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A Baptist gentleman that I know was talking to me the other day about the Muslims he’s seen in the papers.
“You see, they’re so intolerant! They don’t let anybody over there be Christian or Jewish or whatever.”
“That’s just the fundamentalists, though,” I responded.
“Oh yeah? Well when Islam first came about and they started taking over everywhere and conquering all the Christian lands, they had a law back then that said it was illegal to convert a Muslim. If you did, they would kill you!”
“But don’t you get all fired up when people even talk to you about other faiths, let alone try to convert you? When was the last time you said something nice about a Mormon that came to your door?”
“Yeah, but I’m not going to kill them. My religion’s never done that! My Bible would never teach something like that the way their Koran does. That’s just aweful.”
Indeed, I thought later after we had parted, to teach such a thing of intolerance would be terrible. What religion could claim to be good that taught violence based on insecurites. Wouldn’t a religion be terrible if it taught this in it’s scripture?:
“If anyone secretly entices you—even if it is your brother, your father’s son or your mother’s son, or your own son or daughter, or the wife you embrace, or your most intimate friend—saying, ‘Let us go and worship other gods’, whom neither you nor your ancestors have known, 7any of the gods of the peoples that are around you, whether near you or far away from you, from one end of the earth to the other, 8you must not yield to or heed any such persons. Show them no pity or compassion and do not shield them. 9But you shall surely kill them; your own hand shall be first against them to execute them, and afterwards the hand of all the people. 10Stone them to death for trying to turn you away from the Lord your God…”
Stone them to death?!?! Can you imagine a religion in today’s modern world that would teach such a thing in it’s scripture? I hear so many Christians here in the West cry against such intolerance. Such a book that holds words like that can’t be holy, they cry!
I’m not sure what worries me more, though. Is it that the same Christians I hear berating such teachings as the Word of God then turn around and attack people of other faiths just for being visible? Or that these same Christians who think such violent actions against converting someone is absurd will turn around and try to impress laws upon our own country that favor their own religion? Or is it that Chirstians who would condem all of Islam for the extreme views of a fundamentalist minority would forget their own religious history of inquisitions, witch hunts and lynchings?
Or is what worries me most the fact that the above passage isn’t found in Al-Qur’an, but instead I came across it in my daily lectionary, in a reading from Deuteronomy…in my faith’s own “Holy Scripture”…in what we keep trying to say is the innerrant “Word of God”?
How terrible the image we see through the window when we come to find out that the window is only a mirror.