In its inaugural front page, Beck’s new site, “The Blaze,” includes an article criticizing Imam Rauf, the man behind the “Ground Zero mosque,” for equating Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Naturally, this is a mischaracterization — Rauf’s point is on the underlying unity of the three Abrahamic faiths, a critical (and ancient) concept in Islamic theology, rather than any formal equality — but we’ve reached an extraordinary point in interfaith dialogue when one side of the political spectrum can bristle at attempts to build bridges.
Historically, the notion that Christians and Jews shared core beliefs with Muslims, entitling them to a modicum of respect under the Caliphate, provided the doctrinal basis for the dhimma contract, a proto-theory of religious liberty that made medieval Islam more progressive (on its best days) than its European peers. The contract survives the fall of the Caliphate today, in mainstream Islam, as a religious justification of American ideas of pluralism and religious freedom. On the other hand, its rejection by Beck puts him and his followers somewhere to the right of the Caliph Umar, and ought to prompt the question of which religion — Islam, or the aggressively hegemonic Christianity pushed by Beck — is actually more inimical to American values.