I recently had the opportunity to view a film documentary that examined the age old conflict between Muslims and Christians. I found it very disturbing.
Normally the term extremism these days is most often found coupled with the word Muslim. It is an unfortunate fact that Muslims have an expanding element of individuals who are so committed to this religion that they wish it to be their government as well (Sharia Law), and they wish to impose it on everyone else. Make no mistake…that is their aim. Still, having said that, one can’t help but to notice that extremism exists within the Christian community as well. The fundamentalist groups can often be found to have a fanatical commitment to not tolerating anyone who is different than they are. They emphasize ritual, form and law and often enter the political realm and seek to change religious or socially accepted behaviors that don’t meet with their religious standards. It’s a perfect storm of differing ideas. The separation of Church and State is a powerful and important ideal, and we need to keep that in mind.
Do I have an opinion which one of these groups is correct? Sure, but nevertheless I am certain that either group is ultimately going to be destructive to a peaceful and free society. Both seek to impose God’s control on people he designed to be free to behave in a manner that would, in the end, be solely His responsibility to judge. So, where behaviors do not impinge significantly upon another in society, we have an obligation to let them be (yes, I know that impingement is sometimes hard to decide.) Certainly, we can come along side and encourage, in love, a different set of behaviors and beliefs. In the end, however, we need to let it go.
When I examine the Muslim approach to controlling behavior and beliefs, I am stunned by its violence. The encouragement to kill a woman who is raped, a child who marries a non-believer, or simply kill a non-believer seems extreme to the point of insanity. The idea that if we simply leave them alone in the middle east, then they will leave us alone doesn’t fit with the facts of their beliefs or actions, and for sure the end result would also be the annihilation of the Jewish race. Their numbers in our country and other western nations are increasing rapidly due to immigration and just plain out reproducing “us.” They are not content to live just in their own “world.” Are there moderates among them who would not wish to impose violence upon the Western beliefs such as Christianity. Yes, most definitely! Yet those who aren’t moderate will likely do such damage as can hardly be imagined, and it will be even worse if the Christian extremists get involved treating Muslims like Christians have in their violent attacks on abortionists and soldiers.
Playing out this thirteen hundred year-old conflict doesn’t paint a pretty picture for the future. Tolerance is the only answer, and it is in short supply.