Prejudices, Suspicions, and Fear

I just read an opinion article on the CNN website (written by Richard Gabriel) that, for me, spoke volumes. His topic was racial bias, but many of the things he wrote can be applied to more than just race. For example, he points out that we’re all suspicious of “The Other.” In the Zimmerman case, it was the the young man in a hoodie, but the “Other” can also come in the form of a gay co-worker, the Muslim neighbor, the overweight teacher, the barista with tattoos and piercings, even the gun owner. I would add that it can also be those who do not agree with our religious viewpoints.

In other words, we tend to categorize those who seem different from ourselves. Our biases may be the result of life experiences but in many cases, they simply occur because the other person makes us feel uneasy.

While many of us like to think we are bias-free and may even vehemently deny any existence of prejudice or partiality, the cold hard truth is that none of us are neutral.

Even so, do we need to act upon our unfavorable feelings toward the people we consider different from us? Do we need to call them names? Avoid them on the street? Condemn them to a fiery future? Or, god forbid, kill them?

While I would love to see the day when we can talk without judging and listen without condemning,  I’m doubtful it will happen. At least in my lifetime. As has been proven time and again, too many consider themselves righteously correct in their thinking and thus, are unwilling to take responsibility for any resultant actions.

There is little doubt that we will continue to read and hear tragic stories about abortion doctors, individuals in the LGBT community, the homeless, Muslims, and scores of others who do not fit within someone’s standards of  worthiness.

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The Book: Why I Believed

I’m currently reading an excellent book written by a former Christian who ‘believed’ for nearly three decades. In fact, at one time he served as a pastor and missionary so when he left ‘the faith,’ it was not a snap decision.

The writer has expressed many of my own ‘conscious’ thoughts and has also brought many of my ‘dormant’ persuasions to the forefront as well.

The book is titled “Why I Believed: Confessions of a Former Missionary” and was written by Kenneth W. Daniels. It is available to read online, or you can also purchase it as a paperback or ebook. Proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders, PATH, and UNICEF.

Last night, I came across a portion that jumped off the page at me. In my opinion, it describes many in the Christian faith today:

It is comforting to be able to look upon others more conservative or fanatical than we are and to believe our religion — or our particular version of it — to be more urbane and less prone to excess. Thus, the killing of infidels is now seen primarily as a Muslim practice, even though in times past it was a Catholic, Protestant and Jewish practice also, supported by various biblical texts.

I would add that not only in times past, but also in the current day, there are those in the Christian faith who feel that killing people who disagree with their interpretation of biblical texts is justified.

If you are someone who is confused or unsettled about your Christian faith, I urge you to investigate this book. This writer has not set out to ‘slam’ Christians. Rather, he humbly takes readers along on his journey from evangelical missionary to secular humanist. He urges those in the faith to closely examine what they believe and, more importantly, why they believe as they do. He asks that they be open to new ideas and even to consider that their belief system might be a mistake.

P.S. The book has been rated 4.5 stars at Amazon.

Christian Prayers in Public Places

I just came across yet another incident where Christians are upset because they aren’t being allowed to offer prayers at certain public events. This time it was at high school football games in Desoto County, MS.

Apparently pre-game prayer has been regularly offered over the loudspeakers before the games. The practice was recently discontinued because the school system “bowed to pressure” from a Wisconsin anti-religious group.

Of course, this angered and upset hundreds of the faithful and several parents have now put a movement in place to fight the action. They think Christians in the stands should be allowed to recite the “Lord’s Prayer” immediately after the Star Spangled Banner is played/sung. The spokesman for the group says Christians don’t want to “compromise their beliefs” and feels it is their “right” to be able to pray in public.

The question that continues to come to my mind whenever I read about these ‘protests’ is this: What about the Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Jews, atheists, etc.? What about their beliefs (or non-beliefs) and rights? To many of them, praying to the “Christian God” is an offense.

I can’t help but wonder what Christians think they are accomplishing by wanting to make prayer a public activity. Do they actually think they are going to ‘convert’ non-believers just because they hear the “Lord’s Prayer” (or some other prayer) being recited?

Not only that, Jesus told his followers, “when you pray, enter into your closet.” Yet again and again, Christians blatantly ignore this directive.

The Muslim Faith-Can You Look Beyond the Rhetoric?

Much has been said and written about the Muslim people, the Qur’an, and the Islamic faith since the tragedy of 9-11 — and the sad part is that a vast majority of the information has been tainted and twisted to advance certain ideologies.

Even sadder is how few people take the time and effort to research and validate what others claim about the Muslims, their faith, or their holy book. Instead, they buy into the ugliness because, hey, it was those nasty Muslims who killed 3,000 of our people!

The same thing happened after World War II. The Germans and Japanese were ostracized without mercy. Innocent people were blackballed, shunned, and finally deported from the U.S. — simply because of their heritage.

Many people are up-in-arms because Muslims consider their religion to be the only true religion. How is this different from what Christians believe? And who decides?

Some disapprovingly point to the fact that Muslims do not see Jesus in the same light as the Christians because they reject his divinity and condemn the doctine of the Trinity. But does this make them evil? No. It simply means they have a different point of view.

Few realize that the prophet Muhammad spoke approvingly of Jews and Christians and called them fellow “People of the Book;” that is, people who recognize the God of Abraham as the one and only true god. In fact there are numerous statements in the Qur’an that promote tolerance towards non-Muslims. Unfortunately, there are those in the Christian world who refuse to do the same.

It should be recognized that Muslims differ among themselves about certain beliefs — not unlike Christians. There are radicals in both faiths who teach doctrines far different than the teachings contained in their holy books. The individuals who bombed the Twin Towers are good examples, as are those in the Christian faith who kill people who disagree with their interpretation of the scriptures.

I’m fully aware there will be those of you reading this who adamantly disagree with my thoughts. You are entitled to your opinion and I hope you will grant me the same right.

I cannot close this posting without commenting on the proposed Islamic Center in New York. Whether you agree or disagree with the intended location, consider this. One day Ground Zero will be be dominated by a NEW World Trade Center, consisting of four skyscrapers, a memorial and museum, a transportation hub, and a performing arts center. There is little doubt it will be a spectacular edifice and will dwarf any other establishments in the surrounding areas — Muslim or otherwise.

So What if President Obama is Muslim?

There is a video making the rounds via email that totally disgusts me.  It is about President Obama and his Muslim background and is clearly an attempt by the video producers to show him in a negative light by using soundbites and images to promote their personal ideology.

If you haven’t seen it, the link is at the bottom of this posting.

Ever since he took office, President Obama has been trying to get the American people to think positively of the Muslin people and of the Islamic faith. He wants us to stop focusing on the Muslim extremists and realize there are good people in Iran (and other Muslin countries) just as there are in other nations of the world. He says himself that he is trying to fight the negative stereotypes that the American people have of Muslim people.

During WW2, people did the same thing they’re doing today — they condemned every German and Japanese person just because of the actions the governments of these countries took against the U.S. Were all the people bad? No. Surely we know by now there are bad apples in every barrel. Or do we?

Obama has never denied his Muslim background. Would we prefer that he did … and then find out about it later? How would that have set with the American people? Just because he chooses to honor his background rather than deny it and cast it in a bad light, certain people castigate him and call him disloyal to the U.S.

Towards the end of the video, Obama makes the statement that America is not and never will be at war with Islam. He has made it clear in other speeches that we are, however, at war with the extremists and jihadists who want to destroy America.

President Obama once made the comment that we are not a Christian (or a Jewish or a Muslim) nation and many people went ballistic! How dare he! What they failed to hear was his next statement: “We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.”

What is often forgotten — or deliberately overlooked — is that our Constitution does NOT say we are a Christian nation. On the contrary, our forefathers wanted to make it clear that each of us has the right to practice any religion of our choice. (Read the First Amendment — and while you’re at it, read about the religious background of the founders of the Constitution.)

This video is just one more example of individuals trying to whip people into a frenzy and add to the already-present discord and strife in our country. It does nothing but breed fanaticism and an ongoing spiral of hate, fear, and reprisals.

Finally, I find it interesting that those who denounce President Obama’s Muslim background often claim to be Christians … yet they overlook one of the greatest commandments ever uttered by their Leader  … love your neighbor as yourself.

Here is the link to the video.