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Rev. Susan Russell Headshot

The Gospel According to Hillary

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Let me be abundantly clear: There is absolutely no excuse, rationale or alibi that justifies violence against other members of the human family -- and faith-based violence is categorically antithetical to the core values of ALL world religions.

That said, the events of this week in Libya, Egypt and across the Middle East call us to look at the reality of our interconnectedness as a global community -- and consider how and where we can be agents of peace, justice and compassion: the truly "traditional values" of all three Abrahamic faiths. Here's how journalist Joseph Hanania explains the challenge in a story filed with Aslan Media:

In what businessmen might call cross-promotion, Muslim fundamentalists spread the word about this Christian fundamentalist video. And Hollywood, with its multi-million dollar promotional budgets, could not have been more successful. As word spread, the video scored over one million hits. The results were just as predictable as shouting "fire!" in a crowded theater.

Amid the smoke, Muslim fundamentalists launched an apparently planned military attack. Four American diplomats were murdered, including our popular ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, who had helped overthrow the Libyan dictator. American fundamentalists lit the match and tossed that match into the pile. Libyan (and other Arab) fundamentalists fanned the flame as cover for their planned 9/11 attack. The two groups had worked hand in hand to create this result.

So what can we do? Are we powerless against these forces of fundamentalism that infect all our faith traditions? Are we doomed to stand by helplessly as flames are fanned and fingers are pointed while God's dream of a human family as beloved community is unrealized at best and undermined at worst?

Not according to the U.S. Secretary of State -- who offered nothing less than The Gospel According to Hillary in her speech marking the end of Ramadan on September 13

"Refraining from violence is not a sign of weakness in one's faith; it is absolutely the opposite, a sign that one's faith is unshakable. We can pledge that whenever one person speaks out in ignorance and bigotry, ten voices will answer. They will answer resoundingly against the offense and the insult; answering ignorance with enlightenment; answering hatred with understanding; answering darkness with light."

"In times like these, it can be easy to despair that some differences are irreconcilable, some mountains too steep to climb; we will therefore never reach the level of understanding and peacefulness that we seek, and which I believe the great religions of the world call us to pursue. But that's not what I believe, and I don't think it's what you believe. Part of what makes our country so special is we keep trying. We keep working. We keep investing in our future."

This is not apologizing for America's values -- this is preaching them. This is the kind of leadership we need to debunk what Ed Bacon calls "the myth of the separate self" and instead build up authentic communities of shared values of justice, peace and compassion. This IS the change we can not only believe in but live into. It is ours to choose.

Let us "choose this day" to proclaim the Gospel According to Hillary: to answer ignorance with enlightenment; to answer hatred with understanding and to answer darkness with light.