Thursday, September 09, 2010

This irritates me

The guy in Florida who wants to burn Korans to mark the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. (I'm sure you've seen it in the news. I'm not linking to any of the stories. In fact, I feel a bit of a hypocrite for giving the man any more attention or publicity).

This bothers me on many levels.

First off, it's the attention-hound impulse at its worst. No one would have known this pastor without his stunt. And now he's all over the news. Sure, it's negative attention, but in today's screwed up society, being notorious is as good as being famous. There are hundreds of people - thousands of people - out there who are doing some real good in this world, who are trying to make things better, and they don't get ANY attention from the news. But let one guy take things too far - and they're all over him. You have to be dysfunctional to get attention these days, I guess.

And I suspect there are a lot of the families of people who died who are upset by this. This guy is grabbing headlines, he's turning the anniversary of a grim and sad day into somewhat of a circus. It's disrespectful to those who died, IMHO.

Second - and probably most important, in my mind - this is a bad advertisement for Christianity. Christians don't gain points by bashing the religions of others, and certainly not by doing something that an adherent of the religion would regard as offensive. (I exempt cases where the "offensive act" is an act that saves another individual from harm; for example, a Christian man getting between a mob bent on stoning an alleged adulteress and the soon-to-be victim would be a brave and good act). It doesn't hurt Christianity that the Koran exists. I have never read any of it but it does not offend me that it exists.

The other thing is, not all Muslims are terrorists. (I'm sorry if you believe they are, but they aren't.) There are many people in this country who follow that faith who are appalled by the terroristic impulses of some of their co-religionists - and who are also appalled by the misogynistic and other negative impulses. (I know. I have had Muslim students who have talked about it.) Just as I don't condone what this pastor is doing - just as I am disgusted by the Westboro "Baptist" idiots - just as I condemn those who would bomb abortion clinics in the name of their faith, there are Muslims who are aghast and disgusted by the thought that someone claiming to be of their faith would use it to kill others.

My faith calls me to love people. (Yes, it also calls me to spread the Good News, but it doesn't tell me to be a jerk about doing so, by burning another religion's texts). I can't see the burning as being anything but an angry and inflammatory act that will make things worse instead of better.

I mean - some have been calling for a slow-down on the mosque-near-Ground-Zero plans, in the name of compassion (for those who were killed) and tolerance (it does look like a thumb in the eye to other faiths, at least from some angles). This is worse, in my opinion, than the mosque plans: all it does is gain notoriety for a preacher. It doesn't advance Christianity (In fact, it's being used as a stereotype. "All Christians are idiot bigots" is the undercurrent on some of the news stories).


And finally - yes, it could put our troops in danger. Or Christians (or even "American looking people") abroad in some countries in danger. I realize, yes, the crazy Islamist types don't NEED provocation, that the fact that I'm not walking around in a burqa, only allowed out in public under the protection of a male in my family, is enough to provoke them. But. This is like throwing gasoline on a fire to try to make it calm down.

I don't know. On September 11, I will do what I always have done since 2001 - light some candles, say a prayer for the families of those who died. And also say a prayer that all people who would advance misunderstanding and hatred in the name of religion (or really, any other belief) would realize that their ways are wrong, and repent from that.

1 comment:

Heroditus Huxley said...

My husband also did some research into that guy's church and background...the Koran-burner church has some direct (but quiet) ties to the Westboro Baptists (the God hates fags church).

And neither one is particularly religious--they're anarchist lawyers that formed a church as a screen.

To tell you the truth, it's made us wonder if, perhaps, they're trying to trigger violence--from the "uneducated rednecks" grieving for their dead soldiers, and from the radical Islamofacists. They didn't succeed with the first, so they're trying the second.

(By the way...Mrs. Chism is also me--signed into the blog I use to comment on my students' blogs.)