We will continue in 2016 to debate the role of the United States in the Middle East, our relations with Muslim-Americans, and the prospect of Muslim refugees arriving in America from Europe and war-torn Syria.
Much of this debate about Islam will be fueled by presidential campaign rhetoric designed to stir ideological fervor among potential voters and enlist support for candidates who espouse all too often divisive views.
As we consider these emotional assertions and the reasons behind them, let’s not forget that Muslims themselves often are caught in the crossfire of the Islamic religious war that roils the Sunni-Shia devout.
The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has produced an excellent video that clearly illuminates this Sunni-Shia Divide.
It is must viewing for anyone who desires a serious, non-emotional understanding of how the battle for the minds and hearts of Muslims has torn communities and radicalized many in the name of religious purity.
A battle that has spread to Europe and troubles many Muslims of both factions in the United States, too.
America has a long history of discrimination against different religious groups and sects. Whether it is Christian-Jewish hatred, Catholic-Protestant animosity, or deep-rooted suspicions among Fundamentalists, Evangelicals and Pentecostals.
If we are to discuss these religious differences seriously, we have to be honest with ourselves. We must recognize that our own prejudices undermine the sincerity of our devotion to the faith we embrace and the good works we profess.
We should demand that those who aspire to national leadership resolve in 2016 to foster a more ecumenical discussion of religion, refugees and immigration.
Let’s promise this year to embrace the beliefs that unite us rather than divide. And let’s demand that the presidential candidates of both parties make the same resolution.