In today’s debate over the responsibility of Muslims to rein in their excesses and terrorist activities, one writer posted some thoughts and questions.
In my particular stream of Christian experience there is a principle called “rightly dividing the Word” which usually concerns Bible study, but is a form of critical thinking that is applicable to thinking about issues, especially religious issues that we face in our present world. In that spirit I want to look at Dingo’s piece, Can We Ever Really Get Rid of the Messages of Hate?
One of his first statements is “a conversation I had yesterday….made me wonder, how much control the average Muslim has over these radical Muslim clerics. After all, I have no control over the radical Christian leaders.”
Following with several examples of his idea of Christian radical and violence-advocating leaders. Paul Hill -Reverend Bray -Reverend Fred Phelps -Jerry Fawell .
His next statement “While I don’t, for a second, think that the Muslim community is without fault in allowing the messages of hate and murder to flow from its mosques and schools, I also don’t think it is as easy as many Americans may think it is.” is also closely followed by his contention with Christians and their purported wrongs.
He concludes with “If we can’t reign in our own religious leaders from preaching hate, how can we blame the entire Muslim community for not being able to reign in their radical clerics.”
But I say, are we looking at similar situations? Just because you use similarities in terms, does this mean actual likeness in the objects of our reference? Moreover is Islam and Christianity enough alike to conclude similar outcomes?
First, let’s examine what we are looking at when we speak of the Muslim community exhibiting some internal control in the production of world violence and terrorism. We aren’t saying that the expectation is to control everyone’s mouth. The call to the Muslim community is to express rejection of those extreme elements, and to stop harboring and enabling the terrorists and their cells. To expose those who bankroll and encourage the slaughtering of people, the dissemination of terror for the sake of terror, and the intolerance of anyone unlike themselves. That is being asked, and it is a reasonable request. Stop supporting terrorists in your midst. Plain and simple.
I don’t believe Islam has the type of shunning and excommunication process of Christianity, but every religious and culture group has a peer system of pressure against those things which are taboo. We are saying to call outright unmerited murders of people taboo, and show in their actions and their statements that it is so. Stop enabling, stop excusing, stop winking your eyes at the evil in your midst, arising from your own.
This does not mean that the radicals won’t speak and teach their poisons anymore, it means that it will not be supported and approved by the group.
The basic premise which we have proven in our society is that the average guy does have influence over the leaders with prestige and power simply in withholding compliance and support. Leaders are nothing without followers. Simple truth. Leaders know this, how is it that Dingo has problems with the connection?
When I first read this post of Dingo’s I felt he was asking honest questions, but as I have looked with a narrowed eye here, what do I see? Displacement of the accusations… no longer are we discussing the problems of Islam in encouraging terrorism, no. We are now listening to the airing of complaints against Christians. After a sufficient case is made to blame them, we hear the wail of what can be done to expect any compliance on the part of Muslims? How can they accomplish or be expected to accomplish any sort of temperance of their violence?
Let’s look at this.
First, as a Christian I am only familiar with a couple of these named offenders of the Christian label. And one of those was not promoting hate or violence. Jerry Falwell’s comment on 9/11 was his opinion concerning God’s judgment. While it might be taken as approval of the events, I don’t believe – as a Christian who knows about such teaching- that this was his intent.
What it is in fact closest to, is the Left’s view that the terrorism we see is a result of the West’s actions. That is what it is closest to in spirit. Which in my opinion misses the point, but makes a lesser point. Not totally wrong, but wrong enough that it is an offensive stance to take. I don’t agree that we see such action/reaction results in these situations. We see accumulations of things that are very wrong, and that need a broadbased set of actions to right.
Phelps is outside the mainstream of what any Christian believes and thinks, and I will say this: more needs to be done to correct the message. More can be done. Perhaps as we look at the problems in the Muslim community it can help us see our own in a light that instructs us… but it is not apples and apples… and this must be made clear.
I would say first of all, that Christianity is clearly bound by tenets of peace. It has expressions of warfare, but these are relegated to spiritual fields in the teaching, in practice there is the rule to turn ones cheek and to bear with wrong as much as is possible. This is the personal responsibility, and the state has other responsibilities. The state must be a force for justice. and that will be so for those calling themselves Christians who overstep the bounds of law.
I don’t know that Islam has within itself the basic premises of peace. I know they claim to, but whether they can divest themselves of their violent tendencies I don’t know. It seems that jihad is intrinsic to the religion.
If it is, then Dingo gets his point, but not on the backs of Christians.
Not all fundamentalism is the same and not all has identical outcomes. It depends upon what one is fundamental about. And if that point is not driven home, then we are due to see some tragic injustices within our country.