Saturday, May 30, 2015

Freedom and the Price of Hate

Courtesy @EricEnglish15

On May 29th, it appears several hundred gun-toting individuals in Phoenix, Arizona thought the best way to express their anger was to stand in front of a mosque during Friday prayers

The anger, they said, was toward "Islam" for being violent. The irony here is palpable. What they wanted to do was have a "Draw Muhammad" contest in front of the mosque in order to provoke Muslims in the mosque to come and show their supposed "true colors."

What's weird to me is that these "protesters" were showing immediately how violent they were without even being provoked. Is surrounding a place of worship with weapons how you want to represent yourself? Do you think that Jesus would have wanted that? It's easy to pick and choose quotes from religious texts in order to justify your behavior, but clearly no one in that crowd read Matthew 22: 36-40

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
When I was young and learning about Christianity, I never formed a picture of God and Jesus Christ as hateful and murderous. I am well aware that there are several passages in the Bible that talk of God's justice, vengeance, wrath, and all of these other human characteristics we ascribe to God (which really leads me to believe we don't understand God so we give Him our characteristics to make Him more easily understood, but that's another blog post...). But the overall view I formed was that God is good and loves His people. All of them, as He created them all. Not just Christians, not just Jews, not just Muslims, not any one group whatsoever.
All I can assume is that these people in front of that mosque were not only ignorant and scared (which is why they had weapons with them, right?), but also learned about God differently than me. They must have focused on the violence in the Bible instead of the love. I just don't understand.
Imagine how the children leaving that mosque felt when they looked across the street and saw armed fellow American chanting negative things. All they could possibly think is, "Those people hate me and they don't think I'm American because of my religion."
What kind of country are we developing when no one stands up to that?
These extremists, though, are just like Muslim extremists in some ways: they don't represent an entire group. But just as we condemn Al-Qaeda, ISIL, and other groups, we must also condemn violence and hatred in all its forms.

Yes, people have a right to protest. Yes, people also have a right to worship (which by the way, is the First Amendment in the constitution, and I like to think that's more important than the Second :P ) But seriously, was this really necessary? Did these people really think that intimidating people during their worship would actually achieve something? I guess the point really was to tell them, "Go back to your country!" when I'm sure most of the Muslims were American. And even if they weren't, show some respect. Can you imagine if a group of gun-toting Muslims stood in front of a church and chanted "Fuck Christianity"? I wouldn't even want to think about what would happen.

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