The news outlets had a heyday with Pamela Geller’s art contest where artists would compete for a $10,000 prize by drawing the Islamic Prophet, Muhammed. This event, not long after the Charlie Hebdo tragedy, seemed simply to be a stunt to fuel hatred against Muslims in the U.S. How should Christians respond to events like these and does condemning such an event constitute a rejection of freedom of speech?


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Here starts the auto-generated transcription of A Christian Response to Drawing Muhammed: 



Extremists are, are alive and well. They are not dead, and their video is not gratuitous, and it irrelevant. It is a warning. Welcome to the truth about Muslims podcast. The official podcast of the swimmer center for Muslim studies where we help to educate you beyond the media. Here are your hosts, Howard and Trevor.


Alright. We’re doing a show, Howard and I. No guests today because it’s been a while. We’re not interested in guests today. That’s right.


We have, decided that it has been far too long since we’ve done our own show and we have a, you know, something in the media that was definitely for you early listeners, a boom goes to dynamite moment this week. But before we get to that, we want to say thank you to our reviewers. We get a lot of reviews lately, I think on our, iTunes website. Yeah. I think we’re up to 26.


Yeah. Yeah. 26. We were giving like a weekly update and then all of a sudden we stopped checking because we figured people stopped giving reviews. Right.


But no. I mean and they’ve been really, really gracious. There’s this one, in particular one reviewer said, when it comes to sharing the gospel I would trade all my apologetics training for what I’ve learned from this podcast. Why, thank you. Boom.


I did not expect that, but okay. Apologetics is excellent for my walk with Christ, just not evangelism as much. I had God boxed into my very nice American dream. He loved me and Americans, and his justice would reign on those evil Muslims. Then I became friends with a Muslim girl my age and so That changes everything.


Right? You become friends with a Muslim. Right. They become human. Okay?


Muslim girl my age and started listening to this podcast. Woah. Did that shake things up? God is so much bigger and greater than I realized. Learning to see things through his eye their eyes, sorry, finally had opened doors that I never imagined.


I never knew how God had hidden the keys to his kingdom in the Muslim religion, giving them so many beliefs that are just right for making them pre Christians. Yeah. So and it keeps going on and on. It’s a it’s a really really nice review and we just wanted to say thank you because we sometimes don’t mention that some of the feedback we get from our listeners but it really does make a difference for why we do what we do. Absolutely, it matters that people are listening.


And so, anyway Yeah. And you you mentioned in there to turn up the sound and you mentioned Trevor turn up the sound. I just wanna say that I don’t have anything to do with the sound. That’s all Howard. Yeah.


Okay. In my defense, the one time I did do the sound, it was horrible. It was when we did Naveel Jabbour, and the sound was so messed up. We had to buy software to fix it. Right.


Because I did the sound. Right. And and even when we bought this software, it wasn’t, like, fixing it well. But, anyway, the point is I’m not a sound engineer, and so I’m I’m learning along the way. So I really appreciate everyone’s, patience and grace, and all that good stuff.


Some Howard, an encouraging word. He does good man. It’s been good. Yeah. I mean, we don’t what we’re doing and we’re doing it.


So like this is really good. Yeah. This was all kind of started on a whim about, I don’t know, 6 months ago. It is a bit bizarre that it’s been going for this long and Right. We’re starting to get some momentum, but here’s the deal.


This is where you guys come in. Yes. Please. Spread the word. Yes.


Get people to listen. Understand that we’re talking about this in a little bit different way than what they’re seeing in the media and we need to have a little bit more diversity in how we look at the world. And we try to always bring it from the perspective of how does, our Christian world view how should we view this? How should we view this in light of scripture, in light of missions, and try to make things a little bit more complicated than the 32nd sound bite we hear in the news. Right.


And we know it’s so hard because you podcast listeners, I mean, we’re different. I know that not everyone even knows what a podcast is or how to get on 1 but you might have to just grab their phones, you know download an app do it, subscribe them, post it on Facebook, whatever, Twitter, whatever you want to do because we need, to get the word out because we really want to influence people, towards you know what, what, God, you know, how God sees Muslims where he wants to see them come to know him. So, anyway, thanks for the reviews. They’re very encouraging. We haven’t had any hateful reviews yet.


So if if you if you’re wanting to do one of those, just don’t. Don’t. It would hurt our feelings. We’re sensitive people. We do get some hate mail but, we get far more encouragement than we do hate mail.


So thanks so much guys for your encouragement. Right. So the show wouldn’t be possible without sponsors. And this week’s sponsors are. Zweimer Center.


Zweimer Center. The Zweimer Center. The what? Zweimer Center? Zweimer Center.


And what does the Zweimer Center do? Talks about Muslims and and tells them on computers that we love you. Very nice. The Swimmer Center equips the church to reach Muslims. The Swimmer Center has been educating people about reaching Muslims before it was cool.


Alright. Let’s do it this week. What do we got, Howard? Okay. This is on Howard’s insistence that we talk about this issue.


I’m more of a, I don’t really want to talk about it. Okay, well we really need to talk about it because we’re talking about the exhibition, right? Depicting the prophet Muhammad, put on by an organization headed by a woman named Pamela Geller. And okay so for those of you that didn’t know is that she made this contest or this organization made this contest and they offered a $10,000 prize for those that drew pictures of Mohammed, and it was of course really really controversial and it was kind of playing off the, Charlie Hebdo. The Charlie Hebdo tragedy.


The Danish cartoon drawings Right. Way back when. Right. Right. And so she’s been getting a lot of attack, but at the same time, everyone’s she achieved the impossible.


At this point in time in the United States, you are in one camp or the other. No matter how much you want to say you’re balanced or you try to you try to speak in a balanced position, everybody always pigeonholes you into one camp or the other. She achieved the impossible where she has both liberals and conservatives hating on her. So I mean, in that sense, I was like, wow. You know, you can’t say that this was politically motivated because you even have Bill O’Reilly condemning the woman and then you also have MSNBC and CBS and everybody.


Everybody’s upset with what she did. Yeah. And that makes sense because it sounds like she was inviting she wanted, fundamentalists to come and attack fundamental Muslims to come and attack. And it just seemed really irresponsible. But I was really surprised at how many artists had sent in entries.


It was 350. And the artist that actually got, that won the 10,000 dollars prize he started posting it all over Twitter and social media because he wanted to get the artwork out there. I figured he would kind of run and hide at that point but he did not. But okay, so Trevor tell me why exactly you didn’t want to talk about this. I just don’t like to talk about well, 1, Mohammed because I know it’s such a a touchy subject for so many of my my Muslim friends.


Right. Yeah. I I guess because there’s there’s 2 issues here. Right? Mohammed is a controversial figure and, draws a lot of attention both positive and negative from all over the world.


Most I think it’s the most popular first name in the world. As a matter of fact, I was watching a show, Big Bang Theory. Not not ashamed to say that I watch that. It was actually quite funny. And, one of the guys says to the other guy who’s, you know, one of those really brilliant people in the world that has no social skills.


He says to him, you’re never gonna guess who I ran into today. And he said, Muhammad Lee. And he said, who is Muhammad Lee? And he said, well, it’s just statistical, you know, deduction. Muhammad is the most popular first name in the world and Lee is the most popular last name.


So I just said Muhammad Lee. So in that sense, like, you know, when all of this came out, Muslims responded. Some Muslims responded quite well, but we didn’t get to see that in the news. Right. Because that’s not newsworthy.


Right. Some Muslims decided that draw a picture of your best friend who’s named Mohammed, just a person, as a way to counteract the, what they considered hatred or hate speech of this contest. Right. So you have the the controversy with it’s Mohammed and then you have the other controversy where we’re dealing with free speech. And this is where it gets really, complex for me anyway.


Yeah. Go ahead. Well, as Christians, how do we deal with with free speech? I mean, I’ve I’ve lived in a country where there was not free speech and I don’t think I would want it that way. Right.


That’s that’s really extreme. Right. And but on the other hand, as a believer and a follower of Christ, I don’t believe that I’m entitled to free speech because I think that my tongue is also brought into the submission under the submission of Christ. So there’s there’s a conflict, an internal conflict that I personally have. Right.


Because just because you’re able to do it, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Well, yeah. There are some things I can’t say because I’m a follower of Christ. Like, I I can’t I can’t be hateful. Right.


Just because you have the freedom, you have the freedom, you have the of Christ. Like, I I can’t I can’t be hateful. Right. Just because you have the freedom doesn’t mean yeah. Because that would, def you know, defile your your beliefs.


So the question is, is that what Pamela Gellert does? Well, I think the issue is is that we have okay, so here’s the hard thing, you have a lot of Christians that are wanting to say, you know, I don’t like what she did, I think what she did is wrong, but I value free speech enough that I’m not willing to condemn what she did. Right. And they can’t speak to it because then it would they would be pigeonholed in one side. Yeah.


It’s Which is what we’re afraid of here. Yeah. It’s a slippery slope. Right? If you say she shouldn’t have done it, that’s wrong, inciting violence, and you shouldn’t do that, then people say, so you’re against free speech.


Right. Which you know what? Maybe that’s what I’m saying. I’m not a 100% sure where I stand on this. As a believer, I don’t know that we are as entitled to these rights as we think we are.


That’s what I I guess I’m a little bit hesitant about. I guess what I’m saying is not only should it have not been done, but I think Christians maybe shouldn’t be so quick to say I’m not willing to to condemn what she did because I wanna uphold free speech. Right. And it’s because it’s more nuanced than that. It really is.


Yeah. And I tell some of I mean, you heard we were fishing the other night and I mentioned to Howard, you know, we really you don’t have as much free speech as we often say. You don’t really have the freedom to say anything you want. I mean, you could walk into Walmart on, Black Friday and and shout fire and you might incite violence, you know, you could have, start a mob and you know what? You’re gonna get in trouble for that.


Right. You can’t do that. Of course, airplanes, you can’t say bomb or anything like that. Right? Can you imagine?


I’m thinking of, meet the parents the movie. Yeah. Bomb on an airplane. Yeah. No.


You can’t. You can’t walk on an airplane. Try it and call us and let us know how it goes. No. Don’t don’t don’t associate with us.


Wait. Real quick funny airplane story. I was flying to Louisiana. I was speaking at a conference and the conference one of those lectures that I had to give that I hadn’t finished was Islam in the 21st century and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. So I’m going through my lectures and my lectures are all image driven PowerPoints.


Right? No, no words, just images. So there’s 9:11, there’s Bin Laden, there’s Aynman Zawahiri, there’s Sayyid Qutb, all these, you know, men responsible for the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. And I look behind me and the person sitting behind me is staring at my computer, like, she just could not take her eyes off it. And all I’m thinking is, this is a bad idea what I’m doing right now.


So I had to put my computer away because I’m on a plane. Can you imagine if you’re sitting next to a guy that’s sitting there looking at pictures in line? Looking at your computer. I was just thinking you were making a presentation. Oh, yeah.


No. No. She’s looking over my shoulder, and I’ve got pictures of Bin Laden. I’ve got pictures of Zohar, and all and she’s just sitting there looking at it, and I’m thinking this woman is probably about to have a heart attack. Right.


No. No. No. I would’ve I would’ve reported you to the to Marshall. You would’ve dove on me and put me in a headlock.


Alright. This week’s sponsors. CIU. CIU. CIU educates people from a bib Biblical.


Biblical world review Worldview. Real world review. CIU educates people from a biblical worldview to impact the nations with the message of Christ. So, anyway, sorry. Yeah.


So you I’m just saying, I don’t know that you have a 100% free speech. I’m not sure we really understand what that means, but I do, I have lived in another context where you couldn’t say anything. You could go to jail for just speaking out against the government. Actually, can you give us an example of that because I know that you have a couple of stories. Well, I mean I have friends that would speak out against the government and the next thing they know they’d find themselves the next morning in the police station and then maybe even exiled to an outer island.


Do they know why? Oh, of course. I mean, the the police but the police told them. Yeah. There could be a rumor.


This person said this about this particular, ruler or this person said this about this particular part of the royal family or this dictator and then next thing you know they’re gone, you know. And so, you can’t just say whatever you want in those countries and I don’t want that, of course. Right. Right. Right.


We’ve lived into that. And so, but the question is, you know, we were talking about this just this morning. Maybe all things are permissible but not beneficial. Right. And as a believer, we do have to uphold biblical values far and above, maybe our constitutional rights.


Is that okay to say? What do you think? Yeah. Yeah. I think so too.


The what would you say that, what was the main problem with what Geller did? What how does that affect, our relationships with Muslims? Because, you know, I think that people would, Muslims would assume that Geller would be a representation of Christianity. Correct? Because she’s American.


Sure. I mean, 78% of Americans claim to be Christians, and so they think Christian nation, this is what Christianity this is an attack of a Christian this is Christendom, Western Christendom attacking Islam again. That’s what they would that’s how it would be, the propaganda that would go out in the Muslim world. Right. And this is this this news has gone throughout the whole world.


And I have no idea what Pamela Geller’s faith stance is. I’ve not looked at the Right. But I wouldn’t want to make that claim. From a Christian standpoint though, why why was it such a big deal for her to do this? Why would this affect what we do or what we believe as Christians?


Well, I think that the new testament’s, pretty clear on this. This isn’t a gray area that we’re supposed to be careful with how we speak. Not to let unwholesome talk come out of our mouths, to season our conversations with salt, to, not curse, brother, and then also to, you know, bless God and curse man with the same tongue of which man is made in the image of God. I mean, the bottom line here, the thing for me is, like, I saw a, Facebook post and this is one of the reasons I’m not on Facebook and it was a student that showed it to me. It said Texas to ISIS 0.


And I was like It was referring to the 2 gunmen that had come Right. That the police had shot. And of course, you have to. These guys show up and they’re wanting to kill people and and they’re wanting to do an act of terrorism in the name of defending, their prophet Mohammed. Right.


But still, like, 2 people are dead. And I don’t know. Like, even if these guys are doing wrong, there’s still something that seems not right about gloating in the death of an enemy. I mean, that’s from the Psalms, you know, but we we get really confused when we, I don’t know, confuse or conflate our our faith and our our nationalism and our love for our country and also our love for god and are those two things always compatible? I’m just not sure.


It’s a really confusing thing. Yeah. But There’s a lot to think about there. Yeah. Something that I always teach because I’m a youth pastor, something I always teach is that, you know, there is a lot in the nuance of things.


Like, it’s easy to come up with dogmatic arguments, you know, set up straw men about what you believe so that, you can, you know, imaginearily debate, you know, people that, you know, these, these really shallow arguments against your faith, and then you just knock them down and impress everybody. But then when it comes to the real world, I think, you have to deal with the nuance. You have to deal with the gray issues and and wrestle with them. I think this is one of those things where, you know, I think a lot of people come down hard on one side or the other, but I think there’s a lot more to it than that. And the and I think the tough thing is, you know, we’re dealing a little bit with, the constitution, constitutional trying my my best to be careful here, but we do realize that, I would I would think that as Christians we would want to uphold religious freedom, But oftentimes it seems like we’re only willing to do that so long as it’s the right religion.


Yeah. We would want to uphold the right for people to, pray or, have, religious attire in public schools, but so long as it’s the right religion. And this is the same thing that France has been dealing with. Right? So we kind of have to make up our minds.


Do we want a secular society like France where they implement this concept of la cite or secularism, where you can’t wear a headscarf, you can’t wear a cross, you can’t wear a kippah, you can’t have anything any particular religion, but also not infringe on the rights of the people to exercise their religion. And so, we want to uphold a society where the government will not promote any particular religion, but also not infringe on the rights of the people to exercise their religion. And so that means that come Christmas time, there’s going to be the manger scene, but then come, Eid, they’re gonna want that day off for for their Eid celebration. It’s complicated. Right?


It’s not so easy. And and and holidays would I’m just thinking about holidays, like, they would that would be a a big deal, I think, if, government, you know, workers all got off on every religious holiday. You see what I’m saying? People start making them up, you mean, like, best of us? Well, not not just that but just, just being really complicated you know I think.


Yeah, so that’s, that’s interesting. But I think what we have to recognize is that we, we do value democracy. We do value the majority of the people. Right? And, right now, Islam, Muslims are not the majority in the United States and so, it’s a confusing thing.


And like I said, I I wrote an article, gosh, probably 3 months ago about Islamophobia in the church and man, I got some really mean responses, like, almost like I hated America or something. And I, I was tempted to respond but I didn’t because it just feels like no matter what you say, people are trying to categorize you and I think that’s a first in our country. I think it hasn’t been like that in a very long time historically, where people don’t know you by who you are or what you believe or what you say, but they simply know you as either which party are you in. Right. We can polarize people.


Yeah. So And, so you don’t hate America. Of course not. No. Something that we talk about often because Trevor and I both have been in missions for years and traveled overseas all over the place and something that we always are reminded that when we come back to America, we feel like we’re coming home.


Absolutely. You know, and it’s a it’s a wonderful it’s wonderful thing. It’s not one of those things, you know, people are like, if you don’t like America, get out. You know, like, no. No.


No. We like America. This is this is not the point. But I I think that, that God has called us to, you know, to go above even our patriotism, you know, to to follow him, be to be devoted to him even beyond that and to allow him to influence us more than even our politics. You know?


Alright. So this show wouldn’t be possible without sponsors. And at this point in the show is where if you wanna partner with us, we would put your ad. So if you wanna be a part of the show, you wanna partner with us, you like what we’re doing, you wanna be on our team, what have you, bringing this show to the world, then email us and let us know. And so what it comes down to is I I see that there’s often a polarization even within young Christians.


So, millennials out there. I don’t what is the age group of millennials? What does it go to? About 34? I’m I’m right on the cusp.


Really? Yeah. I’m like the last year of the millennial and I think you’re a gen x er. Right? Yes.


I’m so sorry. Old. I’m young. You’re on the border. Anyway, what I see with the millennials is there’s an apathy towards government, an apathy towards any sort of political ideology at all.


And so you have this sort of polarized view. Again, like, the spectrums. On one end of the spectrum, you have those that say that, you know, what? Give to Caesar. What is Caesar’s?


Give to god. What is God’s? I will have no involvement whatsoever in politics and I will pursue pacifism and and just allow God to work through government systems and I won’t have any role in it. Mhmm. And on the other end of the spectrum, you have those that believe that, there is still the scripture that teaches that we do believe that it is is the role of the church to have the kingdom of God, the the will of God as it’s done in heaven here on earth and you can do that through political discourse.


Right. Justice and science. Right. So there’s these two radical ends of a spectrum, and I just see that the millennials tend to, be on the end of the spectrum where they’re completely apathetic. And the baby boomers are very much on the side of, like, political discourse and involvement and something there has to be some sort of middle ground there.


Right? But I don’t see it happening anytime soon. I work with a lot of college students and I see a lot of apathy. Right. Well, they they’re looking at, changing the world outside of government.


You know? These, startups and, you know, Kickstarters and such and trying to, you know, start an NGO and such. But, yeah, it is an interesting, situation, but I I think that we should think on it. And I would love to hear, not hate, but, some of your thoughts on it because, everything that I’m hearing on Twitter or Facebook or editorials and such are, pretty extreme. So I’d like to hear what, what you guys, are thinking about it.


Yeah. I think the kinda across the board is, what what Pamela Geller did, I think everybody pretty much agrees was wrong. It incited people to violence. And, the loser is the 2 young men that lost their lives. That’s that’s the ultimate wanted to believe something so badly they’re willing to lay down their lives for it.


And, it’s sad that they, wanted to believe something so badly they’re willing to lay down their lives for it. So in looking at all of this, how does how does a Christian view all of this? I think that we appreciate the fact that we do live in the country that we live in and that the constitution is an amazing document. Maybe the most amazing man made document, historically, and a lot of other countries have been built off of it. Sure.


But also recognizing that as Christians, we do have a higher Christians, we do have a higher calling and that our, our history has some pretty ugly spots. We have to realize where our country has done well, where our country has failed, and realize that no matter when we’re failing or doing well, we are actually called to live above reproach of even, our own Americanism and follow Jesus and make sure that that our Americanism doesn’t become our stumbling block. And I think that’s why I like that reviewer’s post. She was talking about, how, she had figured it out that god loved me in America and hated the evil Muslims. And I thought, wow.


Like, I think a lot of people probably find themselves in that place. Right. By default. Yeah. You know?


Yeah. It’s a public area. With it. Yeah. Jesus in America.


Yeah. I think it was Keith Green in the eighties, that would remember traveling to India said that, you know God’s not American, he’s not even Republican. Right. And I, I think I remember first hearing that I was like really? I like I just didn’t even think in terms of that.


Yeah. So, yeah, there’s a lot to think about. I hope that you guys as you’re driving your cars or, you know, washing your dishes or doing whatever and listening to this that you are wrestling with this just like we are. And, again, you know, write us at, Zwemer Center Check out our website.


Read our articles. We actually have a article, written by, Matthew Stone Matthew Stone, on this actual, topic, and so we’ll hopefully be releasing that, somewhat soon. And I think he has, a lot of good a lot of good things to say about that. Yeah. It’s it’s a complex issue and just, continue to pray for the Muslim world and continue to pray for Muslims here in this country that are starting to feel that polarization.


And I think that’s my biggest concern is that you have Muslims that feel like they have to toe a line all of a sudden, like, who side am I on? Let’s hope that, they meet a follower of Christ that shows them that there is a higher calling a higher calling than being on one side or the other, but simply following Jesus, which I think ultimately is the solution. So Right. Yeah. Well, thanks for listening.


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