2011 March 05 Saturday
Protestantized Muslims Still Rare In America?

One American Muslim does not believe in the supremacy of Muslims over non-Muslims.

In some ways, Zuhdi Jasser doesn't match the profile of the typical Muslim American. He's an active Republican who has supported U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, advocates for Israel and says his faith harbors "an insidious supremacism."

Well, Islam spread by conquest. Supremacism is core do its definition. Jasser might hope for an Islamic Reformation that separates belief in Islam from belief in religious states that enforce religious rules. But I think the odds are against him. Maybe American Muslims will absorb Protestant values the way that American Catholics basically protestantized. Maybe not too.

Yet the prominent Scottsdale, Ariz., doctor is the face of American Islam for a Capitol Hill moment. Other than members of Congress, Jasser is the only witness New York Rep. Peter T. King has identified so far for his upcoming hearings on the radicalization of U.S. Muslims.

The people of Muslim background who seem compatible with American values all seem to be atheists from Muslim families. So I am skeptical about claims of protestantization of American Islam.

Razib Khan argues that in America other religions (even Islam) have adopted Protestant norms for the position of religion in society. I question his assertion that American Muslims have accepted American norms on religion's place in society.

Which brings me to the point of this post, and the reason for the title: the exact numbers of Protestants, Catholics and Jews is pretty much irrelevant today in the United States. That is because Americans who are Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and even irreligious, have a fundamentally Protestant understand of how one “does” religion. To understand how and why I say American Catholics and Jews have a Protestant understanding of religion I recommend In Search of an American Catholicism: A History of Religion and Culture in Tension and American Judaism: A History. In Catholicism and American Freedom: A History John T. McGreevy outlines the realignment in the 1950s of Jews with elite east coast Protestants in the culture wars against traditional Catholicism, a reversal of the historical white ethnic coalitions within the Democratic party which emerged in the wake of the Civil War. In The Impossibility of Religious Freedom Winnifred Sullivan argues that American jurisprudence in the domain of church-state separation and accommodation is rooted in Protestant presuppositions. Finally, in The Cousins’ Wars: Religion, Politics, Civil Warfare, And The Triumph Of Anglo-America Kevin Phillips asserts that American Protestantism is fundamentally a dissenting faith which was aligned with the Whig party. I believe that this is most precisely the influence which frames how Americans of all faiths and no faiths understand religion.

What I worry about: As the world becomes a smaller place will Americanized religions in America lose their American character due to more contact of their believers (e.g. via social media sites) with those areas which are sort of the center of gravity of each of their religions? I think we can not count on the continued Protestantization of America's religious.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2011 March 05 02:53 PM  Religion Protestant Influence

Black Death said at March 5, 2011 6:29 PM:

Very good post. I am skeptical that we can "Protestantize" American Muslims. Major Hasan of Fort Hood fame was a native-born US citizen who had been deeply immersed in US military culture for many years. Didn't seem to take. The most secularized US Muslims I have ever known were always ex-Muslims, who were mostly athiests or agnostics. They were irreligious but semed to hold Islam in special contempt. Count me unconvinced.

A.Prole said at March 6, 2011 1:29 AM:

Of course, mass immigration of 'hard-working, taxpaying' third-worlders #as the WSJ constantly remind us#, will sort out this little problem.

Daoud said at March 6, 2011 10:43 AM:

No doubt this guy is on the muzzie hit list.

Smack said at March 6, 2011 11:18 PM:

Let's face it: Protestantism is a failure. In some instances even against European culture. A "reversion" to a false Judaism.

Half Sigma said at March 7, 2011 7:25 AM:

If Muslims became Universalist, and believed that their religion was only one of many traditions which lead one closer to God, then we'd get along with them just fine. There is such a branch of Islam, it's called Bahai, but the Bahai are subject to persecution in Islamic countries. Mainstream Islam is not tolerant of minority viewpoints.

Elena Gazquito said at September 25, 2011 1:27 PM:

I agree with Smack Protestant as the term is used to refer to both groups that split from the Roman Catholic Church with the Protestant Reformation

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