart of it, all three religions hold similar connections. Islam is viewed by Muslims as the end point of a timeline, developing and growing out of Judaism and Christianity. Let me assure you that I'm not here to argue theology; that's not the point of this article. Rather, I'd like to point out my frustrations with the consistent Other-ing of myself, my religion, and my values. I have various thoughts on where the disconnect comes from that I'd really prefer not to get into, but I'd like to pose this question: if all three religions trace back to God that created the world and sent Adam and Eve to Earth, if all three religions believe in many of the same prophets, how can our values be so different? Rather, if Judaism and Christianity might be grouped, even though Christianity arose much later and differs considerably in practice, why is Islam not included in the phrase? Why is one religion embraced (at least in phrasing) while another is rejected if they are all religions that trace back to the same source? It's not as if Muslims are new to this country; for goodness' sake, Thomas Jefferson had a copy of the Quran! Especially in a country that claims religious freedom and tolerance, that claims to separate religion from the state, why is 'Judeo-Christian values' so widely mentioned? I don't believe that people should murder, or steal. I also believe in treating others as I would want to be treated, I believe in respecting my parents, in being kind to those in need. I'm not sure what values I have that are so wildly different at their core from Judeo-Christian values. And I'm not sure how these two religion alone can claim the value system of this country when many religions besides these two are built on similar ones. So yes, as a Muslim, it bothers me to be told that America was founded on Judeo-Christian values, it bothers me to automatically have my value-system be dismissed in such a way when my religion comes from the other two, and on a wider scale, it bothers me that the association of all these good values this country claims for itself are apparently qualities of these two religions alone. It's a phrasing - when used in this context - that not only excludes me as a Muslim, but also people of every other religion, or people that deny religion altogether. If people so dearly want to claim this nation's core values as Judeo-Christian, then we need to get rid of the facade of Church-state separation.

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