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Religious Tolerance and Religious WarsErsun Warncke Salem-News.com
Diversity of religious thought is essential to a free society.
(EUGENE, Ore.) - The United States by its constitution is a nation based on the principle of religious tolerance. One of the foundational principals of the U.S. Constitution is that all citizens are free to practice their own religion according to their own conscience.
Diversity of religious thought is essential to a free society. In a country the size of the United States it would be impossible for all people to share identical views on religion unless those views were forced on them by coercive measures. Consequently, diversity of religious opinions and the freedom with which they are expressed are a highly accurate indicator of the state of our society.
If religious diversity is not tolerated, then this represents an abandonment of our most fundamental Constitutional principles, which bodes ill for all other aspects of civil discourse.
Religious tolerance is one of the cornerstones in the foundation of our nation. Our strength as a people is derived from our ability to unite for a common purpose despite doctrinal differences.
If Protestants of many sects were not united in common cause together, and united equally with Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and people of many other religious sects, the United States would not exist as a nation today.
Read the history of how Europeans fought and died in religious wars between Protestants and Catholics for centuries. The founding fathers of the United States were well aware of this history. Ending the centuries of bloodshed that had resulted from the exploitation of religious factionalism was one of the essential elements in their formulation of a new nation state.
The United States was founded on “self evident” principles. In the terminology of the day, what was taken as “self evident” is that there is one true universal god and that all life must exist according to the design or plan of the one true universal god. This proposition is self evident because it is a logical truism and it is impossible to disprove.
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all religions that share a similar belief that there is one true universal god. This belief is common in religions around the world, because it is based on simple observations of the natural world, and thus can be arrived at independently by any person anywhere who engages in a thorough inquiry into the nature of existence.
Any person who stirs up religious hatred and exploits factions between people who share a common core belief system and practice it in good faith is a menace, an aberration, and an affront to Americans of all faiths. Such people attack the very foundation of our traditional American values and act to destroy the unity that makes our nation strong.
The promotion of religious bigotry against Muslims has been a staple of propaganda in the United States and in Europe for at least the past decade. This propaganda flies in the face of all reason and is directly contrary to our history and our values.
The anti-Muslim propagandists would have us believe that Islam is a religion of hate and intolerance that is the primary ideological motivation for violent radicals who commit terrorists acts against the United States and our allies.
Surely this claim that Islam is an antagonistic religion that promotes violence and hate can be investigated. If we are to investigate this claim, then why not look to The Qur’an and our own holy book, The Bible.
The ancient Jewish law, written in Exodus 21:23, states “And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”
The words of Jesus, written in Matthew 5:38 say, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
The Qur’an, Chapter 2 verse 78 states, “fair retribution is prescribed for you in cases of murder … but if the culprit is pardoned by his aggrieved brother, this shall be adhered to fairly, and the culprit shall pay what is due in a good way. This is an alleviation from your Lord and an act of mercy.”
The Qur’an makes it clear that all acts of aggression are prohibited and the only permissible violence is proportionate self-defense and fair retribution. It states, “If anyone exceeds these limits, grievous suffering awaits him.”
In analyzing these conflicting views on justice it can be observed that both Muslims and Christians adhere to a less stringent code of reciprocity than what is laid out in the ancient Jewish texts.
In Christian theology, the teaching of “turn the other cheek” has largely been interpreted as a teaching related to personal spiritual development, and not an operative law of justice. Christian societies have maintained a system of justice based on reciprocity as a fundamental principle but with the option for mercy and forgiveness on a circumstantial basis.
In can be observed then that there is virtually no difference between Christians and Muslims when it comes to core principals of justice and law.
The Qur’an makes it clear that there is no conflict between people of different religious backgrounds who believe in the same core values. Chapter 2, verse 62 says, “The [Muslim] believers, the Jews, the Christians, and the Sabians – all those who believe in God and the Last Day and do good – will have their rewards with their Lord. No fear for them, nor will they grieve.”
Chapter 2, verse 177 expounds on this: “Goodness does not consist in turning your face towards the East or West [performing the rituals of any particular sect]. The truly good are those who believe in God and the Last Day, in the angels, the Scripture, and the prophets; who give away some of their wealth, however much they cherish it, to their relatives, to orphans, the needy, travelers and beggars, and to liberate those in bondage; those who keep up the prayer and pay the prescribed alms; who keep pledges whenever they make them; who are steadfast in misfortune, adversity, and times of danger. These are the ones who are true, and it is they who are aware of God.”
Jesus says, in Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
If there is any conflict between Christianity and Islam, I certainly would not be able to find it in these passages, which seem only to affirm each other. From whence then doth the conflict between Christianity and Islam arise? If you read a newspaper or turn on the television you will be bombarded with endless stories of violence and atrocities being committed by radical Muslim terrorists. These acts are barbaric and atrocious, but are they the acts of Muslims?
No. An act of political terrorism cannot be the act of a Muslim because the religion expressly prohibits all aggressive violence, just as the Christian religion does. Therefore, there are terrorists committing atrocious acts, but when they claim to be Muslims, it is obvious that they are liars and frauds.
This is equally true of terrorists, tyrants, and con artists who claim to act in the name of Christ. These people are numerous, and they are vile, but we condemn them for their evil acts. We do not condemn Christianity simply because evil men commit crimes using the façade of religion as a subterfuge for their schemes.
If you inspect this concept of “radical Muslim terrorists” a bit more thoroughly, then you must ask yourself, where did these people learn the arts of political terror?
Does the Qur’an contain instructions on how to conduct guerilla warfare? How to build improvised explosive devises? How to use political terror as a means of manipulating populations in a theatre of war?
I assure you, the Qur’an contains no such blueprint for terrorist activity. Army and CIA field manuals, on the other hand, cover these topics in extensive detail.
If we are to label these terrorists according to the source of their ideology, then we should call them CIA terrorists, or Mossad terrorists, or Saudi terrorists, or ISI terrorists, but to call them Muslim terrorists is completely nonsensical.
In The Art of War, Sun Tzu wrote that: “it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss. If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose. If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.” He also wrote “Never will those who wage war tire of deception.”
Propaganda that promotes division and hatred between Christianity and Islam is deceptive to the core. Christians, Jews, Muslims, and people of faith from all religions are equal in our country. Equal respect for all people of good faith is one of the most fundamental tenets of our national Constitution.
If you follow the philosophy of Sun Tzu, then you will look at this as a simple matter of objectively assessing yourself and your enemy, which is a prerequisite to victory in battle. Are people who share with us our fundamental principles and beliefs really our enemies? Who is it that wages war by deception?
Those who foment religious intolerance and hatred against Muslims in the United States are wretched and treasonous swine who insult America and insult Christianity with every breath that they use to slander Islam.
The propaganda against Muslims has been so pervasive over the past decade that the average person cannot be blamed for having been influenced by it. The ultimate blame must lie with those who spread these lies, knowing full well their falsehood.
For the media, which revels in the spectacle of burning the Qur’an in a ritual of symbolic desecration, I have nothing but contempt.
For the media that uses fake stories like the “ground zero mosque” in order to stir up religious hatred tied to the events of September 11, I have nothing but contempt. These war mongers who have never seen the field of battle are happy to instigate violence that they will never have a part in. Divide and conquer. It is a pretty basic formula.
I would like to see these Qur’an burners, on Fox News, on CNN, in the New York Times, on CBS, ABC, and NBC, I would like to see them burn a Qur’an in Afghanistan or Iraq, where our nation is trying to execute a withdrawal of hundreds of thousands of people and massive amounts of equipment with as few casualties and losses as possible.
My guess is that these Qur’an burners would probably take a bullet from an American before the angry mobs ever got to them. Under the circumstances, such an act would be perfectly justified.
These days, the media is global. A provocation in Florida can have the same effect as a provocation in Kabul. A man who burns a Qur’an in Florida, and gets his dumb face on the international media, is just as culpable for his crimes as a person who does the same thing in Kabul. The only difference is that the international media is equally culpable in this case.
Our national policy and national objective is to conduct an orderly withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq with a minimal loss of life and property. Any person who willfully and intentionally interferes with these objectives is a traitor.
Fomenting hate between Christianity and Islam, based entirely on lies, slander, and distortions, cannot possibly help our nation in accomplishing the difficult task of withdrawing hundreds of thousands of persons from occupied zones in the predominantly Muslim countries of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Those who espouse this garbage are nothing but traitorous swine, who are comfortable spewing sewage on television and in the press, far from the front lines, where the pain that results from the conflict they create is felt. Burn a Qur’an.
What if someone burned your television studio?
What if someone burned your printing press? What if someone set you on fire, just to prove that your God is false? How would you feel about symbolic desecration then?
Salem-News.com Business/Economy Reporter Ersun Warncke is a native Oregonian. He has a degree in Economics from Portland State University and studied Law at University of Oregon. At a young age, his career spans a wide variety of fields, from fast food, to union labor, to computer programming. He has published works concerning economics, business, government, and media on blogs for several years. He currently works as an independent software designer specializing in web based applications, open source software, and peer-to-peer (P2P) applications.
Ersun describes his writing as being "in the language of the boardroom from the perspective of the shop floor." He adds that "he has no education in journalism other than reading Hunter S. Thompson." But along with life comes the real experience that indeed creates quality writers. Right now, every detail that can help the general public get ahead in life financially, is of paramount importance.
You can write to Ersun at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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