So it seems the pastor of a Gainesville, Florida church, Reverend Terry Jones, has decided (or not) to burn copies of the Quran (the Muslim holy book) tomorrow, September 11, 2010, as a "reprisal for Islamist terrorism." Well, that's sure an example of Christian forgiveness in action (said thick in sarcasm). Additionally, he's taking a political issue and turning it into a religious issue.
Now I really don't give a damn about pissing off a religious group generally. Listening to the rhetoric they spew never places my belief system (or lack thereof) in a positive light, and frankly I'm kind of tired of paying my share of their tax breaks. If I could get some entertainment from them once in a while, it would kind of be money well spent, I suppose.
The difference in this particular event has to do with a war...a war where there's real American troops in a country where a sizable part of the population is Muslim and wrongfully (I think) feels that America is somehow anti-Islam. The events that took place on 9/11/2001 were politically-motivated actions by a group of Islamic extremists who justified what they did based on what they perceived as American aggression and meddling in their culture. To further antagonize these extremists would be to put our own citizens at risk, including those serving in the Middle Eastern countries. It would also demonstrate to potential sympathizers with those extremists that America is, indeed, anti-Islam as they thought. While burning the Muslim "good book" may be within America's concept of free speech, it is free speech in the same form as shouting "FIRE!" in a crowded movie theater - dangerous, reckless, and serves no useful purpose except to put innocent people in harm's way.
"But...but...but...they did it to our Bible and nobody made a big deal about it! This is just a further demonstration of how the world is anti-Christian." NO IT ISN'T! Gee, people, get a grip! This sounds like something a five-year-old child would say: "Well, he burned my book so now I'm gonna burn his book. Na na na naaah na." Would you idiots please GROW THE HELL UP! The reason why "nobody" (and it wasn't nobody, believe me) here made a big deal of the burning of your "good book" or other antagonistic action by certain groups protesting is because there wasn't the strong possibility of a violent retaliatory action against our own citizens because of that action. That should be enough to cause you to take a step back and find some maturity. If it isn't, just think about how this kind of behavior is clearly non-Christian, and, Rev. Jones, no, Jesus Christ would not have condoned this kind of behavior. If you've found some kind of justification for believing he would, then somehow I've misunderstood some of the tenets of Christianity along the way...and I think maybe you have too. Burning the Quran is not the way to "spread the good word of the Lord." Argh. I have a moral problem even typing that phrase.
Then this morning I was listening to our morning talk radio program where I heard that the Westboro Baptist Church (you know, Fred Phelps' "God Hates Fags"...and-everyone-else-who-isn't-us religious cult) is planning on performing the Quran burning if Jones calls-off his book burning. Attention world: Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church (his merry band of bigots) absolutely, positively, does not reflect the actual views and opinions of the American public in general, and most of us would be happy if they just left the U.S. and found another place to take their hate.
...and that actually brings me to my final comment. Before anyone somehow justifies burning the Quran because they somehow equate the mosque in NYC and the 9/11 terror attacks with some kind of overall "Islamic invasion" that requires some action....before anyone even THINKS about this, think about fundamentalist and extremist Christian groups like the WBC. Most of the time these people stop just short of "terrorism" (and I say "most of the time" because killing doctors and bombing abortion clinics in the name of religion is a terrorist activity). Before you people get on your holy high-horse and make sweeping judgments about followers of Islam, perhaps you should clean-up your own act. Seriously, I'm sure most Muslims are normal folk who really just do what the rest of us do, but have a somewhat different religious belief. Nothing more. The followers of fundamentalist/extremist Islam are really no different from fundamentalist/extremist Christianity and those are the same as any other extreme nut-job out there.
Aside from the scientific reasoning and my own personal feelings about the lack of belief in any religion (a god, so to speak), this kind of conflict is yet another reason I feel happy about not being a "person of faith." As I've said before, if I'm wrong, I'm sure that I'll be rewarded in the afterlife for not getting involved in all this superstitious nonsense.
PS: My heartfelt sympathy goes out to everyone who lost someone in the Sept. 11 attacks. In my opinion, we should be honoring those who lost their lives through an understanding of what happened and how to prevent it from happening again. Burning the Quran is not any way to honor these people, and it won't provide any understanding nor will it prevent future attacks. Think about it...