|God is love and those who live in love live in God|
You know how it is when a couple of random events seem to connect? Well, it was like that yesterday. The first random event was to see a picture posted by somebody on Facebook having a pop at the Westboro Baptist Church. The other was in sitting down and watching a film with my wife, dare I say, during the afternoon! We watched "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" (sic).
Anyone of you who has read my stuff over the years I have peddling it know that I struggle with 'hatred' and its fruits (as we all do, I think). I spent a fortnight at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem at a clergy conference concerning the Holocaust and how it is best 'taught' (I even wrote a little blog-ette during that time which you can find here if you wanted too). What I have learned is that without a jot of doubt that the greatest hatred can be traced to the smallest event, fracture or mis-understanding. Documents, where they exist, would also demonstrate the the Jewish Question in the 1940s is one such flimsy house of matches rooted in little if anything of substance - yet remember how that panned out.
Not long ago, I was sat with some other Christians doing that whole 'praying out loud in circles' thing when someone prayed that the "lies of the enemy" might be exposed - referring to those of other faiths. I know, and have known for years, that there is a stream of consciousness in some brands of Christianity that regards Muslims, Hindus and others as the "enemy". This is one of the extremes.
The other extreme is made manifest in the interesting folk of the baptist church I referred to above (and this is their website that genuinely exists and for people who genuinely hold these views). If ever a deep seated, vigorous and bilious hatred of life existed - it is there, sadly. Let us not forget that they are a church, home to those who confess the name of Christ as Lord. They would condemn me (and likely have me killed given the ability) as a paedophile simply because I am "a priest". They rejoice at the deaths of those who made that sacrifice on behalf of innocent people that they didn't know - and will even deign to invade the funerals of such men and women, imposing their horrific theology on the families in their grief. I wonder if, had they been a Muslim organisation, whether they would have already been shut down or its leaders imprisoned for incitement to hatred? That I do not understand. Instead we send over Jeremy Kyle and laugh at them behind our hankies, writing them off as freaks and not worthy of effort or interest.
The simple fact is that much of the visceral hatred that scars our world is seeded in faith. This we know. However, we look at the Muslims and we point a finger, forgetting completely that most antisemitism can trace its roots back to Christianity and its great theologians. I wonder how much of it we see and say nothing. Is praying for a man or woman of another faith in reference to them as 'enemies' - is that the first tiny step? I sense that it might be, and it frightens me in ways I cannot properly convey in words. Equally, I didn't make the challenge at the time, so I therefore share the responsibility - and that is perhaps worse.
I wonder, if every Christians challenged a statement or action that smacked of "we [as Christians] are better then them, and they are bad because...", that we may just have within our feeble grasp a way of saving the lives of real people, either now or in a generation. Why has a world-wide church of hundreds of millions of people not consigned the Westboro folk, in all their diabolical bigotry, to the "court" public response? Who knows, eh.