Iran: Two Kinds of Islam, Two Kinds of Religion | Sojourners

Iran: Two Kinds of Islam, Two Kinds of Religion

090623-god-bless-humanityThere is the Islam of the dictators and their religious allies, used to keep people in their place, used to justify their own power, used to shame and threaten those who question their authority. And there is the Islam of the protestors, calling out to God in hopes of liberation. Whose prayers are heard? Which group has a more true vision of God?

I've been saying for several years that I think there are two kinds of Christianity, along with two kinds of Islam, Judaism, and every other religion and non-religion too: one of social control and one of social transformation ... one to hold people down, one to lift them up ... one an opiate to pacify people into compliance, the other a stimulant to empower people to imagine a better world, a better future, a better life -- giving them the courage to live in peaceful defiance of violent, corrupt, and greedy powers-that-be.

Neither kind is perfect, and both kinds contain good and sincere people. But if those who use God and religion for social control are left to define faith, then the religion they define will be a false one, an ugly one, an idolatrous one. God bless humanity ... and God help us find a way of being faithful that opens the door to a better future.

Someone sent me this link to Andrew Sullivan's blog, a powerful iReport from Tehran. Very moving, and well worth your time to watch ... and add your prayers to those of Iranians seeking freedom from dictatorship.

Brian McLarenBrian McLaren ( is a speaker and author, most recently of Everything Must Change and Finding Our Way Again.