Commentary by Bill Buchanan
In an example of what can only be described as a fanaticism “arms race,” the burning of the Koran at a tiny Florida church set off a protest at a United Nations compound in Afghanistan that killed 11 people. Protests then spread to other areas of the country, adding to the death toll.
Wow, where do you begin? For the church in Florida, holding a mock trial of someone else’s holy book, then finding it “guilty” and burning it is not exactly the best way to demonstrate God’s love — especially just a few weeks from Easter. As for the protestors, there are probably better ways to express that their religion doesn’t promote violence than by holding violent demonstrations in which people are wounded and killed.
Moderates, who comprise the majority of both Christian and Muslim religions, have to be appalled at the stupidity of both actions.
Some of the quotes in the account I read sounded like a script from “Seinfeld.” The article stated that the church’s website called the event “International Judge the Koran Day” (international being hyperbole, since the church has about 50 members) and that “after the five-hour process, the Koran was found guilty, and a copy was burned inside the building.” I don’t know what they found inside the Koran that could possibly be worse than sitting through a five-hour church service. I would have been willing to set my own leg on fire to get out of that.
Later in the article, an assistant at the church was quoted as saying, “We have received a huge stack of death threats.” She went on to say, “We take precautions. I have a handgun. A lot of us have concealed weapons permits.” She added, “We’re a small church and we don’t have money to hire security.”
Maybe they would have a little more money if they started brandishing those weapons during the offertory portion of the service. Maybe fondling the handle of that .44 magnum as you pass the collection plate would encourage folks to dig a little deeper for “the cause.”
On the flip side, the geniuses who organized the violent protest in Afghanistan didn’t do a lot to reassure folks that Islam doesn’t encourage violence against non-Muslims. Can you protest that someone else’s religion puts yours in a bad light, if you show your indignation by taking lives?
This country is fortunate that the founding fathers had the foresight to separate church and state. The Constitution was written to guarantee that freedom of religion would also mean freedom from religion for those who chose it. Mixing government with religion has been a dicey proposition historically. It breeds religious zealotry, and that has bad consequences for all. Religious zealots tend to be wildly intolerant of those who believe differently than they do. When they have the power of the government behind them to enforce their agenda, they use that power to shun, persecute and even kill those who disagree with their beliefs. Historically, it has been detrimental to both religion and government.
In America, it seems the citizens who complain the loudest about infringement upon religious freedom generally have more of it than anyone else in the world. Some wail about not being able to enjoy prayer in school. However, it would seem that they are not seeking to have a prayer, but rather their prayer in school.
Those who would impose religious sanctions on policies and government, including school prayer, would do well to remember the wise observation I once saw on a church sign: “As long as there are math tests, there will always be prayer in school.” Those who wish to pray silently cannot be stopped from doing so; and those who choose not to pray cannot be forced.
Is that system not best for all concerned?