Over the weekend, my post "The lonely jihadi: Why do Westerners join ISIS?" was featured on the Sojourner's 'God's Politics' blog.
Sojourner's magazine is a progressive publication of the social justice organization Sojourners, founded by current editor Jim Wallis who is active in bringing faith to light on issues of racial and social justice, life and peace, and environmental stewardship.
It was an honor to write for their online portal and I amended my original post to include a section on how Christian congregations and individuals can "combat" ISIS. While there is much to be said about the essentializing, and perhaps racially tinged, "multi-cultural" viewpoint that I espouse (casting "Muslims" as a community bloc or single identity given so much internal diversity) I still believe that a program of positive, multifaceted, integration on the public and private levels is the way forward in dealing with extremism and isolated individuals who join radical, violent, causes. This integration is not assimilation as such, but a bridge building and re-construction of what it means to be American (or European) in light of Muslim belief and practice. It is a two-way street, but one which non-Muslims (who too often cast Muslims in a solely negative light) bear the prime responsibility to cross. This is not because Muslims are incapable of making inroads toward integration, but the onus is on those of us who tend to push them to the margins in the first place.
Anyways, check out the blog and react to my paragraph about pro-active Christian initiatives to integrate the isolated Muslim who tends to join groups like ISIS:
Christians can be engaged at both the personal and congregational level. It begins with paying attention and recognizing the Muslim communities and individual Muslim families in your neighborhood and community; then, the impetus to find, and form, appropriate and respectful relationships. Once a friendship is established, take the time to listen, learn, and value their Islamic faith and practice. This friendship is best established, and nourished, through dining together, dialogue events, and interfaith community projects. These friendly encounters will not only build new bridges between Muslims and Christians, but also integrate isolated Muslims into the fold of their new communities making a home for them beyond the boundaries of religion and ethnicity.
These types of efforts, more than bombs and bombastic rhetoric, are how we can combat the lonely jihadi and make a significant contribution to peace in the Middle East, and indeed, across the globe.