God speaks to the Machine Gun Preacher
Jim Robertson of Calgary heard Dennis Porter's dispatch about Sam Childers, the Machine Gun Preacher on our February 3/6 program and had this to say.
A new and zealous Christian with a machine gun! - at least his heart's in the right place with his orphanage work. As an old and more reflective Christian, I found it was interesting to hear his Biblical rationale for his machine gun tactics. The Bible is among many books that are written from a religious perspective, ie. "God did this, God said that...". Men putting words in God's mouth in order to justify their own actions and motivations is a very old practice indeed. The scary part is when people like the M G Preacher interpret the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, literally. (continues...)
In this case, and fortunately for Christianity, most Christian Fundamentalists are doing good or at least mostly harmless work. The problem is really with other religions (now that the IRA has cleaned up it's act and until another Branch Davidian Nut-case comes along) where Fundamentalists are interpreting their respective scriptures literally but in these cases they do not seem to have positive or at least benign social agendas.
The Air India bombing, a terrible byproduct of the clash between militant Fundamentalist Hindus and Sikhs comes to mind.
The most immediate tragedy is, of course, the militant Fundamentalist Muslim suicide bombers. The literal Jihad*-inducing interpretations of the Quran is a huge issue in Islam. I believe that Islam must come to terms with itself - the moderates (which I believe are the majority of Islam) must stand up and be counted. They must carry the day to a more contemporary interpretation of the Quran and therefore of Islam.
This is all a very long-winded way of suggesting a topic for Dispatches. Why not find a social situation in an Islamic country where believing Muslims are engaged in a social-justice ministry that specifically shouts a resounding "No" to their Jihad*-oriented brethren (or sisteren - not quite a word but it should be!) It would be so timely and refreshing to hear of something good when it comes to the Muslim religion. Please include their interpretation of the Quran and their rationale for their social-justice actions.
All true religions are based on a love of God and humankind. This message needs to get out and we need to stop all of our implied Muslim-bashing. It's never direct Muslim-bashing (much too politically incorrect!), but remaining silent when it comes to the good of Islam amounts to the aforementioned bashing.
*I'm using Jihad in the popular "holy war" meaning of the word. In this regard, it would be interesting to ascertain a Muslim NGO's meaning - since Jihad also refers to the struggle to maintain faith and the struggle to improve Muslim society.
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