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Ignorance at its worst

By A.R. Schaffer

(A personal reflection and commentary)

 

 

 

     I ordinarily would not interject personal opinions onto this site, but the recent interview with Jerry Falwel and his followers on Sunday’s ‘60 Minutes’ (Oct 6, 2002) was so outrageous, to keep silent would be a sin.  For those who may have missed it, in that interview he called Mohammed the Prophet a terrorist, claimed that Jesus and Moses were the only two holy men to represent love, and implied that a correct US policy in the Middle East was necessary to bring about the Second coming of Christ.  As if these charges were not enough, one of his followers that was interviewed stated that the assignation of Yitzhak Rabin was an act of God for his attempt to give back land to the Palestinians in exchange for peace. 

     The piece went on to reveal that essentially the core of this “final judgment” thinking is that Israel must be restored to its Biblical territory in order for Jesus to return.  They also believe that in that Second coming great masses of the Jewish people will be killed, and the remaining will be converted to Christianity, which really translates --- that only those Jews who accept Christ will be saved. They also believe that our national policy toward Israel affects the Second Coming (as if God needed our help to carry out his will).  We need to note here that their influence upon the current administration is hefty indeed as there are 70 million of them and they VOTE, a great many like they are told!   What makes matters even worse, is that there are Jewish leaders who welcome and embrace this groups support.

 

      Every once in awhile, ignorance and superstition becomes so outrageous it tries the patience of even those of us who desire to be tolerant and loving.  The narcissism, arrogance, self righteousness and bigotry of this group is not only self evident but it becomes downright dangerous especially if it affects the policies of our government. 

      Falwel claims to represent morals and Christianity. But most of his rhetoric is so far from the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels that it really becomes anti-Christ.  His words often paint an Image of God that is egotistical, brutal, and extremely partial. Their Second Coming belief structure seems to take delight in the suffering of human beings and ignores the concept of the mercy of God.  In reality, the ideas of this doctrine are every bit as dangerous as Hitler and his concept of a German Superior Race; only the pure race here becomes the Christian elect. In fairness to Mr. Falwel and his followers, while such Nazi idealism is most probably not there intent, such could ultimately lead there.   Consider: if his followers believe that an assassination is God’s Will, and that God needs the United States Government to restore Israel to its former territories, it only follows that they believe that men are carrying out God’s plan.  What is to stop them from advocating that men must kill the Jews that reject Christ to carry out God’s Will?  Any philosophy or theology that makes any group superior to the rest of us; be it because of race, gender, or religious belief --- that group becomes potentially dangerous.  Add to this ideal, that one can speak for God, or interpret God’s Will (especially when one uses a book that is full of violence and is as ambiguous and interpretative as the Bible), you create a volatile mixture indeed.       

     All this doctrine about the Second Coming, as preached by so many of these groups, ignores any Balance to the Bible and is based upon a single book (Revelation) that was one of the most contested entries in the Bible and almost did not make it in.  It is a book cloaked in symbol and myth and can be interpreted a hundred different ways.  It is a book of violence and destruction.  It is also a book whose author believed that the end of the world would occur in his lifetime.  And, this work has been used to predict the Second Coming of Christ every century since its writing. Even if there were to be a Second Coming in the manner they believe,  it seems it would be brought about by God; not Mr. Falwel, not the policies of the United States, not any Christian Group.

 

    Not only are these teachings dangerous to Jews, what are they implying about the Palestinians and the rest of the Islamic World?  To equate Mohammed to a terrorist is to say that every follower of Islam is a terrorist. In his statement, there is a direct implication that this great Prophet and founder of Islam is in league with Satan (as Christian teachings would equate the terrorists with Satan).  To indict a religion based upon the actions of a few, is a form of bigotry it would seem should be unfathomable to a true Christian.  To indict the founder of a religion based upon fanatical interpretations of his teachings by a few is plain ignorance, begging the question:  What does that say about Jesus in light of some of the Christian atrocities perpetrated in his name over the years? 

      To imply that God would employ the tools of assassination to carry out His/Her will, or to punish an individual in such a manner, is a form of Blasphemy and actually becomes a justification for the very acts terrorists perform. Individuals could actually claim they are just carrying out God’s Will if one truly believes God would resort to such tactics.   It is to declare that God is resorting to the darkest side of human nature to carry out His/Her plan; a declaration that God could endorse assassination.  It may be true, as the woman stated in this piece, that God holds the power of life and death; but, He/She certainly does not need a bullet to bring death about.  He/She certainly need not ask human beings to break one of His/Her so-called commandments to bring about a death.  Such thinking is not only contradictory, it is downright dangerous if not overtly insane!

 

    The fact of the matter is we do not need the physical Christ to come again to start loving one another.  Respect and tolerance would go much further to promote the ideals of Jesus than condemnations and judgments.  We have a group here that is casting stones and missing the plank in their own eyes.  We have a group that is waiting in a sick anticipation of more from God, which in reality shows almost contempt for the beautiful creation God has blessed us with.  They seem to be waiting for the end of the world so they can remove the bigotry from their own hearts, as according to their teachings only like minded individuals would survive --- there would be no one to condemn.

    As postulated in our theology on this site, to live in anticipation of God giving us more is to insult God for what He/She has already blessed us with.  Until we make the most of what God has already given, what right do we have to expect more?  It is not God who is depriving us of paradise; it is we who are blinding ourselves to the human potential.  As Jesus said: 

 

“The Kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the Kingdom of God is within you.”

(Luke 17:20,21)

 

     Mr. Falwel claims to have read about Mohammed, but the books he read must have been written by Osamah Ben Ladin.  Any intelligent study of the prophet, or Islam for that matter, leads one to see that the fundamentals taught are simplistic and beautiful at the root, as is true of all the major religions.  Any religious ideal that condemns the Divine relationships of those that differ from it has to be seriously flawed.   Mr. Falwel, and like minded Christian leaders, do Jesus and the entire Christian religion a great injustice when they continue to make their judgmental bigoted pronouncements based upon their arrogant, self righteous, interpretations.    

     Maybe Falwel and his followers could learn a lesson in humility and theology from the following Islamic prayer:

 

O God! If I worship thee in fear of hell, burn me in hell; and if I worship thee in hope of paradise, exclude me from paradise; but if I worship thee for thine own sake, withhold not they everlasting beauty!

[Source:  Karen Armstrong, HISTORY OF GOD, p226 quote taken from R.A. Nelson, THE MYSTICS OF ISLAM, p115]

 

     Mohammed was a great religious leader who founded a religion that fills the needs of millions of his followers.  Just as Jesus can be used to incite contempt, condemnation and bigotry by fanatical and disturbed followers --- so too is the case of Mohammed.

      Falwel not only needs to study comparative religions more, he needs to read more of the words from the claimed founder of his own religion:

 

“Judge not, that you may not be judges.  For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with what measure you use, it will be measured back to you.

     “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?”

(Matthew 7:1-3)

 

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