There is a bible verse that sits at the center of what the Christian faith once symbolized to me. Though I no longer associate myself with the Christian Church, this verse still has meaning to me. It is the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. Samaritans and Jews hated each other especially during “the first century because Samaritans had desecrated the Jewish Temple at Passover with human bones.”
It’s a message that speaks to tolerance; the characteristic that is always missing when people promote wars and persecute those outside each others way of life. It seems however that this is where this teaching remains for many – in the past – as we experience those who claim to represent the faith as they disregard it completely in their actions today.
One of the worst and constant examples of this is the Pastor Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas. With total disregard for the privacy and sanctity of burying loved ones, this band of Cretans gravitate to the funerals of soldiers and cast ugly epithets at the deceased soldier’s family to show their contempt for a military that allows gays to serve. Clearly there is a lunacy here that only the members of this cult can make such a connection to.
But there are many others that have popped up since 9/11 that are equally scornful of their perceived enemies and who make a mockery of their religious core values to show mercy toward those they have inbred biases toward. Many Americans who were outraged by the heinous acts of that awful day have allowed a level of fear and ignorance to overcome them to the point where they now see all Muslims as terrorists.
It’s a hate focused on a culture they hardly understand; very similar to what we saw from white Christians when slavery was accepted by many of them during the 19th century and that prevailed toward the freed blacks well into the 20th century.
The most recent display of this hate-filled intolerance was held February 13th of this year in front of a Yorba Linda, Calif. mosque in Orange County where Muslims were having a fund-raising dinner for a woman’s shelter. As Muslim families entered their place of worship with their small children the crowd jeered them with some obscenities and yelled “Go back Home” to many of the Muslims who were born here in the U.S. Others shouted out “Mohammad was a child molester … a pervert … a fraud” Some of the women attacked Islamic Sharia law by accusing several Muslim men of beating their wives and having “sex with [their] nine-year old daughters”.
Across the street these vilifiers held a rally that was attended by several Republican politicians. One was Villa Park Councilwoman Deborah Pauly who called the Muslim fund-raiser “pure, unadulterated evil” and indicated she knew many Marines, of which she proudly claimed her son was one of, who “would be willing to, uh, help these terrorists to an early meeting in paradise”. All to the laughter of many in the crowd. Did she mean murder them?
Another Republican attendee was Congressman Ed Royce who misrepresented what’s stated in public schools about freedom of speech, saying kids were taught that “every idea was right; that no one should criticize other’s position, no matter how odious.” His implication here was that there are limits to this notion.
Multiculturalism, Royce said, was a barrier to enable people to make the “critical judgment we need to make to prosper as a society.” What the hell does that mean? Congressman Gary Miller was also there who praised the angry crowd saying he was “proud of what they were doing” and ironically told them not “to let people who disagree with them destroy [this country]”.
The tape can viewed in it’s entirety here. I’ve watched several videos of Westboro protestors and other than their deranged sentiments expressed on their signs I saw no human behavior that was as viciously expressed as it was by the Orange County Christians. It is the dehumanizing actions of such people who renders a faith hollow after having one of their greatest biblical heroes call charity the greater quality than faith and hope (1Cor. 13:13)
It is the acts of so-called Christians like this that validated my decision years ago to disassociate myself from Christianity. Not that all Christians, or other members of the world’s religions are inherently evil but that religion itself can be the seed for much of what is destructive in our culture. The fact that fanatical minorities like the Orange County christians within each religion exists to express themselves in such hurtful ways drags the better elements in the faith down into the mire with them. But it does serve as testimony that debunks Congressman Royce’s contention that only “others” are guilty of this.
The Orange County Christians represent more the conventional views of the Sadducees and Pharisees in New Testament scriptures that Christians hold responsible for Jesus’ execution as well as the mob that stood before Pilate shouting “crucify him, crucify him”. The core values I found in the New Testament are not honored over the bigotry that people like this grow up with. Many were and still are indoctrinated to a level that leaves them clueless, much like that legal expert in Luke 10:29 who inquired of Jesus , “who is my neighbor?”