No matter how oppressed some of us may feel by the sometimes radical statements and legislation of South Dakota's Christian fundamentalists, let us remember that our Christian friends don't kill us.
Gunmen attacked the Paris headquarters of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo this morning, killing twelve people and wounding seven. Witnesses heard the gunmen shouting "We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad."
In November 2011, its offices were fire-bombed after it had published a special edition, supposedly guest-edited by the prophet Muhammad and temporarily renamed “Charia Hebdo”. The cover was a cartoon of Muhammad threatening the readers with “a hundred lashes if you don’t die laughing”.
The petrol bomb attack completely destroyed the Paris offices, the magazine’s website was hacked and staff were subjected to death threats. But six days later, it published a front page depicting a male Charlie Hebdo cartoonist passionately kissing a bearded Muslim man in front of the charred aftermath of the bombing. The headline was: L’Amour plus fort que la haine (Love is stronger than hate) [Julian Borger, "Fight Intimidation with Controversy: Charlie Hebdo’s Response to Critics," UK Guardian, 2015.01.07].
No Christian offended by my blog commentary, criticism, and occasional satire has burned down my house or physically attacked me. When Kurt Evans* and Larry Kurtz badmouth the entire Catholic Church, good Catholics Troy Jones and Patrick Duffy don't get out the shotguns. The most vile Christian fundamentalists in America shout a lot, but they and their opponents trade slogans and signs, not bullets.
And as far as I know, no followers of Jesus are calling themselves the Christian State, waging terrorism, forcing conversions, and killing thousands of people to forge a Caliphate.
I am reminded of my friend Martin back in high school who wrote a letter to the editor when the local movie theater piously announced it would not be showing Martin Scorcese's Last Temptation of Christ. Martin, a devout Christian, and a fresh high school graduate—the same age as many of the Muslim jihadis propagandized and recruited by ISIS—wrote that his faith would not crumble before a strip of celluloid.
Evidently these gunmen and far too many Muslims believe their god and their prophet will fall before a drawing, a piece of paper, or an unkind word. They apparently do not believe that love is stronger than hate. They feel they must defile the City of Love, the City of Light, the City of Enlightenment, with their murderous fear, all because some harmless French dudes said silly things and drew silly pictures of a guy who's been dead for 1400 years.
A faith so fearful, hateful, and thus weak does not earn my tolerance, let alone my respect.
*Update 19:53 CST: We should note that Kurt Evans badmouthed one Catholic, not the entire Catholic Church, and even apologized for it, saying "it's wrong to use pejorative labels that devalue and dehumanize other people." But our Catholic friends perceived him to be badmouthing Catholics in general... and they still haven't shot him.