FIGURING WHY RELIGIOUS PARTICIPANTS
LIKE TO KILL
A number of years ago, I was on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem standing near the Al-Aqsa Mosque when I was approached by a Muslim. The man’s eyes flashed with anger and he demanded that I leave the area. In turn, I told him I had as much right to be there as he did. As I watched his fists clench, I realized I was about to be seriously assaulted and backed off. In his opinion, I was an infidel. Could resistance have gotten me killed? On the spot!
In Part One, I insisted this blog isn’t about Muslim bashing. Rather, it is about clarifying why in recent years similar hostilities have become rampant. And they have!
The issue is not “Islamophobia” and misunderstanding Muslims assaults. Christians in many Muslim dominated nations live in constant fear. For example in Nigeria, Christians have been severely persecuted for a long time. A group called Boko Haram vowed to kill all Christians in Nigeria. Over 350 churches were destroyed. The government of Sudan tormented Christians for decades. Leaders in The Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches had to flee Kenya with their families because of Muslim attacks. When Egyptian Coptic Christians, making up 11 percent of the population, marched in Cairo, Egyptian Security Forces drove their trucks into the crowd killing 24 people and injuring over 300. As Islamist prepared to take control in Egypt, over 200,000 Copts fled the country. Christian minorities had lost the protection of their societies.
Anti-Christian violence is a serious, growing, and under reported situation.
In America, the government owes protection to Muslim minorities. Everyone has the right to worship in anyway they choose. The problem is that ideal is not understood around the world. The February 13, 2012 special edition of Newsweek suggested the USA has leverage through the amount of aid and trade we have with these persecuting countries. With the billions of dollars we invest in these offending nations, the American government can pressure countries to no longer tolerate the “Christophobia” being practiced in their streets. Newsweek reported action is long overdue.
When I read these accounts and stories, they remind me of the fact that there is nothing new in these battles. It sounds like a return to the Crusades when Christian warriors on July 15, 1099 marched on Jerusalem and took the city after a bloody struggle with Muslims. Eventually Saladin the Magnificent recaptured the city in October 1187. Distrust, hate, and suspicion have not dampened over the centuries. In our time, we are experiencing another recurrence of these ancient battles.
How can we respond? Jews and Christians need to react according to their faiths and call for understanding and tolerance. We must not return an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Jesus taught that we should love our enemies. I don’t know of a better solution to this ancient crisis?
Is attempting to return love for hate too naive and unrealistic in these tense situations in the Middle East? What can we do to pressure the government to recognize and respond to the persecution of Christians by using economic and political pressure?