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Entry 34 – September 11th Anniversaries, Islamic Cultural Centers, and Koran Burnings

September 18, 2010

The September 11th anniversary last Saturday of 9 years seems different to me than the one’s before.  I think much of this has to do with the controversy that is still continuing over a proposed Islamic Cultural Center to be constructed a few blocks away from where the World Trade Center once stood, and a book burning (postponed) of the Koran planned by a small Protestant Church Congregation in Florida. 

The destruction and killing that took place over 9 years ago was something most Americans, myself included, were not used to seeing.  The World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania were in many respects giant torture chambers for the over 2,700 people, many who had to make the horrific choice of jumping from 40 stories up in the air to their death, or being consumed by an unquenchable fire.  These were people like you and me reading this right now who, through no fault of their own, found themselves working in an impossible situation.  People who went to work that day never had a chance against those hateful people who were bent on killing indiscriminately. 

I know there are many out there who think the people who committed this killing were religiously inspired.  Yes, for the most part I think that’s true.  And I also know there are some who blame Islam for all the lives lost on September 11th.  Now while I think Islam does have alot to answer for itself, as best an idealogy based on the supernatural revelations of its prophets and holy people can, I think in the answering, one must undergo a simple thought experiment.

We have a number of ‘holy’ books that various billions of people on our planet attest to as the one ‘true’ sacred revelation from ‘God’; think Bible, Koran, Talmud, Upanishads, Vedas, etc.  If we single out the Bible in our thought experiment, surely we can find passages where genocide and retribution toward those who work against ‘God’ and ‘his ways’ are justified.  Don’t believe me?  Look up in your Bibles the following passages:

When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you may nations…then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them and show them no mercy.” Deuteronomy 7:1-2, NIV.or…do not leave alive anything that breaths. Completely destroy them…as the Lord your God has commanded you…” Deuteronomy 20:16, NIV. 
 

Now just because there are passages in the Christian Bible that approve violence, I don’t know too many Christians who would take these same passages to heart and actually use them to commit egregious acts against an entire group of people.  However, the fact remains that in your ‘Holy’ book, you have passages that don’t necessarily paint a glowing picture of your all loving, yet quite jealous Deity.   

So, let’s continue our thought experiment, and extend it out to someone else’s ‘Holy’ book, oh let’s see, how about the Koran, Islam’s sacred text and oral traditions.  I’m sure, like we did with the Bible, we can find plenty of examples in the Koran where violence is sanctioned, possibly even encouraged against people who disobey God. 

In the same breath though, remember that Islam is practiced by over a billion people on our planet.  Let me say that again, Islam is practiced by over a billion people.  At last check, I didn’t see over a billion acts of utter carnage flowing from all corners of the world.  Like Christians who know which verses to cherry pick and live their lives by, Muslims do the same with their Koran.  We should all keep in mind that the small subset of Muslims who practice terrorism and violent tactics in some parts of the world is just that, a small subset of the entire religion of Islam.  There were and still are small subsets of Christians who practice acts of violence against minorities, most noteably blacks and homosexuals.  Do we need to condemn an entire religion for some of its followers who probably would kill and do bad things regardless of their belief in any supernatural being.   

The real threat to our country, and the world, as I see it, comes not from a particular religion looking to gain a foothold (SPOILER ALERT: They ALL do!  They all want to spread their “good news”), rather it comes from uneducated masses of people who act out of fear and irrationality, rather than calm and reasoning.  I’ll take a religious person every day of the week and twice on Tuesday with the latter traits, over an areligious person with the former. 

If we want to have a better world, we need to teach our children, as well as our adults the importance of a secular democracy where church and state are separate, religious people can practice their faith without reprisal, and all people, religious and areligious, can have civil discourse and debate of ideas using logic and reasoning.

My thoughts (which are incidentally my prayers) are with the families of the people who lost their lives over 9 years ago in New York City, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania.  These family members who remain come from all walks of life, and as I’m sure with the loss of any loved one, still ache for that person to return and be with them again.  I lost my Dad over 2 years ago to cancer, and while I know it’s a far cry from losing someone in a terrorist attack, losing him is still as fresh today as it was 2 years ago, and I miss him more today than I did yesterday.  

Thanks for stopping by,

TRC

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