Who's Taking Blame for Christian Violence?
By Calvin White
Star" - - Now that imams in Britain and Canada are standing up and publicly condemning terrorist acts as anti-Muslim and against the teachings in the Qur'an, I wonder if pressure might be put on Christian leaders to take a similar stand.
Contrary to what some might like to insist, Christianity is not the religion of "an eye for an eye" but it is the religion of Jesus, who refined those earlier directions and distilled the ten commandments into two. One was to "love thy neighbor as thyself." Pretty definitive isn't it? As is the edict of turning the other cheek.
Jesus expected to be betrayed. He expected to be arrested by the authorities. There was no exhortations to prepare for battle. There was no bloody attempt to stop the proceedings.
Even as Jesus was brutalized while carrying his own crucifixion cross and being nailed onto the timbers, there was no violent counterforce from his disciples. Not even an outcry.
No matter where one reads in the accounts of Jesus, the only conclusion one can come to is that Jesus was about love.
So where are the Christian leaders when it comes to violent actions by our Western leaders? Where are the televangelists, who every Sunday take over the airwaves to trumpet the message of Jesus, when it comes to taking on bunker busting bombs and mass carnage?
Where are they when it comes to the death penalty prevalent in the majority of American states?
When President George Bush insists that billions of dollars need to continue flowing to the war effort in Iraq which leads to more American body bags and Iraqi graves, why is there no outcry? Why don't the Christian leaders stand up and challenge those decisions, and passionately assert that Jesus would have sought another way of solving the problems?
In this time when Christianity is on the rise all over America, when there is a growing surge in extolling Christian values, why is it that when the born-again Bush says it's better to fight "them" over there than on American soil, no concerted group of leaders stands up and yells that he's got it wrong?
Like Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair is also born again.
Yet, their combined leadership has been responsible for excruciating death and injury to innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq.
They both claim a righteousness in their policies of destruction. They were even counseled by their secular allies not to resort to the carnage. Where was the equal pressure from the Christian leadership?
Interesting, isn't it, that Muslim fanatics use the idea of holy jihad and rewards in paradise to recruit their dupes into terrible acts of destruction, and in Christian circles there is the solemn assembling for prayer and seeking of blessings for the troops and leaders in their mission of war.
Interesting, isn't it, that polling clearly indicates the Christian right in America is emphatically against bad language on TV and in the movies, horrified by Janet Jackson's bare nipple — but drawn with considerable relish to violence in the same media.
The additional galling irony of Jesus being emblazoned on the foreheads of those in command of the sharpest swords is that Jesus was also all about intelligence. He was all about deeper understanding, about using insight and keenness of mind to solve problems. Think of how the Pharisees tried to trick him by holding up different sections of the law to trip him up.
His disciples picking corn, for instance, and thus working, on the Sabbath. Jesus answered that the Sabbath was for man and not the other way around. There was the adulteress brought before him to be stoned; he responded that any without sin might cast the first stone.
What kind of insight have Bush and Blair employed? What intelligence, what deeper understanding is demonstrated by the tactic of blast and shoot with as much technologically advanced weaponry as is available?
What compassion, what recognition of common humanity is shown when the biggest concern is how to pad the soldiers with as much body Kevlar and the humvees with as much armour as possible so they can kill all the easier without casualties — and thus retain the support of the home front.
How do our current religious leaders think Jesus would react to the concept of collateral damage?
Calvin White is a freelance commentator and poet who lives in British Columbia.
© 2005 Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd.
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