Yesterday I saw a story in my Facebook newsfeed that shocked and disappointed me. It was about a pig’s head found in front of a new mosque. Apparently that has not been an isolated occurrence (as I found when I googled to confirm its veracity). There have been several incidents.
What really shocked me, though, were the comments. There were cheers and praise for those who committed this hate crime–and no expressions of outrage or sympathy for the worshipers. (Before you ask me why I didn’t post, I wasn’t on a device that would allow me to–and I haven’t been able to find that post since in order to post my response.) And I had to wonder…is this who we are?
I have always believed we are better than this.
Yes, I know there have always been some who are virulently opposed to any religious perspective other than their own. But now it feels like I am seeing and hearing the deepest, darkest thoughts that people have kept hidden for years…but now feel free to release.
I am a committed follower of Jesus–but I have also learned respect for the ways in which others worship…and I have often learned from them as well.
The God I worship does not live just in a box labeled “Christianity.” The God I worship is larger than that–and I realize I may never come to completely understand who that God is. That’s why I find it valuable to try to understand others’ perspectives.
One of the things that concerns me is that I see so many who claim to be Christian making hateful comments towards those who worship differently…who look different…who may speak different languages. And yet…there are so many scriptures in the Bible that Christians claim as their sacred book that should make us behave otherwise:
Exodus 23:9 (NRSV)
You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.
Leviticus 24:22 (NRSV)
You shall have one law for the alien and for the citizen: for I am the Lord your God.
Numbers 15:16 (NRSV)
You and the alien who resides with you shall have the same law and the same ordinance.
Deuteronomy 1:16 (NRSV)
I charged your judges at that time: “Give the members of your community a fair hearing, and judge rightly between one person and another, whether citizen or resident alien.
Deuteronomy 27:19 (NRSV)
“Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien, the orphan, and the widow of justice.” All the people shall say, “Amen!”
Zechariah 7:10 (NRSV)
Do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.
Malachi 3:5 (NRSV)
Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.
Matthew 25:43-35 (The Message)
I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’
“Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’
“He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’
Hebrews 13:2 (NRSV)
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.
We can be better than recent news stories have shown. My faith tradition believes that God still speaks to God’s people today–and in recent revelation this was shared:
God, the Eternal Creator, weeps for the poor, displaced, mistreated, and diseased of the world because of their unnecessary suffering. Such conditions are not God’s will. Open your ears to hear the pleading of mothers and fathers in all nations who desperately seek a future of hope for their children. Do not turn away from them. For in their welfare resides your welfare.
We are better than recent news stories have shown. We must be…for the good of all.