How would you feel if you heard there was going to be a group burning Bibles down the street? Maybe if someone said “Christ is the Devil” we’d get pretty upset.
Imagine yourself in the shoes of a Muslim who hears about Pastor Terry Jones plan to burn the Quran and says “Islam is of the Devil.” First of all, the US Military spoke out against this behavior because it threatens our troop’s safety and has instigated further anger towards Americans.
When told that General Petraeus had concerns over the burning of the Quran, Jones had this to say, “We are also concerned and wondering, when do we stop? How much do we back down? … Instead of us backing down, maybe it’s to time to stand up.”
So I ask you, how do we stand up? Is burning a Quran in our country standing up to an enemy abroad that only uses our actions to fuel their negative opinion of us more? Every year as September 11th rolls around, we are reminded of the terrorist actions that were put into motion. It has been convenient and easy to label the enemy as Muslims. Is this what Christ is asking us to do?
We live in a world of many religious views and many beliefs. How do we live in this world as Christians? Are we to condemn those who don’t follow Christ? Are we to consider them an enemy if they don’t see things the same way we do?
As I learned as a participant in the Parliament of the World’s Religions last December in Melbourne, Australia, many of the world’s religions have a lot in common—namely, a sense of justice and yearning to help those who are in need, hungry, cold, or suffering from oppression. This sounds like part of our mission as Lutherans. Countless Muslims were present, joining this calling. There is good in the hearts of many people in this world.
It is our opportunity to stand up to intolerance, fear, and ignorance. Instead of judging that our enemy is another religion, let’s see where this religion is our neighbor. Maybe we serve meals on a different night than they do or we each are contributing funds to the same neighborhood organizations.
Perhaps the best way to, as Terry Jones said “stand up instead of back down” is to see where we can come together and break down the stereotypes we have of each other. As a society, we can raise a loud voice against Terry Jones, like the Vatican did recently. Learn about our differences. You might be surprised to find that we have a lot more in common than we do against.