Thursday, September 16, 2010

Religion Makes People Cruel

There is no need to rehearse the regrettable and heartbreaking actions of Terry Jones to burn the Quran.  It, however, points to actions that are all too common for people who bear the name Jesus.

At a lecture at UC Berkeley atheist numero uno, Richard Dawkins, said that there is a clear and logical pathway from religious belief to the committing of atrocities.  For secularism or atheism, though, there is no such logical pathway.  Even though his second point is easily contested, there is plenty of evidence that the first is true.  And I admit that with great sadness.

Have you seen the movie "The Stoning of Soraya M."?  A woman is brutally executed under the name of morality and religion.  Extremists are killing and preparing to kill every day in the name of a god. Conservative-religious pundits get on TV to rally against their latest cause, further dividing our communities.  History books and modern media are littered with tales that would stack up all kinds of evidence to support Dawkins' claim.

Any injustice, any hurt, any cruelty, any evil done for any reason is despicable.  However, when the name of Jesus is attached to bigotry, injustice, and harm done to others it is especially heartbreaking.

Any "Christian" can stand up and say whatever they want to say, and there are more medium available now than ever.  (Including this Christian on this blog!)  On facebook, on the news, on youtube, etc. one person's words and actions become the representation of a whole faith group.  This hurts.

It makes me want to create a organization that pulls together all the groups that don't stand behind injustice and self-righteous actions against others so that one representative can stand up for us and say, "No, in the name of Jesus, we do not agree with this cause, that statement, those atrocities.  In the name of Jesus we stand with the victims of these actions."

I know, however, that this would not work nor be helpful.  This all makes me wonder why God would entrust people so prone to evil with His name, His truth, and His mission.  His name, His Word, His purposes are so easily twisted and thwarted to support whatever human agenda any given person wants to pursue.  So, what are we to do?  How do we let the world know that the Terry Jones types are not acting under the authority of Jesus?  How do we show the world that there are Christians who are not angry about all the things conservative politics and fundamentalist religion tells us to be angry about?  How do we show the world that the "logical pathway" of real Christian faith is to be peacemakers, to express solidarity with the poor and victimized, to cherish human life in the womb and out of it regardless of nationality, to share the immeasurable riches of Jesus with the world around us?

I am assuming that there is no marketing campaign large enough and effective enough to "re-brand" the Christian image for the world.  I am assuming that public opinion is not our concern.  I am assuming that it is simply my job, your job, our job to go about loving others with the radical grace and inclusion of Jesus that His name may be honored among them.  I am assuming that God is big enough to handle some bad press, and he is still satisfied to let His body, His church be His image in the world.

Let's be honest where our faith has led us to look with hatred or ill will upon others made in His image.  Lets be honest when our agenda begins to take over God's mission.  Let's make sure all we do can be reconciled with the cross, the radical love of Jesus to dispense with His blood to His enemies the immeasurable riches of His Kingdom. The true prodigal has always been God.  Let's love like that.  Let's renounce evil not just in its big and blatant forms but in the forms in takes in our hearts when we label other groups dehumanizing them b/c they think, act, live differently than we do.

"Love your neighbor as yourself."  There is only one command more important than that.  Let's take this second greatest command and follow its "logical pathway" to sacrificial giving, radical love, willing suffering for others, and a life-consuming passion to heal brokenness and evil in the name of Jesus.

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