Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Peaceful Stand Against Pastor Terry Jones

Photo Credit:
Ian Kushnir

Hundreds of people from different faiths came together Thursday afternoon to take part in the opposition against Florida Pastor Terry Jones. The InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit organized the event, held at Dearborn's Islamic Center of America.

The ICA hosting committee greeted visitors at the door and provided head scarves for women upon entrance. Just before entering the main hall, a large white banner that covered a long table had a number of attendee signatures written on it. In the center of the hall laid a red carpet that led to center stage of the religious panelists. 

As people filed in to take their seats, smiles were exchanged and hugs were shared, giving the gathering a peaceful atmosphere. The attendees, though diverse in the faiths they practice, were unified in their message.
Exerpt from The Dearborn Patch

This is a sight I like to see: unity in difference. But here is a different perspective on the recent events. ‘Spirited Atheist’ Susan Jacoby Writes:

Respect for religion—any religion—is not required under American law, despite the wrongheaded idea that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. You can burn copies of the Torah, the New Testament, or the Koran…

There is absolutely no moral equivalency between the symbolic act of one demented pastor—who apparently commands a congregation of only 30 warped souls—and revenge killings abetted by the voices of so-called religious leaders in Afghanistan
Exerpt from The Washington Post

This is a reaction to the claims of those who blame Pastor Terry Jones for the revenge killings which resulted from his actions.

Of course there is no moral equivalency between disrespect and killings. Although respect for religion is not required by law, I stand for earned respect – those in Dearborn have earned respect and deserved to have been shown it. But lack of respect is not the main issue here; the issue is Jones’s hateful speech and actions. His actions are a perpetuation of a cycle of hate. Hate and anger only leads to more hate and anger.

But what about the interfaith gathering? This breaks from my logic of harm begetting harm. The gathering is significant because it is an example of a hateful action causing a positive reaction: a diverse community uniting. These are the reactions we need to see more often.

In the end, Paster Terry Jones is an example of a hateful person who will merely create more hate in those he is against – this is the downward spiral we need to watch out. Rather than engaging in negative reactions, we must first consider the harm we may be perpetuating. The interfaith response is an example of a path one must consider before engaging in protest.

Perhaps one day responses like this will not only be ‘interfaith’, but inter-faith/non-faith. What a day it will be when atheists will be welcome with arms-wide-open in a country were they are currently its #1 hated minority. Until then, all I can say is this: always consider your reactions; they can be part of the problem or part of the solution.

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