upper room daily devotions

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Restraint and Hate

Recent events that have culminated in the deaths of several people in Benghazi arise from a playbook of every bad thing in religion. No religion is off the hook in this mass of hate-filled acts. As attention moves to assigning "blame" for the deaths of the fallen Libyans and US citizens, the question is, "Who is to blame?" I can answer that. A whole host of people who utilize religion for hate, political ascendency, and intolerance.

The Coptics who produced this film and the hate-monger Terry Jones do not reflect the religion that I claim. Their acts of intentional provocation have no home in a movement of peace. Their hatred does not belong to a movement that follows a man of love. Their intolerance is not born from the gospels of welcome. I leave it to members of Judaism and Islam to respond to the base acts of the members of those faiths. For me, I remain aghast at what people can and will do in the name of God - the same God to whom I have pledged my life. Islam may be right in claiming that there is be one true God, but clearly there are many gods. The people involved in the making of this film and in the killings yesterday do not worship the same God I do. I do not worship their god of hate and violence. Not now. Not ever.

I dream of that day when people of faith rise up and denounce such acts, not casually with eye rolling or heavy sighs, but robustly and without reservation. I wish that leaders of religions would stop placating the extremists in their communities.

People died. People died not because of war for the gain of territory or natural resources. Their deaths are not a result of the oppressed rising up against their oppressors. They did not die in the protection of art or freedom of speech. Their deaths are quite simply the result of a series of bad decisions and hateful actions made by people who should have known that no other outcome could have been envisioned. Violence begets violence - this time and every time.

Our world has lost the ability to exercise restraint. Well, I don't know if we actually lost this ability, but I sure wish we could learn to exercise it now. In accordance with this wish, I pledge not to defame my neighbor, even if that neighbor is my enemy. I will not excuse the hateful, intolerant, bigoted actions of other Christians. I will use my pulpit and my identity as an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church to forge stronger relationships with other faiths rather than working to undermine them. This may not be much; I cannot stop the increasing violence in Egypt and Libya; I cannot bring back the lives of those who have died; I cannot unmake a film; I can only control my own actions. And I will.


The Atlantic has released a short response that questions the identity of Sam Bacile, even doubting the authenticity of the man. Read this bizarre twist that sheds more darkness on an already opaque picture.

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