Carissa Zaffiro | Contributor
I won't soon forget where I was sitting when I first heard about the deadliest attack in modern New Zealand's history.
49 human beings were killed with a semi-automatic weapon by a self-proclaimed white supremacist who carried a video camera to record his massacre. Another victim would lose his life to injuries in the hospital that day among the 50 more wounded. This is a stain on the history of human decency and democracy in New Zealand, and is a tragedy that should mark Christians living in America deeply as we also recognize the impact on our Muslim friends and neighbors.
Why this Matters for all Muslims
For Muslims, gathering for prayer is one of the most beautiful symbols on earth. The position of kneeling with your forehead to the ground is an action of deepest reverence and vulnerability. It is this very position of humility in which innocent men, women and children were attacked. They were not armed nor were they provoking violence. They were exercising their right to worship.
Why this Matters for all Christians
When a terror attack is carried out by a Muslim, the media is quick to give us fodder to feed anti-Islamic sentiments. Christians point to the Muslim community and ask why they do not condemn Muslim terrorism.
Though the Australian gunman did not espouse Christian views, the roles are reversed here and we must stand up and categorically condemn the brutality against our Muslim neighbors and show our support for them in the aftermath.
A natural response could be to point to the attacks carried out by Muslims against Christians.
"We will show the power of the gospel far more if we show the love of Christ to those who suffer than we will if we merely point to Islamic terror attacks," Nicholas Kerton-Johnson, professor of political science said.
Jesus tells us to love the vulnerable and wounded regardless of their nationality or religious beliefs. Moments like these test our ability to practice our faith and walk like Jesus.
Kevin Diller, associate professor of philosophy religion commented on how faith in Christ often aligns with protecting the welfare of other peoples and faiths.
Kerton-Johnson notes that the heart of liberal democracy is protecting the right of expression for any citizen regardless of their beliefs.
Living in a democracy means we fight for each other's right to religious expression; living as a Christian demands we unconditionally love and care for those we come into contact with every day.
What Can I Do as a College Student?
No matter what you believe theologically about Muslims or what you think politically about immigration, Muslims are in our communities. They work in our businesses, go to our schools, and worship peacefully in nearby mosques.
Let's learn how to love and support Muslims better together. The best way to do this is simply by building relationships with them. These kinds of relationships are the ones that will bring the fruit of change and will ultimately unite a religiously and politically divided nation.
If you would like to join more initiatives to reach out to your Muslim neighbors as an individual or floor, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.