Embracing Religious Tolerance
September 12, 2010
You cannot live in a religiously tolerant country, unless you allow people to burn the Qur’an for religious reasons. That’s where I ended up on The Rev. Terry Jones’ silly Qur’an burning ceremony. It doesn’t matter why he wanted to do it, or why he didn’t do it. It is our country’s current (and perhaps, faulty) understanding of the First Amendment that we can burn any sacred document, so long as it’s not a threat of violence against another.
Just to clarify my position, I don’t think that free speech should protect burning things. Burning isn’t talking, and the Founders wanted to protect political dissent, not government funded art works called Piss Christ depicting a cross floating in a jar of urine.
That said, even when a badly decided law is enacted, I want it applied fairly, using one standard, and that’s where the Qur’an burning fiasco reveals cultural double-standards I find troubling. I find it troubling because I’m a Christian, and Rev. Terry Jones got the cultural gauntlet thrown at him solely because he claimed to be Christian. It’s near impossible to imagine that if a Mosque burned a bunch of Dr. James Dobson books, that if that act caused a bunch of Coptic Christians in some other country to riot and murder people, that people in my culture would call members of that Mosque a “cult”, “pinheads”, “unAmerican” or any of the other names regularly used to describe the Rev. Jones.
The Rev. Terry Jones is just another American exercising religious liberty in the greatest country in the history of the world. That doesn’t make him right, but every American, no matter his religion, should be treated fairly and it’s along these lines where my culture failed. I know this because of how I’m expected to tolerate other views that go against my own, and calling your opponent “unamerican-cult-member” is hardly a demonstration of our grand tradition of tolerance.
Frankly, I smell a rat. I think this entire tolerance-talk is always designed to work one way. It’s best embodied by the “Stop the H8te” bumper sticker on my gay neighbor’s car I get to see every day. I don’t believe gay marriage should be legal, and I voted that way. About 70% of the rest of my state voted the same, but we’re the embodiment of hate. That’s tolerance-speak to some, but it seems an artless practice of tolerance. It’s childish, primitive, and is no different than calling someone a “faggot” for believing different than you.
The grossest part of the Rev. Terry Jones embarrassment was the horror over burning a Qur’an vs. the passive talk regarding a group of Muslims so primitive and furious that they kill people when their book is burned. Now that should bring us pause. People in America have always burned things we don’t like, I’ve seen President Bush burned in effigy, I’ve seen Bibles burned, even our flag. Burning even sacred items should not a murder cause.
But almost nobody commented on the murderers, instead, my culture appeared to actually blame Rev. Terry Jones for being the cause of murder.
Behold, President Obama:
“This is a recruitment bonanza for al-Qaeda. You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan. This could increase the recruitment of individuals who would be willing to blow themselves up in American cities or European cities.”
So? Sending my daughters to college is a recruiting boon to al-Qaeda, so is the publishing of Playboy, so is having Israel on our maps. Should we end every Western act that makes immoral terrorists do their thing? If al-Qaeda responds to freedom in the west with a riot, that’s not our fault. The exercise of our freedom does not cause anybody to do anything. But there is no mention from the president that if violence breaks out in Afghanistan that it’s not the Rev. Terry Jones’ fault.
And we all know that building a Mosque at Ground Zero could never be used by al-Qaeda to recruit- oh, never mind. Do you smell a rat? I smell a rat.
It’s the equivalent of blaming a rape on the clothing the victim wears. We believe in personal responsibility to a point that it doesn’t matter which neighborhood a woman walks into, and frankly, it wouldn’t matter if she was completely naked, it doesn’t justify rape. How much less does burning a book justify murder? Burning the Qur’an isn’t what’s unAmerican. Blaming murder on some Florida pastor for burning a Qur’an is what’s unAmerican.
As a Christian, I get more than just a little squeamish when the leader of the free world uses his Bully Pulpit to point out a pastor. Where is the hysterical ACLU demanding a clear separation of church and state? Silent. That’s because the ACLU has no real interest in the separation of church and state. They just want to remove God talk from normal public discourse.
US commander in Afghanistan General David Petraeus is even more disturbing:
“It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort. It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here, but everywhere in the world, we are engaged with the Islamic community.”
Frankly, if this is true, then we are completely screwed. The whole reason why we’re fighting terror is so that we can practice our American thing without murderers crashing planes into our buildings. If we can only win a war by promising to stab Florida Reverends in the back then we’ve already lost the war. The fact that this is a military man now pressuring religious expression in the states should sound an alarm to the Separation of Church and Staters… again, they’re silent. They don’t want a General to give a Christian benediction while on government salary but he can tell the Rev. Jones that his religious expression will cause murder around the world.
If everyone is so angry at the Rev. Terry Jones, let them hold the same standard when a college student burns an American flag. Surely, al-Quaeda gains confidence by seeing our youth burn the flag. I don’t really care which standard our confused leaders use, I just want them to stick to one.
If our standard is to burn documents held sacred to others, then shut your pie when a pastor burns a Qur’an. If protecting our soldiers from al-Quaeda recruiting is the standard, then publicly condemn the building of the Ground Zero mosque and stop giving me this “They have the right to build it” crap… as if your condemnation of a pastor burning a Qur’an implies that you also don’t think it should be legal. You see, President Obama, I don’t talk to you like you’re an idiot, so quit doing the same to me. I haven’t seen anyone say that it should be illegal to build a Mosque on Ground Zero.
Man up and pick a standard. But they won’t pick a standard… and I smell a rat because of it.