|Religious persecution in Iraq|
In an AP article "Police unable to prevent rising violence against gays, Emo youths in Iraq" dated 12 Mar 2012, it was reported that 58 Gay Iraqis were killed in the first 6 weeks alone by religious people of faith. The widespread killing was undertaken by very well supported religious motivations. A total of 750 Iraqi gays have been killed due to religion since 2006.
A "kill gay" bill was recently distributed with Baghdad's Sadr City neighbourhood listed the names and details of 33 people with the following warnings:-
"We warn in the strongest terms to every male and female debauchee," "If you do not stop this dirty act within four days, then the punishment of God will fall on you at the hands ......." .
It is not a small minority with this religious zealous outlook. "There is a strong wave of campaigns by clerics against homosexuals now," said Ali al-Hilli, chairman of Iraqi LGBT group.
Whilst faiths such as Christianity have had a history of causing harm to gays, the cases have been isolated other than in Nazi Germany where thousands were murdered at the gas chambers. But that was 70 years ago, but for some faiths the slippery slope of harm continued till today.
It is ultimately the rights of the people of faith who is in the large majority to determine how they would live out their faith according to their religious scriptures and enforce the religious ruling on the rest of their community. However, grave injustice will not go unpunished forever for God is a just God and their community of faith will suffer.
We should be mindful lest we follow such religious faith path of injustice in Iraq against the innocent for even now arising in the Christian Faith in Uganda, gays are beginning to be targeted and killed by the law.
We don't expect the killing of gays to be reported in Christian progressive magazines such as Sojourners because it will impact their notion that at the core, the major faith religions were about "love" when it is actually about the strict religious laws and judgement for failing to abide.
The depths of true religion is reflected when they have absolute power and authority in a situation where they are of the vast majority - how would they treat those who are different from the majority, and against those who are their "enemies" ie those who converted to religious faith or have other faiths. Do they "live and let live"?
John 13: 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
We tend to generalise that all major faiths are about love but the onus is on the religious faith themselves to reflect this truth rather than regarded as something inherent and intrinsic when many religious text themselves actually sanctifies this call for violence.
In the Christian Faith, Jesus came not to legitimize the harsh religious laws and punishments by the religious authorities in the name of God. He came "not to judge" but to show love, grace and mercy.
Jesus did not emphasise on the religious Jewish laws, but that we are saved in believing in Him as God, dying and raising from death for our sins. In religion we are sin focused and sin conscious but in "true" Christianity, it is about an eternal salvation in the Kingdom of God, and about loving each other as Christ as loved us.
So much Christianity is about love, and not causing harm rather than being particularly prescriptive except for the core tennants of faith such as salvation and resurrection. There was a deliberate move away from the Jewish laws for the letter of the law kills especially to the oppressed and became a york of burden for oppression. Instead the Rock of Salvation is a rock of grace.
In the American presidential election, the GOP hopeful Rick Santorum was supported by the bible belt by those who claim to have the same moral values. We can't gain our morality by being anti-gay or by bearing arms, for morality is something within how we respect the basic rights and dignity of others, and how we show kindness and benevolence. The rest however is purely of religious faith works and hypocrisy and not of Jesus Christ.
Our prayer tonight is for Jesus to protect those who are in hiding in Iraq in fear of death because they are gay. May they know Jesus Christ, their hope and salvation. Through this valley of the shadow of feath, may the reality of God be close to them and lead them through this life difficult paths.
Phil 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.