(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Searching for years for the truth about Islam, a California Presbyterian pastor has been on a mission to debunk stereotypes about Islam, fighting Islamophobia and false fiction about Muslims.
"Islamophobia is out there and it comes as a result of our fear, the fear of Muslims and Islam, which has been with us a long time," Pastor Ben Daniel of San Jose's Foothill Presbyterian Church told San Jose Mercury News.
"In North America, it dates back to the 18th century, but I don't think fear has ever been productive. It doesn't make us safer; it doesn't improve us as people.
“What we really need is hope and common sense and we need to get to know each other. If we do that, we will all be OK,” he added.
Following massive research, traveling and writing, Pastor Daniel issued his first about “The Search for Truth about Islam: A Christian Pastor Separates Fact from Fiction” to discuss Islamophobia in American society.
Daniel was speaking during an event invited by Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church last August.
The event, held in the Fellowship Hall of Sunnyvale Presbyterian, was attended by nearly 150 people,.
During the event, Daniel presented Maha Elgenaidi, founder of the Islamic Networks Group, a local nonprofit that works to counter prejudice and discrimination against American Muslims.
"This is a church that is engaged in important issues, which I really admire," Daniel said.
"I think most Presbyterians go to churches where issues around interfaith dialogue don't happen. Sunnyvale is the kind of church that is not afraid to tackle such important issues.
“It might make some people uncomfortable, but this is a brave and vibrant church holding this conversation there."
US Muslims are estimated between six to seven million.
A US survey has revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
A recent Gallup poll, however, found 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least “a little” prejudice against Muslims.
The Presbyterian pastor opines that negative images were very limited in a huge Muslim population worldwide, estimated at 1.5 billion.
"The fact is that people who match these negative descriptions are a tiny fraction; people need to remember that," Daniel said. "The main thing I want people to do is to use common sense and think through what they are saying and hearing."
Out of about 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, the CIA suspects there are fewer than 20,000 active members of terrorist organizations in the world.
The successful event was praised by Rev. Steve Harrington who said that Sunnyvale Presbyterian enjoys hosting such events.
"While we are a Christ-centered church, we are also interested in learning about others and contributing to a culture of respect and civility at a time when our society is becoming more and more polarized," Harrington said in an email.
"Conversations and opportunities to learn beyond yourselves are always good things to pursue."
Pamela Marino, one of the event organizers, agreed that the event was an overall success.
"Some people are asking if we can do interfaith events in the future, which is definitely something that is being thought about," Marino said.
May 5, 2015 _ 10:01 AM