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Christians must denounce hatred against Jews or Muslims in Europe and take action against violence, says EEA

The European Evangelical Alliance publishes two calls to action amidst the rising tensions in the context of the Israel-Gaza war.

AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus 09 DE NOVIEMBRE DE 2023 17:10 h
A memorial in Budapest to honour Jews killed during the Second World War. / Photo: [link]Sukanya Basu[/link], Unsplash, CC0.

Christians should not ignore that “hatred against people because of their ethnicity or religion is on the rise across Europe”, has said the European Evangelical Alliance (EEA) in a double call to action.



In the context of the Israel-Gaza war, believers should be aware of the strong emotions that the violence and deaths in the Middle East are stirring in European countries.



Christians should renounce and firmly condemn all antisemitic and anti-Muslim narratives, says the EEA, and go a step further to “seek friendship” with these groups. Evangelicals in Europe should not only notice when Jews or Muslims are targeted. Prayer should lead “to action”.



A “civil public square where there is freedom of religion or belief for all, and respect for difference” continues to be essential in this polarised context.



The two documents (see Call to Action Against Antisemitism and Call to Action Against Anti-Muslim Hatred), go as far as to ask fellow believers in Europe to stand with these two religious groups “when they or their property are attacked”, being “ready to provide sanctuary if the situation gets serious”.



The EEA bases these calls on Bible passages such as Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:31, saying “to hate, take revenge, exclude or desire the destruction of any people group, including Muslims, clearly violates God’s commandment to love our neighbour as we love ourselves (Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:31)”.





[photo_footer]  The two calls to action issued by the European Evangelical Alliance on November 2023. [/photo_footer] 


“Antisemitism happens around us in Europe”



“Antisemitism happens around us in Europe in the form of words, boycotts and attacks on property and people”, says the EEA, a reality rooted in “lamentable past” that at many times included the “apathy and complicity” of Christians.



Antisemitism remains a “virulent and dangerous reality in the present”, says the document. In Europe, there are realities that need to be condemned, such as: “Holocaust denial, the demonization of the state of Israel that goes far beyond reasonable criticism, the banning of Jewish lecturers at universities, variations of the hashtag ‘Hitler was right’, murderous attacks at synagogues and Jewish schools, and blanket calls for boycotts of all Jewish goods and enterprises”.



Also “Jewish believers in Jesus are also attacked, with Messianic congregations being vandalized, and swastikas being graffitied on walls”, says the EEA.



The document then looks at Biblical passages, to conclude that “antisemitism is a spiritual evil, grounded in an attempt to thwart God’s plans for the redemption of a fallen humanity that He sent his Son to save. Through the Jewish people, God gave to the world the written Word (the Scriptures) and the Word made flesh (the Saviour)”.



 



Coming alongside Muslims when they are treated unfairly



When addressing anti-Muslim hatred, the EEA admits that “the history of Europe and Islam is complicated”, although centuries of “multicultural coexistence” have also brought knowledge and cultural development.



The EEA says that understandably “people worry about horrific acts of Islamist terrorism, the radical and violent teaching of some imams” and “brutal regimes abroad where a savage and intolerant form of Islam is enforced”.



But that must not take away the focus from the reality that “across Europe, most Muslims live, work and study harmoniously” and “believe in peaceful coexistence, contributing to the common good and simply getting on with their lives”.



No concern about radical Islamist movements nor about a loss of Christian identity in Europe “justify acts of hatred against Muslims”, says the EEA.



“Christians have also been complicit in unfair anti-Muslim rhetoric, choosing to see Islam and Muslims in broad terms as primitive and violent”, says the document. “Some Christians want to deny Muslims religious freedom”.



“We may also have failed to come alongside our Muslim neighbours when they have been treated unfairly by society. Or maybe we blame the Muslim community for their growth in numbers, rather than seeing the mission opportunities around us to share Jesus’ love”.



The document goes on to point to point to Biblical passages in the New and the Old Testament which show how to relate well to Muslims.



[analysis]



  [title] Does fighting intolerance exclude evangelism? [/title]



 [text]

The respect and peaceful engagement with Jews and Muslims in Europe does not exclude Christian mission and evangelism, remembers the European Evangelical Alliance.



“Jesus is the only way of salvation for all people, including for His fellow Jews (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5; Romans 1:16). Therefore, to withhold His message of salvation from people is not an act of love”, states the document.



Speaking about mission to Jews, the EEA “calls for the clear, respectful and compassionate communication of God’s Gospel message of love to all people, including to the Jewish people”. In other words, “if Christians love people, including the Jewish people, then they must respectfully share God’s message of love so that they can be saved (John 3:16)”



Speaking of former Muslims who have converted to Christianity in Europe, the EEA also states: “Christians of Muslim background in Europe can face ostracism and violence because they have left Islam. Sometimes the wise response is collaboration with moderate Muslims, at other times, it is simply right to challenge. The Church also needs to step up in loving welcome to these converts, providing a new sense of family”.


[/text]



[/analysis]


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