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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Religious Intolerance

The Park 51, or more famously, 'Ground Zero Mosque' has brought to light American Christian- Muslim relations. I really thought things should be better, not worse than just after 9/11. Obama's election brought the first hints, but recent events really sealed it.

Religious Intolerance in the US

Today's show (Sept 16, 2010), is supposed to have religious leaders talking about Islam in America. I want to check that out as well.

Some interesting points were made about what people said and believed about Catholicism around the time of JFK's election.

From Norman Vincent Peale about Kennedy:

"Faced with the election of a Catholic, our culture is at stake."

"It is inconceivable that a Roman Catholic president would not be under extreme pressure by the hierarchy of his church to accede to its policies with respect to foreign interest, and that the election of a Catholic might even end free speech in America."

People say the same about Muslims today, but in less polite language and in more sweeping and dramatic tones. The end of free speech is pretty dramatic, though. I'll give him that.

Also on the Diane Rehm Show they talked about Catholics being prevented from holding office. I have read elsewhere about colonial times and various denominations would discriminate against the other in this way. On the show, they talked about in Nebraska in the '20s they shut down Lutheran schools because they read the Bible in German and apparently in Philidelphia there was a fight about which part of the Bible you read.


When I initially heard about this, I was horrified that it was 9/11 or Park 51 backlash. Then I thought, this sounds a bit like post traumatic stress. It did say he was embedded with US troops in Afghanistan, but he was a film student, not a soldier. Not that he can't get PTSD. Some details don't really fit with PTSD as far as I know.

He's got to "bring Abdallah through the checkpoint." That sounds like PTSD. "Consider this a checkpoint" sounds like he knows what he's doing, though, not like he thinks he's in Afghanistan. And afterwards, he claimed he was trying to rob the taxi driver, so that doesn't sound like PTSD. I'm no expert, though. I'm definitely not saying he shouldn't have to pay for seriously wounding the taxi driver either way. He definitely should serve time and get help if needed. I just half wonder if there isn't a PTSD issue or if you could tell if he was faking it.


Guy wants to burn Qurans. Guy links it to the Park 51 mosque. Is this terrorism? Hate speech? Is it yelling fire in a crowded theater? Protected speech? Is it right or wise or obligatory for a Christian to do?

This verse was mentioned in support of burning Qurans:

"Act 19:18-20 Many also of them that had believed came, confessing, and declaring their deeds. And not a few of them that practised magical arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all; and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of the Lord and prevailed."

My answer:

I don't think this is an example that we should burn every writing that is against God. That's going beyond what is written. An equivalent situation in my mind was if we had a mission in this country or another and converted a whole slew of Muslims to Christianity and they decided they would bring their Qurans, which represents something they once believe true but they now know is false, and burn them. That would have significance to them and perhaps signal to others that they have made a change. Maybe it would give them confidence. Who knows. My point is that the "pastor" in our current situation is in a very different position than the Acts 19 situation. He's burning something he never believed in to make some political point or provoke others or make money for his Dove Institution.

While burning books is certainly legal, I'm not a fan of that type of protest (burning books and flags) for myself. I personally know I could say more on a sign (I have). I seriously doubt his intentions. I don't think it helps the cause of Christ unless former Muslims do this without prompting as something they feel they need/want to do. All this aside from what Obama and Patraeus have said about the potential to harm troops. People have urged the press to censor itself about all types of news in order to not harm the troops or don't criticize the war or Bush or whoever because it will embolden terrorists. Why can't the "pastor" do this as well?

I mentioned reaching out to Muslims and teaching them, but the "pastor" also needs the truth. That's through what lens I want to look at things. Politics and human behavior are endlessly interesting, but we need to be about the business of teaching.

Another one I posted elsewhere:

The Quran burning stunt was pretty much either political or due to his problem with Muslims/Arabs.

Scheduling it for 9/11 says he thinks all Muslims are terrorists. It's political.

If it was false teaching he was worried about, he'd be burning the Book of Mormon, writings of John Calvin, other false Christian books and teachings. He'd be burning porn, books and movies that glorify breaking the law and homosexuality including mafia flicks, vampire stuff and such. There is a lot to burn if that were his purpose, but he chose the Quran to single out. Hmmm. I mean, most Christians know and speak it loudly that the Quran is false teaching. Seems like if you want to make a real statement instead of just make Muslims afraid and mad, you'd burn something that Christians accept, but that can cause our ruin. Lottery tickets. Money. iphones. Whatever. A popular one has been books that contain cuss words or sex scenes that kids are required to read in school. Make your congregation wear plain clothes or uniforms to make a point about materialism. There is a ton you could do if you wanted without provoking people and "making a point" that people already know well.

On Friday or Saturday it was said said he called it off and it was linked to Park 51 changing it's location.

I don't know whether this was an afterthought for Mr. Jones or if this was the original purpose; I found out about it late in the controversy. And we're back. The Great Mosque Debate. He thinks all Muslims are terrorists. It's political. It's not just about calling attention to false teaching. Burning is an act that could go terribly wrong. It seems less in line with the Christian teachings of preaching the gospel to all the world and living peaceably with all men as much as depends on us.

Living with Muslims would be refreshing, especially in America. Why can we not appreciate that? They share our value of modesty. More so. They don't drink. There are more Christians who do. Homosexuality and premarital sex would be looked down upon as in the days our parents and grandparents remember fondly. They fast for a whole month and Christians are supposed to fast. The fast helps them think about the less fortunate and they are supposed to give to the poor as well during this time. This is familiar Christian territory as well. Their culture and religion values hospitality highly and they practice it often and enthusiastically. This is something Christians, and Americans for sure, can be lacking. Instead of our hospitality, we're known for being loud mouthed and culturally tone deaf. Christians and Muslims share close to the same belief in women being equal before God yet having different roles than men in worship. Culture in America has largely gotten rid of the value placed on men taking care of women and cherishing them, but this is alive and well in the Arab world.

I'm just saying that they have more in common with us than we Christians are willing to admit. People who have less in common, some denominations, pro- choice people, people into "sexual freedom", people who get drunk every weekend, people caught up in various sins in our community we make peace with (they're Americans, we have to work with them, hate the sin not the sinner, etc) and live with and may even be friends with- we don't go around burning things and provoking them and making fun of them or demanding that it is incumbent on them to make it clear that they mean us no harm and won't indoctrinate our kids, and if they don't it's ok for us to assume this and other horrible things about them.

Christians tend to be pretty hostile to Muslims and that bothers me. I'm not saying we should bend Biblical doctrine or convert to Islam. Absolutely not. But the hostility I just don't understand. Especially if you haven't asked them what they believe and what their opinions on things are. And even then why not disagree and leave it at that like you would your coworker who is of a different Christian denomination or different political party with whom you completely disagree?

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