August 20, 2007
In response to a post over at Get Religion on converts from Islam to other religions,
several readers wrote comments labeling Islam an evil religion and
citing a variety of texts, quotes and incidents as evidence of Islam’s
evil and bloodthirsty nature. (Comments since deleted, thankfully.)
Though I’m no scholar of Islam, I have traveled to the Middle East,
done some reading on the topic, heard several Muslim leaders speak, and
worked with a volunteer Muslim chaplain at the hospital last year.
From what I can tell Islam ain’t inherently evil – at least, not any
more evil than Christianity.
But the characterization of Islam as an evil, intolerant, vengeful
religion is out there. My theory is that this portrayal of a
religion that has 1 billion global adherents depends on anecdotes and
quotes that are misrepresented, out of context, isolated, and/or
unrepresentative of Islam and its tradition. I do not deny that some
heinous things are said and done in the name of Islam, but I am
unwilling to characterize an entire religion based on a some ugly
quotes or anecdotes. Which got me to thinking . . .
How easy would it be to characterize Christianity as an evil
religion based on quotes from Scripture, heinous acts committed by
believers, and incredibly stupid things said by religious and secular
leaders who claim a religious mandate? I think it could be quite easy,
in fact, to gather a series of anecdotes and quotes that make
Christianity look pretty darn evil.
So let’s do it.
From the man who murdered an abortion provider, to the
nasty things Luther said about Jews and Muslims, to the clergy who
provided theological cover for the Third Reich, to nearly anything Pat
Robertson says, to some unpleasant passages of Scripture that deal with
stoning children or wives, our tradition is full of quotes and
incidents that, pulled out of the broad context of the faith and
tradition, make our religion look evil.
My goal is not to beat up on Christianity. Rather, with this little exercise I hope to do the following:
- show how easy it is to make a religion look bad;
- identify the plank in our eye, or to use Lutheran language, do the Law to our Christian tradition; and
- try to see Christianity through a decidedly negative lens, looking
at those things we in the Church too easily dismiss, so that we might
better appreciate the view from outside the Church.
Of course, there are several reasons why this won’t work.
- I don’t have too many readers and this won’t be seen by too many eyeballs;
- the few readers I do have will be offended by the topic; and,
- its summer time and the rest of my readers are on vacation without their computers.
Well, let’s have a go at it anyway. Send me your best examples of
the evil done in the name of Christianity. Write a post on your blog
and send me the link, write a comment on this blogpost, or send me an
email (email address available on the Who is Chris? page). And share this with your friends and neighbors, and let’s see where it goes.