Monday, July 4, 2016


"No God condones terror.  No grievance justifies the taking of innocent lives, or the oppression of those who are weaker or fewer in number."

Interesting remarks by the president at a prayer breakfast remind us that what we see in ISIS is not a uniquely Middle East horror.

"We see ISIL, a brutal, vicious death cult that, in the name of religion, carries out unspeakable acts of barbarism -- terrorizing religious minorities like the Yezidis, subjecting women to rape as a weapon of war, and claiming the mantle of religious authority for such actions."

"So how do we, as people of faith, reconcile these realities -- the profound good, the strength, the tenacity, the compassion and love that can flow from all of our faiths, operating alongside those who seek to hijack religion for their own murderous ends?"

He went on to paint reality as it is, "Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ."

He didn't mention the thousands of lynchings of black Americans.  He could have, though.  Blacks, well into the 20th century, understood their place wasn't necessarily a safe one.  Lynching (reported) continued into the mid-60's (or 80's). Hate crimes continue.  Orlando, Dallas, San Bernardino, Boston.

March 2014, a leader of the Traditional American Knights of the KKK told a reporter, “We are a Christian organization.”  "It's not a hateful thing to want to maintain White Supremacy," he explained.  On a Twitter feed, he claimed the Klan is “about love for God, race and nation.”  Imagine the confusion in the minds of children being raised in that culture.

It's worth remembering that such hatred and discrimination are destructive and murderous. Justification by religious rhetoric only compounds the depth of harm done.

Dealing with root issues is difficult.

In 1970, I was in a Navy school in Georgia.  My friend Freddie and I had Sunday free and were glad for the chance to get away, go to church, and eat lunch off base.  At the Baptist church in town, we were met by the deacons as we entered, "You'll want to go someplace else," the head deacon told us.  It hadn't occurred to Freddie or to me that him being black was an issue.  I don't hold a grudge, and I hope Freddie doesn't, but that particular knife wound in my heart still hurts a bit sometimes.

When I see hatred and selfishness played out under some religious veil today, well, it's difficult to respond graciously, as you might imagine.  "No God condones terror.  No grievance justifies the taking of innocent lives, or the oppression of those who are weaker or fewer in number." (1)

Liberty and justice for all, as we're reminded today ...
That's our declaration, our deeply-held conviction, perhaps our calling.
We are thankful for every life and inspired by every individual who courageously stands for justice.  It's no small service.

Consider: Terrorism has no religion as a perhaps starting point for further inquiry.
Or (ref), (ref) (ref), it is an ongoing discussion and objectivity is difficult for the fearful.