What kind of thinking prompted the contest in Garland, Texas to see who could produce the most offensive cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad? Who thought it was a great idea to provide a deliberately provocative caricature of the Prophet of Islam? And who seemed not to care about any expected outrage from the Islamic community? All in the name of “free speech” in America?
What does Christian leadership say in the face of this kind of deliberate offense toward another major world religion? Is there a “word from the Lord” on this matter?
John Buchanan recently quoted a statement from Hans Kung: “There will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions. There will be no peace among the religions without dialogue among the religions.”
I recently re-read and led a Sunday morning discussion of Brian McLaren’s book, A GENEROUS ORTHODOXY. While unapologetically a Christian and follower of Jesus, McClaren writes: “The Christian faith, I am proposing, should be a welcome friend to other religions of the world, not a threat. We should be seen as a protector of their heritages, a defender against common enemies, not one of the enemies.” (p. 254) He further suggests that Christians should actually talk with people of other faiths, engaging in gentle and respectful dialogue. Finally, he adds, “As a generously orthodox Christian, I consider myself not above Buddhists and Muslims and others, but below them as a servant. Better, I consider myself with them as a neighbor and servant.” (p. 263)
The Muhammad caricature exhibit in Garland, Texas this week was a mean-spirited, uncalled-for confrontation and unworthy of any Christian support or affirmation. Ours is not to ridicule or mock another religion, but to lift up the good in all religions. This is part of what it means to be Christian. And I think it is important to say so!
WPA Commission on Archives and History