I attended my first Orthodox worship service today, and although the worship service itself was nice, I found the sermon a bit disconcerting. The 9/11 attacks were broached, and although the priest did not explicitly say this, he seemed to imply that 1) Islam/Muslims are evil 2) we are engaged in a war against Islam/Muslims, and/or 3) that 9/11 was in some sense punishment for losing our(America's) moral compass. Now, I have no problem with the idea that Christianity is the Truth and that salvation is through Christ alone, but what I was hearing sounded more like prejudice and stereotype? Is this a common Orthodox sentiment? Is this the Orthodox Church's teaching??
Although exaggerated, the priest's points as you related are mainly true. If you wish, I will supply supporting material but I cannot blame you in thinking that such thinking is prejudicial and stereotyping--after all, President Bush persisted in calling Islam a religion of peace for years (I think for reasons of state).
1. "Islam/Muslims are evil." I join Father Anastasios in treating Muslims as folks who need Jesus. However, Islam, if not evil in itself, has elements in its holy book and tradition plenty of justification for its adherents to commit evil deeds. In this instance, I am not talking about their rejection of the Christ, but actual prescriptions for evil behavior, such as murder, rape and pillage, mistreatment of women, etc. Now, should you point out that Christians are also guilty of these behaviors, I would have to point out that they so behave in spite of
the Holy Bible, while the Muslims do so because
of the Qoran and Muslim Holy Tradition.
2. "we are engaged in a war against Islam/Muslims." It would be more correct to say that Islam/Muslims have been waging war against non-Muslims since the 7th century. At the present time, millions of fanatical and extremist Muslims are waging Holy War against non-Muslims. While these millions of extremists are but a fraction of the total Muslim population, they dominate because the rest either support the extremists in their hearts or they are afraid of them.
3. "that 9/11 was in some sense punishment for losing our(America's) moral compass." I do not know if it was punishment but it is true that many Muslims absolutely hate the West for having lost its moral compass. They are threatened by abortion, pornography, woman's liberation, gay rights, post modern ethical attitudes, and even the material success in modern societies. In accordance with their religion, their God is supposed to elevate them above all others. Since they have been a distant second to the West for over 100 years now, they are also humiliated and many fundamentalists also think that Muslims who have adapted Western ways must also be fought.
I hope that this helps put the priest's words in context.