Friday, January 9, 2009

World Religions Speak Cruel Things

Recently in the Toledo Blade, there have been many letters to the editor castigating Islam for urging war and hate among its followers.  This topic has become more intense as the Israeli attacks on Gaza continue.  Letters supporting both Israel as well as the Palestinians often point out the ugliness in the Holy Book of both religions. 

A Christian minister today penned his own letter shining a red light on Christian cruelty in his Holy Book.  He writes:

All religious groups have some cruelty

In response to the Dec. 30 letter to the editor about violence in the Qur'an, there also are verses about violence in the Bible.

From the book of Revelation: "And he [Jesus] is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and his name is called the word of God .•.•. from his mouth comes a sharp sword, so that he may smite the nations .•.•. these two [leaders] were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of him [Jesus] who sat upon the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh."

There are enough violent quotes and deeds within Christianity to fill an encyclopedia. "Have mercy on these poor people. Stab, smite, slay, whoever can. If you die in doing it, well for you!" (Martin Luther regarding the peasants' revolution of 1525)

Therefore, as a Christian pastor who believes in truth, and as a citizen of this land who believes in liberty and justice for all, I hope that we can hold together as a community.

First, I hope we can admit that every religion struggles with justice and righteousness. The majority position of every major religion is about living peaceably with their neighbors.

We need to understand the context of these violent verses in holy books, beginning with our own.

Second, I hope we can embrace the diversity within our own community of Toledo.

Who would wish that we become polarized like Northern Ireland?

It is hurtful to attack the integrity of the thousands of good Muslims in our community by saying they are not living compatibly with democracy.

Perhaps as a new year's resolution we should all promise to study world religions and world history in order to erase the hate from ourselves, and emerge a better and more hopeful Holy Toledo.

The Rev. Ed Heilman

Park United Church of Christ
Harvard Boulevard

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