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Scapegoating never works

Scapegoating never works

In recent days there has been enormous public expression to “other” Muslims – to render them suspect, foreign, alien. We need to remember, and honor, the fact that Christianity and Islam are branches from the same religious root. Muslims are our brothers and sisters in the Abrahamic faith.

We have seen this before. At various points in history, public sentiment has scapegoated Jews, people of color, gays and lesbians, Roma, Japanese, Hutus, Tutsis, Serbs, Croatians and on and on and on. Not to mention Christians.

Scapegoating is putting down one group in order to build up another, and has long been part of the world’s landscape because it appeals to a perverse portion of the soul. It usually kicks up strong, sometimes virulent reactions – but it has never worked. All it has ever done is produce more confusion, chaos and tragedy.

In the 13th century, St. Thomas Aquinas declared that diversity is the perfection of the universe. Our diversity, our differences, makes for the incredible tapestry of the human family. Instead of “othering” one another, we need to learn from one another. The Torah is a holy book. The Bible is a holy book. The Koran is a holy book. We are all holy people – God’s beloved.

My teacher and mentor Henri Nouwen would often say that the challenge for us is not to see how we are different, but how we are the same. That we all laugh and weep and mourn and struggle. No matter where we come from. No matter how we search for meaning in the world.

Yes, there are differences among us and between us – yet those differences need not be barriers, but can serve as pathways for deeper understanding of what it means to be a child of God.


Thank you for your thoughtful meditation and reflection. It was exactly what my heart and soul needed this morning.

Peace, Allison Duvall

Scapgoating one group of Muslim terrorist is not scapegoating the entire group of Muslims. We must profile so we are able to find those who wish to do harm. If we look at history going back several centuries our brothers and sisters of Christian, Jewish and Islamic faith have and continually used the method of scapegoating "others". Just go to a coffee hour or a luncheon and those who failed to attend are often the topic of discussion where their recent deeds and efforts are judged as evil. Look how we talk about retired bishops such as Croneberger and Spong...... Establishing profiles for them which are not Christian like. Profiling and scapegoating may be evil and it is evil when an entire group is profiled such as Muslims, Germans, Italian, Japanese and others. However recent events by many are not labeling an entire group for scapegoating. We must profile certain groups who have certain characteristics. Failure to label, separate and charge these individuals would not be Christian like. Look at recent blunders starting with the movie "Path to Paradise". Onward Christian Soldiers. Humanity is not perfect and many times it is our weakness which provides us our strength.

A parishioner pointed to a birka wearing woman and said, "Look, they are here among us." And I replied, "Yes, they have escaped with their lives from those who hate them, who also hate us."

I continue to be so proud and grateful to be part of a community that seeks to follow Jesus. Thanks for pastoring us all!

I was taught as a young person that "running someone else down is the cheapest way to build yourself up." Thanks for sharing!

Some years ago, my 15 year old daughter, in speaking about her friendship with a African American gay boy, said to me: "Mom, I am so glad you didn't raise me to be prejudiced because if I was prejudiced, I would have missed out on knowing someone really special." She understood the blessing of diversity and the joy of finding someone special by NOT being afraid. Thank you for your wise words.

Thank you, Bishop Mark, for your insights in your blog post "Scapegoating." Within our Diocese of Newark we have the second-largest Arab-American and Islamic community in the country, second only to the Dearborn, Michigan, area. Over the years I have come to meet and know people from the Arab-American community in the Paterson-Clifton area—Muslims and Christians both—as well as non-Arab Muslims, such as Pakistanis, Iranians, Bangladeshis, and African-Americans who have adopted the Islamic religion. They enrich our community, and I'm proud to call them friends. Many have family members who are in danger in Syria, Iraq, Gaza, the Palestinian West Bank, and other war-torn regions. They are desperately trying to arrange to bring them to safety here in the United States, and I believe that God is calling on us to help them in whatever ways we can. I will never forget a ten-year-old Palestinian boy, who was so proud that he was considered old enough to join in the Ramadan fast, telling us that "God loves everybody." If we have that understanding in common, can our differences be that great? And—do you know?—their standard greeting is "as-salam-u aleikum," with the response, "wa aleikum as-salam." It means "Peace be with you," with the response, "and peace also with you." If we just start with that greeting, we can take giant steps towards peace on this earth.

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