In a true sign of our times, a Pennsylvania church and its pastor in Dallastown have been harassed after a message was added to the church sign wishing neighboring Muslims a “blessed Ramadan.” Trump supporter Matthew Jansen, an elected delegate to the Republican National Convention, is one of the irate people who called to denounce Rev. Christopher Rodkey and St. Paul’s United Church of Christ. So a demonstration of tolerance and civility became a rallying cry of religious hatred.
The church has been inundated with hang up calls and Jansen left a voicemail that called Rev. Rodkey “godless” and the sign “despicable” for simply wishing Muslim neighbors a happy holiday. Jansen said “It is unbelievable that … you would wish them a blessed Ramadan.” Well, it is really not that unbelievable for most people who value neighborly kindness and acceptance.
Jansen said later that he had driven past the church many times and has seen “disturbing things” on its sign. However, this one in his view “was over the top as far, as I was concerned.” He added “I don’t see Islam — or the Muslim belief — I don’t see it as legit.” Of course, that attitude puts him in the same intolerant mindset of some Islamic extremist groups that reject the faith of others (here and here and here). While Jansen did not threaten anyone, his response captures the rising intolerance and prejudice against Muslims in the country. The positive element of course remains this pastor and this church which took an opportunity to reach out to their neighbors on their common element of faith.