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Preventing That Which We Fear: The Church’s Role in Countering Radicalization
Gustafson, Scott. “Preventing That Which We Fear: The Church’s Role in Countering Radicalization.” Evangelical Missions Quarterly 56, no. 3 (July 2020): 18–21.
Author(s): Scott Gustafson
When mass migration found a peak in late 2015, the volume of isolationist rhetoric, vitriolic fear, and blatant ethnocentrism increased markedly. Anti-Muslim and anti-refugee sentiment reached a modern high, and homegrown radicalization became a growing fear in the West. The preferred scapegoat was the Middle Eastern Arab Muslim refugee, often depicted as a radical. The vast majority of moderate Muslims and Christians share a collective disdain for the expressions of Islamic radicalization. But responses from the church both to increased Western rhetoric and radicals themselves are inconsistent. While secular approaches to radicalization have been dominated by kinetic military responses, we may have much to learn from the gospel-centric approaches of the Middle Eastern indigenous church that is quietly serving refugees. Highlighting stories of conversion and de-radicalization gathered from on-ground ministries working among refugees in the Middle East, and recent literature on the process of radicalization, this paper seeks to dispel stereotypes and implore the church to engage proactively in Muslim communities both here and abroad. It makes the case that church has a role to play in preventing radicalization as a direct positive consequence of the great commission, and may very well, in carrying out its core mission, prevent the very thing that it fears.