THE FOLLOWING ISN’T A RANT. IT’S AN OBSERVATION. I NORMALLY DON’T GET INTO RELIGIOUS MATTERS, BUT I FELT THE NEED TO SHARE.
I was at the Minnesota State Fair this past weekend and saw the Muslim volunteers handing out the “Understanding Islam” cards to help promote greater understanding of their religion and reduce the seemingly rampant Islamaphobia that is running throughout the US. Earlier that morning, I’d watched the news piece about the same “Understanding Islam” volunteers that showed some Minnesota residents were not being very kind to these people. A man approached one volunteer, snatched a card, tore it into pieces and tossed it at the volunteer’s feet. When the reporter asked him why he did that, the man responded, “It’s a religion of hate, isn’t it?” Back to me at the fair, several hours later. The same volunteer was standing across from the fairgrounds, handing out the cards. As 20-30 people walked by him, I turned to him, took a card, and thanked him for being there. I hope I improved his day for just one second. He was just doing what was right for his religion.
Religion of hate? There is no religion that is a religion of hate. Just as there are Islamic extremists, there are also growing numbers of extremists in many religions, including Christianity, that are ruining the religion’s image. If any of us continue to dislike someone because of their religion, we’re essentially becoming our own enemy. Can you imagine what it would be like to be standing somewhere in Iraq, Egypt, or China and trying to hand out “Understanding Christianity” cards? It’d be awfully tough…but we need to remember that we’re not there. We’re here in a nation that promotes and ENCOURAGES freedom of religious belief. Many of our descendants came here to escape the very religious persecution some of us are doing to the followers of Islam.
We’ve gotten things wrong. I could go on and on about flaws in many religions, but we’ve moved away from loving and respecting people (which every religion says is mandatory) to judging and hating because they don’t believe in “our God.” Who cares? We can’t judge them. Any religious figure will tell you that. We just need to love them. We’ve started making religion and politics a one-stop shop and in a society of mixed races and religions, we can’t afford to make a mistake like that. This happened recently in Kosovo from 1986-1998 when nationalism and separatism led to rising tensions between the Serbs and Albanians that resulted in thousands of casualties on both sides. What’s the lesson to learn? Stop confusing America the country with being a Christian. To be American isn’t to be Christian. It never was. To be American is to be free and it’s about time we start remembering that.