Since Obama opened the door comparing Christianity to Islam I will be willing to walk through it. I also have considerably more letters after my name in both academics as well as theology in addition to quite a bit more experience in the field than Mr. President. In comparing any religions to each other there is a need to first separate the religion from the believers. It is true that both Christianity and Islam have believers who put the religion to shame by living a life in total disregard for the precepts of each religion. This is obvious through such nutty groups as the Westboro Baptist and many ultra conservative fundamentalist churches. They try to root their behaviors in a particular interpretation of the scriptures but must use only certain scriptures in order to justify their behaviors. There is really no question regarding the Westboro Baptist as being totally removed from the scriptures, Christianity and even reality. In ultra conservative fundamentalist churches ranges from churches where the practice snake handling in the back hills to churches where any woman cutting her hair is seen as a prostitute, people who dance or go to movies are Hell bound, the divorced are excommunicated and righteous is a term more aptly applied to self and not God. They miss the mark by forgetting the rest of the Scriptures such as the New Testament and the command to love one another. This command does not simply include those you like and with who you are in agreement. Any church that cannot apply all the scriptures to its practices needs to be reviewed as being in contradiction with Christianity. The nut-jobs of Islam are a little easier to be seen because they are the ones going around cutting people’s heads off and screaming praises to allah while so doing. They are the ones burning people alive. Yet according to the precepts of Islam they are commanded not to harm another fellow follower of Islam.
One of the biggest differences between the two is that Christianity has included in the basis, being the scriptures, the idea of change. This is the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament. I hear Obama quote the Old Testament but cannot remember him quoting the New Testament. In the New Testament it does not call for anyone to be put to death. It does not call for anyone to be shunned and it does not call for anyone to be abandoned. It calls for loving one another. A major difference between Christianity and Islam is that Christianity via the New Testament (and you cannot just Christianity by the Old Testament since Christ is New Testament era), commands reaching out to others who do not believe the same. It commands the believer to be loving and caring to non-Christians. Within the koran there is not such command. Actually the commands within the koran is for the follower of Islam to kill the non-believer. There is no command for love in the koran. There is no precept for reaching out to non-believers. There is not concept of redemption for the fallen. There is only the command for death. This is a major difference between the principles of these two religions.
Now there are interpretations of the religions and the different holy scripts. Because of various personal interpretations of the script the follow of Islam can find freedom from the command to kill. They look for and find key precepts via other documents which establish key pillars of Islam through interpretations. Much like within Christianity both religions believe that many scriptures were given to a particular time and event. With this as a basis then there can be more of an understanding between the two faiths. With the acceptance that both religions have cultural mandates that do not necessarily apply to present time then it is easier to see their use of Allah as just another term for God. But within the ancient concept and time there are some evidences that the term ‘allah’ might not be the same as the Christian’s term ‘God’. Both religions need to be open to examination. Any religion that is afraid of examination needs to revalue their faiths. If it cannot be examined then there must be weaknesses which need to be protected. Any church or group of followers of any religion that cannot face the scrutiny of examination needs to be reconsidered as a true representative of that religion.
Religions are incorporated by people. As long as people are involved then there will be things that can be pointed to as being wrong in the eyes of others. Everyone will be their own critic and standard as to what is considered right or wrong as they examine the lives of others. But that is again a basic precept of any true religion that wants to be part of the present age. There must be the acceptance of others. Any religion that demands that anyone not part of that religion is to be commended to death is a dying religion. Any religion that feels it must use physical or emotional violence to keep their people in control is not a religion I personally wish to be in association. The Muslims have their aspects of their religion that wants all non-Muslims to be put to death. The Christians have within some of their churches the idea that all non-Christians need to be viewed as less than because they have not ‘seen the light’. In both cases the religions are supposed to be a representation of a Supreme Being. What makes anyone or anything supreme? Is it the power to rule? If so then the world would be under a dictator. Is it the power to produce fear? If so then why are people programed to want to live in peace. Is it the power to eliminate all who do not follow a certain path? If so then why did this Being give us a will and common sense? Either this Supreme Being is something like us. Either this Supreme Being wants peace, acceptance of each other, love for everyone, and understanding or there was a major error in the way people have developed. Any religion that presents a Supreme Being in any light other than actually caring for others does not deserve to be called anything other than evil. Any religion that does not see that the only one who has any claim to being better than anyone else is the Supreme Being and everyone else is all just as important and non-important as each other has lost sight of the Supreme Being. Since everyone is the same in the eyes of the Supreme Being no one has the right to demand their religion be honored over another. Since I lived long enough to accept my religion then that means the Supreme Being was tolerant of me while I was not a believe and therefore demands that I be tolerant of others who may not believe as I do. If I am demanding and intolerant then I am not an example of that Supreme Being. The purpose for religion was supposed to be to bring people into a spiritual understanding and relationship with the Supreme Being. Spirituality is the reason for all of religion and that which gives meaning and life to religion. Without Spirituality all religion, any religion, is just a dead dry lifeless pack of rules and regulations.