An Open Letter to the Entire World
My name is Cherie Morse, and I am a double major in Religious Studies and English at Morningside College with a minor in Psychology. Please, do not get turned off and stop reading at the Religious part of my time here at Morningside; but it is on the topic of religion that I write to you now. I am also a practicing United Methodist and hold strongly to our traditions. It is on the topic of religion and on the topic of how lopsided our views are that I come to you and ask you to hear what I must say. Just give me a few moments of your time, I beg you. Let me come to you, both as a Christian and a scholar.
Let me start off by saying that I do not only study Christianity. That is the one thing that I get a lot of when I tell people I study religion. Religious Studies majors and minors do not simply study Christianity. We look at ALL world religions. The Abrahamic Faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have discussed as well as the different religions found in Asia such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism. So please, understand, that I do not come with only knowledge of Christianity, but with knowledge of others as well.
The subject weighing on my heart is the conversation about the Muslim community. Let me start off by saying that of the 1.6 BILLION people who claim Islam as their religion less than 1% of them are the radical extremists that make up terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS. With that being said, the prominent message that Muslims claim and follow is one not very far off of that of Christianity's. It is a message of peace, love, and submission to the one true god.
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are called the Abrahamic Faiths. The reason? They all claim to worship the god of Abraham. Jews do not believe that their promised messiah has come. Christians believe that Jesus was that promised messiah and comes from the line of Isaac. But Abraham had another son, Ishmael. And it from the line of Ishmael that we get the Muslim people.
They all, essentially if we think about it, worship the same god; the god of Abraham. Allah is simply the Arabic translation of God. Jews and Christians in the Middle East worship Allah as well. If you and I were to travel to the Middle East, we would as well be worshipping Allah. Why has there become this negative notion of the term? It is the same god. Please, understand this. Please hear this. Please consider opening your mind to this idea.
I am currently taking a class about Religion, Politics, and Society in America. Two things that Americans never want to talk about; politics and religion. And in the two class periods that we have had, the only views I see being stated are those of Christians. We are only looking at issues through a Christian lens. I get it, we are all Christians or at least relate best and know Christianity the most. But that is not the only religion in America. That is not the only religion that needs to be heard.
I walk into class in the mindset of a scholar. When debating, and discussing very rarely do I allow my faith and my United Methodist views be shown. I do so only when asked what the Christian viewpoint is. People fail to have open minds when entering a discussion about things that are “taboo” to talk about in our culture. And it leaves me on the verge of tears.
As a United Methodist, I believe in the open hearts, open minds, and open doors policy. I believe that the world is my parish just as John Wesley believed the world was his. I do not put borders on where my ministry can go, and neither does my denomination. We are an international denomination that gathers once every four years to discuss doctrine and practice. I yet still find myself in conversation with other United Methodists that only see their side of the world. And that is the reason I write to you today.
No matter your faith preference, no matter your beliefs or your lack thereof, you need to be able to be open to different faiths. It is in the unwillingness to understand those who differ from us that we find persecution. Specifically speaking to the issue at hand today, it is in our misunderstanding of the Muslim faith that we find our persecution of them. Equally so, it is in their unwillingness to understand us that they have formed the thoughts they have about us. But telling an entire group of people, no matter the motive behind it, that they cannot be a part of something is more than you just not being willing to hear what they have to say. It’s you putting yourself as more important as them. It is you denouncing them completely claiming they are completely wrong. I’m sorry, but to my fellow Americans and my fellow Christians, I do not support that.
I, Cherie Lynn Morse, a practicing United Methodist, completely support members of different faiths. I understand that while their beliefs are different from my own, that they are not out to hurt anyone. That they are simply trying to put meaning to the world; to find happiness in a similar way that I have. I support my Muslim brothers and sisters. I support my Jewish brothers and sisters. I support my brothers and sisters of all faiths. I will always stand beside them.
Please. I beg you, take a moment to try and understand. Take a moment and think about what it would be like if they were doing the things we are doing to them to us. A moment to reflect on our world. A moment to reflect on what we have become. Because as both a Christian and a scholar I weep.
The Christian and the Scholar.