We are not them
Florida minister Terry Jones garnered world-wide headlines and the attention of President Barack Obama with his plans to burn copies of the Koran on Sept. 11.
Leaders in the government and the military warned that such an action would have severe consequences and result in the deaths of U. S. military personnel and American citizens and would aid the radical Islamists in their recruitment efforts.
Even Afghan President Karzai weighed in on the matter and agreed that the “burning of a Koran (or Quran) would undermine our effort in Afghanistan (and) jeopardize the safety of coalition troopers and citizens.”
In the end, Pastor Jones backed down. Before he did so, however, he received over 100 death threats and began carrying a .40 caliber pistol. As it is, the pastor’s name and face is now known around the world and his own safety and the welfare of his church, of some 50 members, may be in question for some time to come.
Other voices have also arisen complaining that Islam is receiving preferential treatment by media and government. “If people burn a Bible, no outcry is made,” they say. “If the supporters of the radical Islamists were to burn a Torah in America or elsewhere, no one would protest,” they state.
And they are correct. Bible-burning goes on all the time. Churches are raided and razed to the ground in a number of countries around the world with ever-increasing frequency. Pastors, priests, and church members are harassed, beaten, tortured, and killed regularly.
In fact, more Christian believers were murdered in the 20th century than in the previous 19 centuries combined. Where is the outcry?
In the last 50 years, the perpetrators of these acts have been, for the most part, either Communists or radical Muslims.
So, why not respond in kind? Why not burn other faiths holy books, raze their holy places, and brutalize their clerics and followers? The simple answer is, because we are not them.
Christians, at least Christians who attempt to follow the example and teachings of Jesus, are to behave in a different manner.
We do not strap bombs to our bodies and go into market places or centers of worship and blow ourselves and scores of men, women, and children to bits.
We do not call for the deaths of those with whom we do not agree.
We do not prohibit followers of others faiths from worshipping freely and publicly.
Some will contend that history demonstrates that Christians of certain eras did not act in a dissimilar manner from radical Islamists. But the key phrase is, “Christians who attempt to follow the example and teachings of Jesus.
Jesus said to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us. He said to turn the other cheek when struck and He, Himself, demonstrated this lifestyle in His own person.
The Christian ethic has so permeated this nation that, when 9/11 and the following incidents occurred, there was virtually no reprisal against Muslim citizens in the United States.
Does anyone believe that if American “Christian” fanatics had flown an airliner into the Dome of the Rock or into the Ka’ba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, killing thousands, that Americans or Christians would be safe in nations dominated by Islam? Or be safe anywhere?
We are not them. That, alone, was reason enough to call off the burning of the Korans in Florida. These tactics are not “the weapons of our warfare.”
Jesus did not say that the world would know we are His followers by the use of murderous violence. He said that “By this all men will know that you are my disciples: if you have love one for another.”
Pastor Jones did the right thing by relenting. We are not them.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and is the mission pastor of Christ the King Fellowship in Champaign, IL. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]