Loving Our Job-Seeking Muslim Neighbors as Ourselves

In this month’s Christianity Today there is an article by Bradley R. E. Wright (a sociologist at UConn) summarizing his study of religious discrimination by potential employers.

The results of the study, in brief, were that any religious affiliation at all being indicated on the résumé (even a fictitious affiliation) could significantly hurt one’s chances of being called back about a job. “Pagan” affiliation cost potential applicants the least, and then Jewish, Evangelical, Catholic, and the fictitious “Wallonian” cost applicants a bit more. Atheist affiliation fwas more costly still.

But the most impressive drop came from Muslim affiliation. Whereas the control group had a 20% call back rate, and Jews, Evangelicals, and Catholics were all in the 16% range, Muslim résumés were only called back 12.6% of the time.

The beauty of this article, run in an Evangelical Christian magazine, was its final section, where it called attention to this disparity as an opportunity for discipleship–for Christians to ask the question what it means to love our Muslim neighbors.

Wright pinpoints Islamophobia as a present reality that we need to become more aware of. And this “awareness” should lead us to engage the issue in Christ-like love: we do not grasp and cling to religious freedom just for ourselves, but we demand it for our neighbor.

I would put it like this: the way of Jesus is the way of the cross, which means refusing to secure power and freedom at the expense of the other; and, instead, securing power and freedom for the other (even my enemy) even if, in the process, it costs me my life.

Wright says:

We weren’t saved to make special deals for fellow believers but to bless the entire world. Christianity shines bright when it is looking out for the interests of the socially marginalized, and our research suggests that American Muslims are the most marginalized in hiring.

Or, as Jesus said: “Let your light so shine before people that they can see your good deeds and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” And that by “Loving your [Muslim] neighbor as yourself.”

“Your faith might cost you your next job.” That’s what the headline said. But inside was a more important story: it might cost your Muslim neighbor her next job. That’s where the call to follow Jesus came through.

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