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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Islamajudachristiaphobia



I've had this on my mind for a while, but the events happening with this Pastor Terry Jones in Florida have compelled me to write this evening. 

I'm not the most religious of people. I'm not perfect. I'm no saint and I'm not trying to be. I'm not here to speak the truth for any one faith, and I find truths in many of this world's faiths - many of which define my spirituality. 

Yet here, tonight, as the Jews celebrate a new year, I sit here unsettled because this one man, with a congregation of fifty, and a penchant for the dramatic, wants to burn the Quran, the Holy Bible as it were, to those of the Islamic faith. 

Let me be clear on something. The Quran did not fly planes into the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001. Fanatics, brainwashed by an evil man, did. Islam did not and does not teach violence. This zealot extremist did. So called Muslims might have hijacked those planes that day, but the faith of their fathers, and the faith of millions of people - including millions of Americans - did not. 

I tend to believe in the God of the bible. I choose to embrace the teachings of Jesus. The thing I know - and I'm no religious scholar, nor have I studied all of the intricacies of the different faiths - is that each of these major religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam, begin with the phrase "In the beginning..." 

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth..." Genesis 1:1. 

God. We all share the same God. We all believe in the same God. And while there are decidedly different paths, each lead to the same God.

And to me, my God wouldn't want me to burn a Quran. 

I just don't see this as being anything remotely "holy."

I see it as self serving. 

I see it as grandstanding. It's PT Barnum type antics which are like throwing gasoline on a smoldering fire pit. And the man doing them is no more than a shaman, a traveling snake oil salesman who desires fame, the spotlight and his 15 minutes on the viral stage no matter the cost. 

And, this being America, he has the right to free speech. I'll defend it to the death, and I'll defend his right to say what he has to say to the death. 

But responsibility is something different. 

This Quran-burning is irresponsible. It's not patriotism. It's not religion. 

We're a country founded by people who left England because of religious persecution. We're religious misfits, who left to find a place where we could believe in what we believe free from the oppression of the establishment. 

And that's why it's un-American. It's divisive, and these people, from the Glenn Becks (whom I love for what he's about as a radio host) to the Sarah Palins to this clown in Florida, each of whom are playing to religious extremism for personal glory, are all guilty of betraying the very nation they claim to believe in. They have the right to do so, but it's irresponsible, and they don't speak for America. 

In the Holy book I choose to follow, there's a verse which I think needs to remembered here by the religious and the non-religious alike in this situation. It applies to this situation today, and, in this case, I'm thinking it might be what our mutual God might want us to remember at this time. It comes from the New Testament, and it says, "Above all, love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sins..." 1 Peter 4:8. 

I'm also reminded of the Old Testament, in Proverbs 10:12, where we're urged to remember that "Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs." 

And, as the Quran says, "Repel (evil) with what is better. Then will he, between whom and thee was hatred, become as it were thy friend and intimate. And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint." Chapter 41, Verse 34 and 35. 

These people in Florida are no different than those who flew these planes into the World Trade Center on 9/11. They're zealots who have stopped believing in the words from the God they claim to follow. 


I'd tell you that what this pastor is doing is no different than what Osama has done. 

It's the opposite side of the spectrum. It's extreme. It's radical. It's hate speech. And it's NOT America. 

Again, it's NOT America.

We have a responsibility as the bastion of freedom in the world to make sure that these extremists don't win. As a world, we have the right to live free from the fear of extremism. 

And we can't lose hope. I'm hopeful that these religious extremists... on both sides... listen. This man is not about American Patriotism, nor does he speak for God. 

He's an extremist.

He's Osama Bin Ladin with a bible, a bonfire and no followers. 

And he doesn't speak for me. Or America. 

I hope this makes sense. I hope the world will take notice. 

Here's to hoping tomorrow is better than today, and thanks for reading.