I was really sad when I read that a mosque in Joplin, Missouri was burned down on Monday. It is likely that it was arson since someone had already tried to set it on fire July 4th (only minimal damage was done then). This, along with the even worse tragedy in Wisconsin at the Sikh temple, shows what a messed up world we live in. And it shows that religious extremism and violence against people from other religions is not simply a problem “over there” (wherever that is). It is a problem in America, among those who call themselves Christians.
Many people like to point out how intolerant Muslims are. And yes, there is intolerance among some Muslims. But are we not like the person Jesus spoke of who tries to take the speck out of his brother’s eye even though there is a log in his own (Matthew 7:1-5)? Even among those who would never dream of doing something like burning down a mosque or injuring a person of another faith, we like to think of the world in terms of us versus them.
I’m glad there is a Christian in Joplin who recognizes God’s call to love others as we love ourselves. Ashly Carter, a Christian college student, is planning an event on Saturday to promote “acts of love.” I like it. I think some Christians won’t. Why? Because they will be suspicious that Ashly is promoting an “all religions are the same so let’s love each other” kind of event. I don’t believe all religions are the same. I don’t believe all religions lead us to God (in fact, I don’t believe any religion leads us to God – I bet that will get some people going!). But even if she does believe this (I have no idea what she believes), I still rejoice that people come together in love rather than stay separated in fear and suspicion or even hatred.