Cone was a controversial figure and people were outraged by what he said, but ultimately, his right to raise the issues was affirmed by the community he was railing against. Cone pointed to a failure of religious belief in an unsparing way. God could handle the insult, even if his so-called followers could not.
What is remarkable about Cone’s challenge, leveled at white Americans in the U.S., is how applicable it is to the plight of Christians and other religious minorities living under Muslim rule in the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia.
Muslim doctrine, like the theology of white Christians that Cone condemned, encourages its adherents to believe that God has appointed them to rule over others, in this case Jews and Christians especially. This belief has been the source of untold suffering on the part of Christians, Jews, and others in Muslim majority countries throughout the world. It has been like this for centuries, and sadly enough this belief endures with lethal consequences.
In the past few years, Christian communities under Muslim rule have seen their men lynched, their churches blown up, their women raped and abducted, and in sum have been treated the way blacks historically were treated in the United States.
After listening to testimony from Christians from Iraq and Egypt, I simply cannot read passages from Cone’s The Cross and the Lynching Tree and not think of Coptic men being murdered by mobs of Muslim extremists in Egypt.
I cannot read this text and not think of Coptic women being spit on in the streets of Cairo because they will not wear the veil.
I cannot read Cone’s book and not think about Assyrians in Iraq being murdered in their churches by young men who have been told it is lawful and even necessary for them to kill non-Muslims.
Muslim hostility towards Christians creates an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty that Cone himself should be able to relate to.
[I remember] worrying about my father when he did not come home from work at the usual time in the evening. My brothers and I would watch anxiously out the window, hoping that the lights from every vehicle would be the lights from his pick-up truck.
His mother tried to reassure Cone that God would protect his father, but it didn’t help because he had “heard too much about white people killing black people to believe what she said without deep questioning.” Cone’s experience with white supremacy prompted him to ask:
If God loves black people, why then do we suffer so much. That was my question as a child; that is still my question.
One has to wonder why Cone and those who have embraced his arguments about white supremacy and privilege have failed to stand up to its Islamic analogue.
Are not the corpses of Christians murdered in Middle East and North Africa — on a regular basis — the strange fruit of Muslim supremacy?
If God loves Christians living in Muslim-majority countries, then why do they suffer so much?