"Mistrust those in whom the urge to punish is strong." Friedrich Nietzche

"Any and all non-violent, non-coercive, non-larcenous, consensual adult behavior that does not physically harm other people or their property or directly and immediately endangers same, that does not disturb the peace or create a public nuisance, and that is done in private, especially on private property, is the inalienable right of all adults. In a truly free and liberty-loving society, ruled by a secular government, no laws should be passed to prohibit such behavior. Any laws now existing that are contrary to the above definition of inalienable rights are violations of the rights of adults and should be made null and void." D. M. Mitchell (from The Myth of Inalienable Rights, at: http://dowehaverights.blogspot.com/)

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Thoughts on Burning the Koran*

In the Christian religion that I was brought up on, hating is a sin. You can’t get into Heaven if you are a hater. Jesus said: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44, KJB)

I have to wonder if the preacher in Gainesville, Florida, Terry Jones, who has said that he will burn a Koran on September 11th, has actually read and understood what Jesus meant. The Christian religion is supposed to be a religion of tolerance—despite all of the intolerance that those who claim to be Christians have shown in the past. I would expect a preacher to be the most tolerant of Christians because he has, supposedly, studied the Bible more that the laypeople.

What Pastor Jones is threatening to do is an act of hate, pure and simple. It is not an act of loving his perceived enemy, or of praying for those that have done us harm. It is merely a very human, very visceral act of anger and hatred. Shame on you Pastor Jones for calling yourself a Christian.

But, as to the actual act of burning a book, this is not a big deal, or shouldn’t be to anyone who is intelligent and logical. The book itself is not holy. The word of God is holy. The message is holy. The book is merely the printed word of God as—in the case of the Koran—interpreted by Muslim clerics over the ages. You can burn the book but you cannot burn the truth and the message of God.

I have to ask, considering all the uproar that this threat of book-burning has caused, how much uproar would there be in the Christian world if some Muslim Imam, say in Indonesia, decided to burn a Bible? How many Muslim clerics would condemn the act openly? Would it become the international incident that this has become? I think not.

But then, from the evidence that I have observed over the years, the Muslim religion, unlike Christianity, is not a religion of tolerance. For example: Salman Rushtie published The Satanic Verses in 1988. In February of 1989 a death fatwah (which is a legal pronouncement in Islamic countries) was placed against Mr. Rushdie. He had to go into hiding because he wrote a book that many clerics, if not all, in the Islamic world found to be offensive. That would be like the Pope declaring a death sentence on Dan Brown for writing The Da Vinci Code. No tolerance in the Islamic world.

Then there were twelve cartoonist for the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten who drew editorial cartoons depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad. That’s a no-no in the Islamic world. But this was Denmark. The cartoonist were not Muslim. There were death threats against those cartoonist, complete with rewards for their deaths. Further, in riots in Muslim countries related to those editorial cartoons at least 100 people died.

Then there is the case of Theo van Gogh, a controversial Dutch film maker who made a film about how the Islamic culture treats women. It upset an Islamic fundamentalist. While Mr. van Gogh was bicycling to work the Muslim man shot him eight time, then tried to decapitate him. Again, taking the Dan Brown novel, The Da Vinci Code, made into the movie by the same name, what happened to Mr. van Gogh would be like a Christian fundamentalist killing the producer or director of that movie. Hard to imagine in our tolerant, Western world, isn’t it? Not hard to imagine in the intolerant Islamic world, though.

Need more. Here is a quote from the Koran (2:194): “So if anyone transgresses against you, you should pay back in equal coins.” Not exactly like turn the other cheek or pray for those who abuse or persecute you, eh? Of course, there are few really true Christians. How can a true Christian believe in revenge or going to war and killing the enemy? That is totally un-Christ-like. And no, we can’t be perfect, like Christ. But we are supposed to try and behave like Christ would want us to, aren’t we? Take that thought to its logical conclusion.

And don’t bring up the Old Testament and an eye for an eye. That is the Hebrew holy book. Christians, to be called Christians, have to accept and embrace the New Testament, about the teachings of Jesus Christ. And Christ did not say an eye for an eye. He preached tolerance and forgiveness and praying for those that were your enemy. That’s 180 degrees different than the Hebrew’s Old Testament God.

Well, Islam is Islam. Those people have, in my opinion (which has been shaped by Western philosophy, the Declaration of Independence, and the U.S. Constitution) the right to believe whatever they want. To act upon what they believe in our country is quite another thing. There is no right to murder other people over words, even words that discredit or belittle your religion.

However, for Pastor Jones and the radical Islamic jihadists, here is something else to consider: God, the Almighty Creator God, doesn’t need your help to protect Him or His Word. He can do it Himself. And, no, He doesn’t need you to work as His tool. If He wanted to, if He thought it was necessary, He could kill anyone, at any time, anywhere in the world. Therefore, He could have killed Salman Rushtie, the twelve Danish cartoonists, Theo van Gogh, or Dan Brown for that matter. But He didn’t. Perhaps He will take the matter up with them later, after they die. It is not up to you to kill them in the name of what you belief to be your God’s will. When you, as a mere human, act in an intolerant way, you are merely projecting your human emotions into the situation that you find to be offensive. Emotions are, by definitions, irrational.

Finally, for those of you who didn’t know: Jews, Christians, and Muslims are people of the book. What does that mean? That means that the first five books of the Christian Bible are held in common with the Jews and Muslims. That means that the Jews, Christians, and Muslims all believe in the same Almighty Creator God.

How, then, can we be so separated in our other beliefs? And which religion does God think is the one true religion? I don’t know. He hasn’t spoken on that Himself, only the religious leaders of those three faiths have. And, of course, those lay people who have been indoctrinated from birth by one of those various religions know, with absolute certainty, that they are the true believers.

Me? I’m in favor of tolerance. Pastor Jones. You can’t burn the Koran and call yourself tolerant or a Christian.

* I use the spelling, Koran, instead of the more politically correct version, Qur’an, because English doesn’t have the guttural sound that I think people are trying to get by using the Q instead of the K. In English, the closest we can get to it is the K sound and I write and speak in English.

No comments: