Right-Wing Columnist Criticizes EthicsDaily.com Documentary Without Viewing It


Part of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. The museum commemmorates the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The bombing killed 168 people.
The founder of WorldNetDaily misled his readers on Wednesday about EthicsDaily.com's documentary, "Different Books, Common Word: Baptists and Muslims," airing on ABC-TV stations. He attacked our documentary without ever viewing it.

 

Facts bear little value for ideologues more committed to advancing their agenda than telling the truth.

 

Joseph Farah's agenda appears to be lumping together all Muslims as terrorists and keeping Christians and Muslims at one another's throat.

 

His straw man is one of our documentary interviewees, Bruce Prescott, executive director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists.

 

"In publicizing the documentary, Prescott made the following statement: 'We have extremists in both our faiths. We're just trying to find some common ground to promote peace,'" wrote Farah. "Ask Prescott about who those extremists are within his faith and he will readily point to McVeigh."

 

Prescott never says that. Prescott does talk about Baptist extremists who have made hateful statements and the need to counterbalance hate talk.

 

Farah failed to speak truth and ought to apologize to Prescott for speaking falsehood.

 

Moreover, our documentary does not identify McVeigh as a representative of Christianity. We leave his faith commitment without commentary. McVeigh's own statements are cloudy.

 

Our documentary opens with a Muslim leader recalling what happened when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed in April 1995, killing 168 people. He says that he remembered vividly a radio interviewee, a self-identified terrorist expert, who said that the bombing had all Middle Eastern prints on it. Imad Enchassi underscores that the charge concerned him.

 

Enchassi, now imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, also recalls a friend walking into his restaurant and telling him that "his people" had better not have bombed the building.

 

The documentary then segues to a frame about McVeigh, a Bronze Star recipient and Gulf War veteran, being caught. Footage shows him in an orange jumpsuit being escorted by security.

 

This documentary segment is about Muslims being falsely accused of bombing the federal building, not McVeigh's faith.

 

The next documentary chapter centers on Sayyid Syeed, national interfaith director for the Islamic Society of North America.

 

Sitting in his office one street over from the U.S. Supreme Court Building, Syeed talks about the role of Islam in a pluralistic democracy. He notes that when certain Baptist leaders made "statements," then other Baptist leaders made statements to assure Muslims that not all Baptists were hostile to Muslims.

 

He quickly notes that Muslims, too, need to counter the rhetoric of their own extremists.

 

Muslim extremists "are not representative of all Muslims," he says. "Our problem is that our extremists are far more louder because they do certain things. They don't just issue statements. They kill people. And they make certain terrorist tragedies happen and then they owned them."

 

Syeed points out that such statements and actions can never be justified.

 

The documentary is about finding common ground between two faiths in the Abrahamic tradition. In different ways, members of both traditions acknowledge that their own faiths have extremists. But the documentary is not really about the hostile parties. The documentary tells five stories about Baptists and Muslims seeking goodwill with one another.

 

From a Christian perspective, moral blindness occurs when we fail to see our own sinfulness, make hubristic claims and deny the presence of evil-makers within our own camp. What is needed is a sense of moral discernment that calls into question our own prejudices toward Muslims and our nation's assertions about its righteousness. Pridefulness is a dangerous thing. Moral indifference or sloth is equally harmful.

 

EthicsDaily.com readers ought to make their own judgment about our documentary.

 

"Different Books, Common Word" continues airing this week on ABC-TV stations across the country, beginning on Saturday, Jan. 9, in Jacksonville, Fla., (WJXX) at 5 p.m. and Las Vegas (KTNV) at 4:30 p.m.

 

On Sunday, Jan. 10, it airs in Abilene, Texas, (KTXS) at 12 p.m.; Chicago (WLS) at 11:30 a.m.; Flint, Mich., (WJRT) at 12:30 p.m.; Knoxville, Tenn., (WATE) at 12:30 p.m.; Lincoln, Neb., (KLKN) at 12 p.m.; Louisville, Ky., (WHAS) at 3 p.m.; Nashville (WKRN) at 2 p.m.; Orlando (WFTV) at 2 p.m.; South Bend , Ind., (WBND) at 1 p.m.; Tallahassee, Fla., (WTXL) at 4 p.m.; and Wilmington, N.C., (WWAY) at 3 p.m.

 

For a complete listing, click here. If you don't see your station listed, check with your station. And know that we are trying to keep this list updated.

 

Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics.

 

To order the documentary as a DVD, click here.

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