‘There is Nothing to be Afraid of,’ Pastor Says in New Book About Islam


ben-daniel-search-for-truth-about-islam-book-reach-and-teach-by-pam-marino-good-neighbor-storiesYou wouldn’t think the bastion of American TV motherhood, Donna Reed, would play into an impassioned argument in favor of people being less afraid of their Muslim neighbors. And yet, she does, as the role model and aunt of San Jose Presbyterian pastor Ben Daniel.

Daniel is the author of the recently released book, The Search for Truth About Islam; A Christian Pastor Separates Fact From Fiction. He told an audience in San Mateo on Saturday, May 4, that his Aunt Donna hired writers for her 1958-1966 show who were blacklisted during the McCarthy Era.

It was a bold move, since in the era of heightened fears about Communism, Reed exposed herself to being labeled a Community sympathizer, and possibly shut out of a career in Hollywood.

Just as his Aunt Donna’s brave actions helped allay America’s fears of Communists, either real or suspected, Daniel wants to allay the fears of today’s Americans.

“I want to be someone who is able to calm our fears. And that’s one of the most important things I hope comes out this book,” he said. “I hope I’m able to calm Americans’ fear of about Islam. Because, we are afraid of Muslims, and there is actually a lot of correlation between our fear of communism in the 1950s and our fear of Islam today.”

ben-daniel-search-for-truth-about-islam-book-reach-and-teach-photo-by-pam-marino-good-neighbor-storiesDaniel spoke to about 20 people at The Dove and Olive Works, as the guest of Reach and Teach, a bookseller and social justice educational products company. He read from the book, which strives to explain the basics of Islam to readers, and suss out the common fears people have of Muslims.

Throughout the book he details his international travels, as well as interviews with Muslim leaders in the Silicon Valley, in an approachable narrative. It’s a similar approach he took in his first book, Neighbor: Christian Encounters With “Illegal” Immigration.

In his research he sought to debunk some of the myths people have about Muslims, as well as bring to light the positive aspects of Islam for people who have been exposed to a steady diet of negative narratives over the past decade and more. One of his biggest surprises, he said, was that the treatment of women under Islam is actually quite positive, compared to commonplace assumptions. Likewise, he could find no credible data to link Muslims with terrorism.

“I want the average person who reads this book to not be afraid,” he said. “My mother told me at the outset, when I told her I wanted to do this  truthislam_1book, she said, ‘Write the book for me, because I struggle with Islamophobia even though I know I shouldn’t.’ So in many ways I wrote the book for my mom, for those who can’t shake the fear that has been drilled into them, which is all around us.

“I want people to not be afraid, because there is nothing to be afraid of. In fact the opposite is true. There’s a lot of great happiness and joy when we actually get to know each other.”

Update: See more of Daniel’s comments in a post I wrote after the Boston Marathon bombings.

Find out more about the book by reading the review by Craig Wiesner of Reach and Teach. You can also follow Daniel and the book—including info on upcoming appearances—on the book’s Facebook page.

Find out more about Reach and Teach by reading our story about it.





  1. […] founder of Islamic Networks Group (ING), and Ben Daniel, a local Presbyterian pastor and author of The Search for Truth About Islam; A Christian Pastor Separates Fact From Fiction, will speak and answer audience […]