by Joe Hargrave
I was going to say something about the Koran burning scheduled to take place on 9/11. When I first heard about it, I had the same reaction many Americans did: this is a reckless provocation. It is heartless and insensitive in a religiously plural republic. Someone should try to talk some sense in to the pastor. And while I still believe all of those things, I have to say that given what I read this morning, I’m really having a hard time being enthusiastic about it.
What I’m referring to is a story reported by CNN of a Bible barbecue in Afghanistan, carried out by our own military. A U.S. soldier somehow “received” – the article doesn’t specify if he requested them or if they were simply sent – a batch of Bibles printed in two Afghan languages. Meanwhile an Al Jazeera video showed television clips of U.S. soldiers praying, and inferred with no evidence that they were being told to “spread Christianity.” This false perception, combined with the presence of the Afghan Bibles, led to a decision to first confiscate, and then to burn the Bibles sent to the soldier, in order to avoid stirring up the locals and encouraging more attacks.
Why didn’t they simply send them back? Because of the sound reasoning that the church that sent them could merely send them to another place in Afghanistan, as if they couldn’t somehow print more if they really wanted to. Well, that, and this: “Troops at posts in war zones are required to burn their trash, [Lt. Col.] Wright said.”
And so there we have it. The Bibles were not seen as sacred holy books that could only be desecrated with the most severe consequences, but as inconvenient rubbish to be burned and disposed of. Now please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that I dismiss the legitimate security concerns associated with the decision to prevent the Bibles from being distributed. But to leap from a legitimate security concern to the designation of our sacred scriptures as “trash” is a leap too far. It is outrageous.
I also want to be clear that I don’t have a problem with Christian tolerance of other faiths. But in our society, Christianity has grown so weak and toothless, while secular arrogance has grown so bold, that no one expects Christians to do anything when their religion is violated. Of course I imagine that any number of churches, Protestant, Orthodox, or Catholic would have gladly taken the Bibles rather than seeing them burned. But now that they are burned, no one cares. There will be no protests, there will be no media coverage, there will be no action, because no one is disturbed enough to take it. Since I sit around and write about stuff all day, this is my meager and insignificant protest.
And no, morons: I do not believe Christians should or need to become the equivalents of Muslim terrorists in order to stand up for their faith. Between nothing and suicide bombings, however, we ought to be able to take actions that are reasonable and relevant in defense of our faith.
On a final note, the military has also been strongly condemning the upcoming Koran burning. Again, I understand the reasons for doing so. I don’t think it is a good idea either, not because I believe the Koran is actually a holy book, but because – in keeping with my perspective on the ground-zero mosque – I think friendship between non-psychopathic Muslims and Westerners is a good idea. But to see the military so strongly condemn the burning of a Koran while designating the Bible as mere trash, I have to say, disturbs my soul, all pragmatic arguments aside.
And in the final analysis, if all we have is pragmatism, if the moral and spiritual foundation and life-force of our civilization contained in that truly holy book is also in the ash heap, then I have to wonder what it is the military is defending in the first place.
“And fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell.” [Matthew 10:28] Now there is a statement of priorities.
[UPDATE: The Koran burning has been canceled as of now; Terry Jones will be meeting with Imam Muhammad Musri, president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida to discuss the possibility of moving the ground-zero mosque. I want to take a moment to point out, first, the double-standard to which Christians and Muslims are held and why they are held to it. Everyone who insisted that “sensitivities” were completely invalid reasons to oppose the GZ mosque, and repeatedly shouted about rights, rights rights, performed a 180-degree turn on the Koran burning issue.
And though I don’t doubt for a second that plenty a mush-headed liberal really has a bias for Islam and a hatred of Christianity, the main reason for the double standard was the simple reality that a significant number of Muslims threatened to mass murder Americans around the world in retaliation, while the majority of Americans only indicated that a GZ mosque would offend them – oh, and there were a few acts of vandalism and one highly dubious physical assault.
More than we ought to be disturbed with Terry Jones, who may have done us all a favor in the end, we ought to be disturbed with threats of violence against innocent people. And we ought not change ourselves, or our society, to accommodate the demands of criminals, murderers, and terrorists. I fear it that it was fear – not genuine compassion, not genuine concern – but fear of dealing with difficult problems and possibly suffering for values we claim to cherish, that was behind the impassioned opposition to pastor Jones. And I don’t see anything good about that.]