I don’t often delve in to politics or religion on my blog – a few nods here and there to our church or what’s going on in our lives, but at the moment, I’m supremely irritated and I’m using my blog as my platform. I’ll be back to regular postings tomorrow.
By now, you’ve heard about the pastor named Terry Jones at “Dove World Outreach Center” (their website has been taken down) who wants to burn Qu’rans on Saturday, September 11. This little church (reportedly less than 40 members) is in Gainesville, FL, and is at the center of attention right now.
Maybe that’s the pastor’s goal: the report is that the church is struggling financially. Sometimes media attention is a way to raise cash for a strapped organization. Or maybe they’re just full of hatred and misguided about what their name means: Dove (the symbol of PEACE and the Holy Spirit) World (um, yeah – that’s the big blue marble we live on) Outreach (this means reaching out, loving, spreading the Good News) Center (the place where the aforementioned activities should be taking place). I seriously question whether their proposed actions would fulfill any of their church’s name.
Regardless if it’s a money-drive or publicity-stunt, I’m royally peeved. This church is in cahoots with the Westboro Baptist Church-nutjobs (the ones who boycott military funerals and have hate-placards that say “God hates fags” and other crap), and apparently, this is their specific brand of hatred that they want to be known for spewing.
Am I a Muslim? No. Do I have Muslim friends? Yes, I do. One of the greatest honours I’ve had is to be invited to an Eid celebration at the home of some Muslim friends. It was a delightful party and a celebration that stays in my memory.
But more importantly than any of that is the fact that a) this bozo is getting tons of media attention right now and b) there are people who are deciding that this clown gets to speak for all who follow Christ. I get just as irritated when the Westboro group pickets and decides to make their lack-of-love known to the public – I don’t want these people speaking for me, and neither do my Christ-follower-friends.
The challenge I see is that people who defend Muslims against the Islamic fundamentalists who wreak havoc and pain on others in the name of the religion are some of the same ones who label all Christ-followers as intolerant and hateful based on what the groups in Florida and Kansas do. I know for a fact that my Muslim friends don’t believe or live like the fundamentalists who fly planes in to buildings and they know that I don’t believe or live like these groups. But the overarching understanding of “Christianity” gets tainted by the fringe minority who get the publicity they’re seeking.
The message of Jesus is that of love. Yes, there are aspects of holiness and right living that come when one professes faith in Christ, but for a dying world that needs hope, love is the message. It’s the reason Jesus came to earth: to show us in the Father’s love in a real, tangible way. These groups hijack my faith and make it about anger, hatred, and judgment and leave the love out of it.
It really, really ticks me off. There’s absolutely nothing I can do about it, but it “burns my butt” as the late actor John Houseman said. Oh, that the world could see my faith for the love and kindness that it is supposed to represent – the doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly that our church promotes.
Edited, 5:56pm EST: The pastor has agreed to cancel the Qu’ran burning. I am grateful, but skeptical, because he’s now flying to NYC to “discuss” the “Ground Zero Mosque” with the imam there. Seems like this guy is a loose cannon who is also a publicity hound.