The Visual Advocate Blog

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater


One of the many news vans parked outside the local mosque in my city.

I didn’t plan to write this post until last night when I found out that someone tried to set the mosque in my city on fire because the 19-year old Somali immigrant who tried to detonate a bomb during the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Pioneer Square in Portland, Oregon occasionally worshiped there.

As soon as my wife and I heard about this we called our Muslim friends to tell them we were praying for them and ask if there was anything we could do. I ended up going to the mosque to talk and eat with the leaders as a sign of my friendship and support.

I arrived right before evening prayers began so after chatting briefly with a few of my Muslim friends, they took their place in line to pray and I sat in the back and waited for them to finish.

After the prayers ended we went downstairs to eat and talk more about what had happened at Pioneer Square and why someone would try to burn down the mosque.

Remnants of Qurans that were not totally destroyed by the fire.

Everyone I talked with shared the same thing; they didn’t want people to think that this terrorist represented them, their mosque or the global system of Islam. Having spent a lot of time with these guys as well as with Muslims around the world, I knew what they were saying is true. We must not believe the major media that makes it seem that terrorism is a foundational part of Islam. The reality is that only about 4% of Muslims world wide are the fanatical types behind acts of terrorism like what happened in Portland.

Flowers and notes outside the mosque demostrating support for the Muslims in our city

So I just want to end with this. Please don’t let fear stop you from taking the steps to reach out to Muslims you know. In our post 9/11 world we must not let fear drive up to believe stereotypes and biases about people that are not true. Yes there are people in the world who call themselves Muslims and are doing horrible things. But the reality is there are people from every religion in the world doing things that dishonor God and perpetuate hateful stereotypes, biases and prejudice that divides peoples and cultures. Let’s not let our lives be ruled by fear.


Author: The Visual Advocate

Joe Murray, The Visual Advocate, is a Humanitarian and Cultural photographer based in Decatur, Georgia. Joe began his photographic career as an adventure and landscape photographer, but a month-long trip to India in 2009 deeply impacted him and proved to be a turning point in his life and photographic vision. Today, Joe is dedicated to using his craft to create and share compelling images and stories of the lives of the peoples and cultures of the world. While Joe loves and appreciates all the peoples and cultures of the world, he has a particular vision, passion and love for India and South Asia. As both an experienced photographer, public speaker, recruiter and advocate, Joe's goal as a visual artist is not simply to create awareness, but to move people to use their lives and resources to be a blessing to the world's most poor, abused, displaced, stereotyped and overlooked peoples.

6 thoughts on “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater

  1. I would to thank very much Joe for your beautiful words and support, it made me feel a lot better, I am glad that we have people like in our life, and my thanks goes to your wife and family as well.

  2. Let’s step up and show Muslims how much God loves them and how he sent Jesus on behalf of ALL of us.

  3. Decisions motivated by fear are never wise ones! Let God use this opportunity to bless our respective cultures with greater understanding about each other. Let calm nerves and compassionate hearts prevail. Let us love the people our media often misunderstands and misrepresents! Let us press in with support and encouragement rather than widen the ‘gap of stereotypes and misconceptions.’ Let’s not be fooled by hype and hysteria, let’s NOT be motivated by fear! Let’s seek opportunities to unite without abandon!

  4. Thank you Joesph for the allowing God to use your life and testimony in critical times.

  5. Joe,

    Great opportunity to extend and demonstrate grace. I’m hoping to attend the candle light vigil Tuesday at 5:30.


  6. I had not heard anything about the Portland (foiled) attack until Jamie told me a few days later. I did not know it had consequences down in Corvallis. Embracing fear and turning against all Muslims is definitely a disappointing reaction, but I cannot say that it surprises me as even amongst more “religious” people there is a strict separation between us. Some embrace the fear and anger and react harshly towards Muslims; others (like you) choose instead to see these attacks by Muslims for what it truly is – the actions of a minority. I think the only way this will change (on both sides) is through people listening to Jesus and allowing God to actually change them. My $0.02

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