As for the specifically Islamic forgery, Prideaux set out its characteristics as illustrative of any other false religion in another book of the same period, :[vii] An impostor religion would always (1) serve some “carnal interests,” (2) be led by wicked men, (3) have “Falsities” at the very heart of the religion, (4) use “craft and fraud” to accomplish its ends, (5) be backed by conspirators who would eventually be revealed, and (6) be spread by force.
Eighteenth-century Anglo-Americans widely attributed all these characteristics to Islam.[viii] In fact, these are all old Christian polemical tropes on Islam, but they were made more attractive and spread more willingly because of contemporary stories of American and European enslavement by the North African corsairs. The colonists who promoted the ideals of revolution against Britain often used Islamic states as a foil for mounting their attacks.
With all the backlog of anti-Islamic rhetoric swirling around in American discourse, it is not difficult to guess that the new political reality was only going to make it more intense and more strident.
On the one side, a president who personally identified with conservative Protestants but who also took his leadership role seriously, George W.
Naturally, feelings only intensified when the new American republic’s ships faced attacks in the Mediterranean, making it feel both vulnerable and rather impotent militarily. frigate Philadelphia was captured two years later by the Tripolitans, who thus enslaved three hundred more Americans.
Algerian ships commandeered two ships in 1785 and eleven more in 1793. in 1801 and President Thomas Jefferson announced a blockade against it. The Americans managed to free them a couple of years later at minimal cost, but then in 1815 a new war broke out with the State of Algiers.The famous Boston pastor Cotton Mather once quipped, “We are afar off, in a Land, which never had (that ever heard of) one Mahometan breathing in it.”[ii] Yet they felt themselves to be knowledgeable about Islam through the proliferation of sermons and books on that topic.The other source was the reality of Americans, along with Europeans, who were enslaved by the “Barbary Pirates” of North Africa.[iii] Already in the 1670s, several stories of North American captives caught the attention of the colonists, but especially that of the appointed royal governor of Carolina, who was abducted in 1679 and later freed by ransom.An historical perspective is crucial in understanding today’s dynamics between these two groups, even if, as David Johnston argues here, very little has changed in over three centuries.Johnston takes his lead on this subject from the work of Baylor University’s Thomas S.Bush, repeated over and over that the “War on Terror” was a war against Muslim extremists who choose to use violence to further their agenda, and not against Islam or Muslims.Mainline Protestants and some evangelicals, along with the U. Conference of Catholic Bishops all praised the president’s approach, though not his 2003 war on Iraq.By holding up Islam as a plain case of religious forgery, he hoped to defend Christianity’s integrity.From the start he anticipates accusations of demonizing Islam, but he promises to “approach Islam judiciously.”[vi] That said, he had little first hand knowledge, and what he did think he knew was often wrong.In the course of his reading, he isolates three matrices, which shed complimentary light on evangelical attitudes to Islam: political events and constraints, the prophetic or eschatological biblical interpretations, and concerns related to Christian mission in relation to Muslims.Colonial Americans had no idea that many of the slaves on their shores were actually Muslims.