Now when someone insists Islam is the only religion with fringe whack jobs, we can all reply, "Not true! Look at those Christian whack jobs burning Korans in Florida!"
As if somehow the "God Hates Fags" Fred Phelps folks protesting veterans' funerals and the "who gives a crap about inequality and injustice on Earth 'cuz we're preparing for the end of days" crowds weren't enough proof that Christianity also has a few lunatic fringe clinging to the cross.
We should, thusly, bear in mind the source when we hear claims that all Muslims are extreme fundamentalists. This assertion, coming from extreme fundamentalist Christians, would be funny if it weren't eroding the core values of our nation.
Imagine the thought process at work! "Uh, those Muslims are total crazy violent radicals! I mean they're blowing up the Twin Tower and lobbing missiles in the Middle East. We just kill abortion doctors, lynch gay folks and implicitly endorse segregation and racial hatred... But those Muslim fanatics are such barbarians!"
I think this whole episode calls for new religious categorizations. Rather than lumping all Christians together, all Jews together, all Muslims together, etc., let's establish three new cross-denominational groupings: the mainstream, the reformers, and the crazies.
For instance, as a Jew, I'd rather not be associated with the fundamentalist Israeli settlers in Palestinian territory. They can join the crazies. If they object to that classification --- well, that's an encouragement to re-think how out-of-step their religious interpretation is with the mainstream of Judaism and faith and humanity in general.
The majority of Americans and people around the world would join the proud ranks of "the mainstream" --- good people who mean to do well by their God but also see that their connection to other human beings cuts across religion. I still believe that most people are decent and loving and should be represented accordingly, as opposed to lumped in with adherents of the supposedly-same religion who preach hate instead of love.
Meanwhile, folks like Imam Feisel Abdul Rauf would be a reformer. He has written and spoken extensively about a more open and liberal interpretation of Islam and is a voice for transforming mainstream interpretations. In that sense, as a secular Jew who sees religion as a means to inspiring a sense of community and a collective pursuit of justice versus being strictly doctrinaire --- and who thinks religions must evolve over time --- I'd be a reformer too. Not only would I be honored to be in the same grouping with Imam Rauf, I'd be thrilled to no longer be grouped with the Lubovitches (who might have me stoned for writing on Rosh Hashanah).
On the other hand, the Right wing fear mongerers like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin could no longer hide behind the generic moniker of Christianity. For cheering on Islamophobia nationwide, they would join the crazy branch. It's time we recognize that Right wing Christian hate speech, Zionist hate speech and al Qaeda hate speech may have different targets but are driven by the same narrow, jingoistic, elitist and inhumane spirit. No more hate masquerading as religious beliefs.
So if Terry Jones and his Dove World "Church" want to burn sacred religious texts and, along with them, burn any lingering doubt that Jones and those like him represent an extreme and out-of-touch fundamentalist fringe, I say, "Burn, baby, burn!"
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