November 17, 2009

Interfaith Community Aligns Against Laypeople

Justin Katz

There can be no doubt that our society is better off with religious leaders who consistently urge against heated discord than who use their influence to rally factions against each other. I worry, though, that this level of disposition to unite with other religious leaders against impliedly barbaric masses comes at the cost of any influence at all:

The Rhode Island interfaith community united together to speak with one voice in its support of the local Muslim community throughout the aftermath of the shootings last Thursday at Fort Hood Army Base in Texas.

Representatives of the Diocese of Providence, the Rhode Island State Council of Churches, the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Rhode Island, and members of different faith communities gathered at the Jewish Community Center, 401 Elmgrove Ave., on Friday, November 6 to extend their support.

Somebody who had somehow missed the news out of Fort Hood would think that there'd been a killing spree against Muslims down South. Indeed, when the next paragraph explains that "authorities have attributed" the shootings to a Muslim — with no mention of any victims, it's important to note — the narrative becomes downright confusing. Who was targeted? Against whom is this "one voice" of religious groups speaking?

The Rev. Dr. Donald C. Anderson, executive minister of the Rhode Island State Council of Churches, said that the reason for this meeting was to stop placing blame on the entire Muslim community.

Who's doing that? Sure, one could find columnists here and there who come close, and yes, there are some among the regular population (me included) who humbly note that the link between Islam and such attacks is, well, not nonexistent and who make the unavoidable observation that international terrorists have taken Islam as a unifying and motivational ideology.

It seems to me that it would be would be much more productive and more conducive to peace for religious leaders to conduct a frank and mutually respectful discourse about how Western society can absorb that reality and help peaceful Muslims to wrest their faith from the grip of the theological fascists whose influence the Fort Hood shooter proves to extend even to Americans. It's easier, to be sure, to condemn a purely hypothetical backlash against too-real violence in a parade of moral vanity, but it damages the credibility of those who participate and minimizes the significance of religion in society.

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"who use their influence to rally factions against each other"

Thats your job Justin, Thats what you do,every day.
Your a divider not a uniter
unlike George W Bush

Posted by: Gay Guy in RI at November 17, 2009 9:26 PM

St. Augustine suggested that sin is loving something that can only make you unhappy. Unity for unity's sake can be a distraction preventing deeper union.

Posted by: Justin Katz at November 17, 2009 9:49 PM
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