After spending 18 of the last 30 years in Egypt, I am not a romantic when it comes to the realities of religious intolerance, social discrimination and sectarian violence experienced by many Christians due to religious fanatics who claim to be Christian, Jewish or Muslim. I have overheard various “men of religion” refer to Christians using the religious “M” word, “mushrik” meaning polytheist and idolater or “K” word “kafr” meaning infidel. I’ve heard it all and seen a lot. While two wrongs never make a right, Christians of most denominations should never fail to recall the violence, discrimination and persecution we have been guilty of during our own 2,000 year history “in the name of God and Jesus Christ”.
I cannot speak for Muslims outside of Egypt, but I can try to explain the reactions of many to such a film without equating these reasons to being justifications. Most Americans get quite upset when we watch the American flag being burned or trampled on. We at least get upset if someone desecrates the Bible and Catholics get very upset if someone desecrates the Eucharist. Maybe we don’t burn those who do or torture them anymore, but we have in the past. We claim to be “one nation under God with liberty and justice for all” and yet we have always found at least one race, nationality, religion or orientation to focus on and “go after”.
Western societies that profess “freedom of religion” have moved toward “freedom FROM religion”. Personally, even as a Catholic priest, I feel that “religion” in civil democracies have the obligation to form and educate the individual and collective conscience of its followers and to be “a voice of conscience” in society. However, I oppose any religion dictating to government how it should legislate morality according to any particular religious belief system. At the same time, this is NOT the current reality in the Muslim world whether I/we like it or not. Cultural sensitivity must include religious and social sensitivity.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Movies & Television Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Middle East Egypt * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations
Posted October 3, 2012 at 6:44 am
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