Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ground Zero, Mosques, Christian Americans, the Pakistani Floods, and the Good Samaritan

     I've had it with all the so-called debate about the "Ground Zero mosque."  A small group of radical right-wing Christian Americans, who enjoy religious liberty thanks to the First Amendment, have usurped the national political debate by calling for restrictions of Muslims' religious liberty and freedom to gather and worship.  These truly un-American and McCarthy-like calls for the end of religious liberty in the "Land of the Free" are an affront to human dignity and compassion.

Image via Atlas Shrugs
     In the Christian scriptures, Jesus of Nazareth repeatedly breaks from the social and religious norms of his time in order to reach out to those on the margins (lepers, prostitutes, divorced women, adulterers, children, the ill, criminals) and to those of others faiths (Samaritans, gentiles, Romans), persons considered taboo by the Jewish religious authority of his time.  

    Christians love the parables attributed to Jesus, especially  "The Good Samaritan," which in it's time was shocking for its Jewish listeners.  In response to the question, "Who is my neighbor?"  Jesus instructs his disciples to imagine an evil Samaritan doing good to help an injured Jew after two other pious Jews have passed by leaving the injured party for dead.  This was the "surprise" twist in the parable that shocked Jesus' original Jewish listeners, who segregated themselves from anyone different and would have left an injured Samaritan for dead.  Even their religious enemies were their neighbors.
     Currently in Pakistan,  20 million human beings are in danger of dying following devastating floods. More floods are predicted.  These people happen to be Muslims living in a country where the small radical religious minority that masterminded 9/11 is possibly hiding, a religious minority that does not represent the views of the Muslim majority, but has violently bludgeoned the powerless and poverty-stricken population of Pakistan for decades.  

     Instead of helping the 20 million that have been passed by on the side of the road, we Americans have allowed the hang-ups of a tiny militant right-wing Christian minority to dominate the nation's attention, focusing it upon on the building of a mosque by Muslims, who had nothing to do with the execution of the 9/11 attacks.  Instead, the American majority is caught up in a "debate" about the validity of the First Amendment.  Those calling for the end to the building of a mosque in Manhattan and/or even the halt to the building of all mosques in the United States are committing the same crimes as their nemeses in Al-Qaeda, who restrict the religious praxis of those living under the noses of their guns.

     What a shocking twist of events it would be if the American Christian majority let go of their fear of the "evil other," the modern day Samaritan, and instead focused its dialog and resources on reaching out to the millions of Pakistanis who were robbed of their infrastructure, security and health first by Al-Qaeda, then by American invasion, and now by catastrophic flooding.

     Who are American Christians?  Are they the priest and the Levite, who were more concerned with protecting their nation's religious purity and passed by the half-dead man on the side of the road, or are they going to be the good Samaritan?

     This atheist heretic ex-Catholic-priest calls on you, the Christian majority, who have control of our nation and its wealth, to follow the example of your Jesus' good Samaritan, to "go and do likewise."  End the cycle of hatred before it's too late.

     Here is the response of an American citizen, Rudi Odeh-Ramadan, who was a 9/11 responder and happens to be Muslim.

Here is Keith Olbermann's special comment on the "Ground Zero mosque."

What we Americans are ignoring.