(Mat 5:44 NKJV) "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who
curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who
spitefully use you and persecute you,
On Sep 11, 2001, a series of attacks using suicide bombers on airplanes was carried out on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, by al-Qaeda, a hard line Muslim group supported by the Islamic Taliban regime of Afghanistan. The death toll was 2,996. It awakened a Christian Right response cementing Bush to power and starting two wars which have killed many fold times the deaths at 911. In Iraq, the documented civilian deaths are over 100,000. There are more than 6,000 deaths for the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan. The world hasn’t become safer and the war is still raging based on religious extremisms.
After the 911 incident, at the memorial services, President Bush took time to explain that it was not the fault of any religion. The majority are said to be moderates. However, these radicals had the backing of Islamic hard-line regimes such as the Taliban supported by the people of Afghanistan. The American CIA in the 80s had overlooked their religious extremism in order to come against the Russians. It is a lesson learnt that we cannot ignore religious extremism, for it is a sliperry slope from being moderate.
The common view that most are moderate fails to explain state sponsored acts in the name of religion. Americans are also guilty of invading Iraq fueled by the Christian Fundamentalist trying to find imaginary weapons of mass destruction. Fundamentalism often deprives us of intellectual reflection and common humanity and concern for others. Sadam Hussein was no Saint but invading Iraq only gave excuses for a religious war prompting further radicalization.
Should we judge a religion based on the state religions? Their hard line actions often contradict our assertions that these religions are about love. For example, the Islamic Regimes in Iran and Saudi Arabia hanged thousands of gays. The latest outrage is the conviction of stoning to death of an alleged adulterer Ms. Ashtiani. Her fate will be soon no different than many thousands of gays hanged by this regime just because they were gays, justified by their religious faith. Basic human rights are the casualty of religious fundamentalism.
Do Christians worship the same God as Islam as proclaimed by some ? Jesus Christ clearly contradicted these law based religion choosing to die for us for our sins instead of persecuting others for failing to abide by the law. He showed an entirely opposite Spirit, the way of grace, the way of love and mercy showing a very different God. Jesus asked us to love our enemies instead of an eye for an eye response. Perhaps, all religions are not that much different as seen by Christians in Singapore asking Gays to put into jails even though they did not come against us.
Ken Mehlman lamented “why gay voters never formed common cause with Republican opponents of Islamic jihad, whom he calls "the greatest anti-gay force in the world right now." Yet, who are we to condemn such actions or religious faiths. It is their faith that is sincerely practiced and supported by the vast majority of that nation and we have little right to intervene if they do decide to impose such harsh religious laws eg on alleged adulterer Ms. Ashtiani. At least they are consistent. In Singapore, the Christian Right here only insists that gays be put into jails, but if they were to be consistent they should also insist that the Government do likewise to divorcees, woman who had abortions, and all those who work on Sundays.
The radicalization of religion is common. The Dove World Outreach Center of Gainesville, Florida is planning to hold an "International Burn a Koran Day". Is there anything wrong with burning religious books since it does not physically harm others? Sometimes we worship the bible and other religious books but burnt people on the stake just like we hang thousands of gays. Another ministry under Bill Keller, is planning to set up a 9/11 Christian Center near Ground Zero starting Sept. 5. "I was in prayer and God said, 'Listen, if the Muslims can build a temple to their false god at Ground Zero, why can't there be a place dedicated to the true God of the Bible on that same area?'" said Keller.
For world peace, there should be a separation between state and religion, where the religion should be kept a private matter. Religious laws have no place in any state including 377A. There should be laws protecting religions from becoming radicalized and causing harm to others. The key is religious reciprocity, mutual respect and tolerance.
(James 2:8 NKJV) If you
really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love
your neighbor as yourself," you do well;
Whilst the bible calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves, it was in the context against those who insisted on strict obedience to the religious laws. Jesus warned them that when we break the “royal law” of loving others as ourselves by being hypocrites, we broke the whole religious laws. For when we are guilty of breaking one law, it is the same as breaking all of the laws.
Religions that are based on the OT laws are often influenced by religious fundamentalism where we fail show inpartiality and become hypocrites interpreting the laws loosely for ourselves but very strictly for others. That is why many Christian Right and the Muslim conservatives are strongly against gays for they are self righteous, and the laws became a way to justify themselves before God and man. Yet, they ignore violence, sexual abuse, adultery, corruption, divorce and abortions . They come against gays even though homosexuality is innate because they love themselves, their own sexuality. They consider themselves so good and righteous that even heaven itself would welcome them with open arms.
Yes, it is true that most religions are about love, not that they love others, but they love themselves. We actually worship ourselves, how good and righteous we are, and how law abiding and deserving we are to reach heaven. We blame the gays for being sinners and having a "gay agenda" because we have assigned our own sins on the poor gay lamb to be slaughtered. The only agenda is ours, our plan to rule the world and bring the kingdom of heaven here on earth.
True Christianity however should be reflective of God’s love, grace and mercy in Christ Jesus. For Christians, when we are radical it should be about loving people radically. If we love, we could even forgive those who perpetrated 911 and not invade the countries that caused it. That is true love. Otherwise, we may be no different than them, however loud we call ourselves as Christians.