Love Thy Neighbor? How, Without Tolerance?

There was a small discussion over on Facebook tonight, and I wanted to expand upon some of my thoughts here.

Someone posted about the hypocrisy being shown by the Muslim world about the church in Florida which plans to burn a copy of the Quran. They stated that the burning of the Quran shouldn’t anger the Muslim world any more than Bible or flag burning angers others.

That statement sparked a conversation between two people that quickly denigrated into name calling and finger pointing. One person said that everyone should act like adults and stop bashing others beliefs, while the other said that “everyone should grow up” had the stench of surrender to it.

One person invoked the name of Jesus, telling the second person that Jesus made the ultimate surrender and that he degraded it with revenge and wasn’t very “Christian”. From there it went downhill quickly as the first person also invoked the names of Timothy McVeigh, the Columbine teens, David Koresh, and Jim Jones. She insinuated that those who didn’t see things her way were violent and ignorant.

After an historical reference to 1938, a couple veiled comments about the incinerators at the concentration camps, and a couple more insults, the first person ended their side of the conversation with the over-used statement that “not every Muslim is a terrorist”.

After reading the entire conversation I could not contain myself. I felt I needed to write something about it, so this is what I wrote.

When an event occurs in the present (like the burning of the Quran), I think it does more damage invoking the name of radicals of the past. We all know we cannot move forward if we don’t learn from the mistakes in our past, but that doesn’t mean we need to dwell on that past either.

Burning the Quran may offend some, but they have the right to burn it, just as you or anyone else has the right to perform many similar acts, as protected by our freedom of speech as defined in the U.S. Constitution.

When you invoke the name of radicals to support your theory, your theory carries little to no weight of its own. Just like those who invoke the name of Hitler or the Nazis, you are no better for invoking the name of Timothy McVeigh, David Koresh, or any other half dozen radicals of our time.

While I support the statement that not all Muslims are terrorists, the Quran clearly promotes violence, and claiming otherwise is extremely ignorant.

I am not arguing, I am not preaching, I am simply telling it like it is. Throughout many parts of the world books and effigies are burnt in protest, religious leaders call for the destruction of America, women are stoned to death for the most insane reasons, and all the while we, here in America, are told to remain tolerant.

I see no tolerance in many of the statements above, in fact I see a lot of intolerance to our fellow citizens while espousing a reality that simply does not exist.

What is the difference between a Christian and a “Christian” anyway? As a Christian, I don’t feel it is my place to single out specific individuals as being more or less Christian than me, for I am no better than anyone else, for we are all sinners, aren’t we?

Although I don’t agree with the burning of the Quran (or any other book), it’s a far cry short of the “violence and ignorance” that you have claimed it is. I don’t need a teacher, religious zealots, two angst ridden teenagers hellbent on destruction, or anyone else to see that.

What do you think? Personally, I think a person does a disservice to themselves, and the debate they are trying to win, when they invoke the name of radicals (from either side) to attack the other side of the argument. Wouldn’t it be more prudent to make statements which actually support your side? Wouldn’t it be prudent to converse with your opponent rather than attack them by comparing them to some of the most dangerous radicals of our time?

Has anyone ever won a debate with you by calling you names? Has anyone ever convinced you that your beliefs were wrong by comparing you to religious zealots and radicals? I didn’t think so.