Eye On… the U.S. – Assimilation vs. Acceptance

We’re all familiar with the idea of United States being a “melting pot”, in which different cultures and races combine to become one. It’s a persistent metaphor used to describe the process of immigrating to the United States, but is that what really happens? What does the combined product look like? Should we expect people from other cultures to become more like us, or is it okay for them to continue being of their home culture?

Perhaps, instead of the Great American Melting Pot, we are more like a Great American Quilt. We come with our own individual fabrics, and we are stitched together with common thread. Those in the square next to you may be quite different, but that needn’t stop us from finding common bond and building a relationship.

When discussing Muslims, we must remember that our Western, American understanding of religion is different from much of the rest of the world. In the United States, one can still be an American and not be a Christian. One might reject religion or faith entirely, and still move comfortably through American society and cultural life. For our Muslim friends, Islam can be quite a serious part of their national and cultural identity. In fact, the question of whether one can reject Islam and still be a Muslim has been debated with no real conclusion. Clothing, food, lifestyle, family dynamics, and even laws are informed by Islam (not to mention centuries of tradition).

When a Muslim family immigrates to the United States, what do we expect from them? Are we uncomfortable with their clothing… the foods they avoid… the way their families might operate? Would we rather that they become more like us before we reach out to them in friendship? How important is it that we share a meal and a meaningful conversation? Can we put our expectations of what is acceptable or American aside for the sake of spreading the gospel?

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One Response to “Eye On… the U.S. – Assimilation vs. Acceptance”

  1. How should I proceed after almost two years of friendship evangelism (to the operator of a dry cleaner)? The gospel was presented and initially she was open. But then she rejected it….maybe she was thinking of her husband and what he would say. What would be a good way to proceed from here?

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