As I've traveled around the country since 9/11, I've heard all kinds of anger at Islam and lots of prejudice against American Muslims -- along with some legitimate criticism of Muslim leaders here and around the world.
In all of this, I get the sense that most Americans don't know any Muslims. Thus, they base their opinions on the goofball hate mongers on talk radio or other unreliable sources.
Starting yesterday, there's a new and better online source for people to use to become more familiar with Muslims around the country and their individual stories. It's called www.changethestory.net, and, as a press release from the sponsoring organization, Intersections, described it, will "feature video interviews of U.S. Muslims from around the country, discussion guides for religious leaders on how to hold interfaith dialogues, as well as various educational tools to be used in classrooms across the country."
Because I was unable until yesterday afternoon to access the new Web site for this project, I'm not able to give you a good review of its effectiveness. But from what I saw yesterday, there's lots of interesting material available. You should be able to surf around on it today and decide for yourself whether it will be useful to you and your faith community, if any. I think it will be.
I also invite you to familiarize yourself with the Intersections group at its site I've linked you to above. I didn't know much about the group until I learned about the launch of this new site, but it clearly has an active and ambitious agenda.
Prejudice often grows out of fear, which grows out of ignorance (though sometimes legitimate fear grows out of knowledge). The more we can know about others the more likely we are not to misjudge them. This new site should help with that task.
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RELIGIOUS OBJECTIONS TO WAR
A federal judge has ordered that the Army grant an honorable discharge to an Iraq war veteran who says he became a conscientious objector while there. I'm glad that C.O. status is legitimate and available but, given the aggression in the world, I'm glad not all Americans want C.O. status.
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P.S.: Yet another reminder about leaving comments here: You may post no more than five times a day with a maximum of 300 words each. Sometimes I give you a bit of slack on the 300-word count but not on the five times a day count. Thanks. Bill.
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