This past Shabbat, as I was bundling children up to leave our synagogue, I overheard some other members grumbling about a mosque that was being established in the Boston area—I forget where. To be precise, they were grumbling that some other folks were concerned about a Mormon center being established in the area, whereas we all should be concerned about the mosque; we should hope that the Mormons go and proseletyze the Muslims.
My observation that Muslims, unlike Mormons, are strict monotheists only prompted a recitation of anti-Muslim talking points, and I regret that I could not think on my feet fast enough to give each one the answer it deserved.
In particular, to the complaint that the Koran advocates violence against unbelievers, I should have said: “Today is Shabbat Zachor. Less than two hours ago, we heard in the Haftarah about how King Saul lost his dynasty because he didn’t obey God’s command to kill every man, woman, and child in the nation of Amalek. Aren’t we in a really bad position to be judging other religions based on the plain text of their holy books?”
Also, in response to “would you want a Muslim living next door to you?” I should have said “Have neighbors who follow a religion requiring them to abstain from alcohol? I would bake them a frigging cake. If there’s some hadith that also forbids pissing off a balcony, I would bake them two cakes.”
I’m sure I will have other opportunities to practice such responses in the future, though. Unfortunately.