I recently received information about how our president cancelled a prayer service with Christians, but then prayed with Muslims. And in addition it said that Muslims require either our conversion or our annihilation. With all due respect, it is difficult to navigate all the information that comes our way.
Here are my thoughts on religious genocide, and civic religious ceremonies.
I am a Christian. I love Jesus and I love my country. I work and I pay my taxes. I study religion, history, and economics. I can tell you that our constitution declared that there will be no establishment of religion for our nation. We were meant to be a shining example of a society based on reason, human rights, and democracy. Our founding fathers had just seen the thirty years religious war rage and ravish Europe. They were not going to let religious differences tear our young nation apart.
It is possible through cherry picking the plethora of opinions out there to find extremists from every religion. There are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, and Hindu’s who write things that if generally held, would plunge our world into violent chaos. And in history monstrous examples of genocidal campaigns have occasionally occurred. But the good news is that Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, and Hindus. Live together in peace all over the world. And that is how they like it.
Sure we hear about places like Sri-Lanka, Kashmir, Palestine, and Tibet, where religious identity has become a part of the conflict. But the vast majority of persons from any religion are good people who just want a good life for themselves and their families.
Islam does not at all teach the annihilation of Christians or Jews. Christians and Jews are considered to be “People of the Book.” and are accepted as followers of the one God who made heaven and earth. Just as we Christians accept Judaism as part of our spiritual ancestry, Muslims accept Jesus as born of a virgin, teaching and living truthfully, and coming back at the end of the age to establish God’s judgment.
And indeed in most places then and now, Christians, Muslims, and Jews live together in peace. So both through teaching and history the idea that it is the way of Islam or any other major religion is to annihilate those who do not convert is false. And we Christians do not seek the annihilation of Muslims.
Regarding our national day of prayer not established until 176 years after our independence, I am okay with it. But frankly it does not matter much to me. I see politicians wearing American Flags, and pledging Allegiance to our Flag, then passing harmful legislation, or blocking legislation that would be for the common good of our society. In the same way, I see politicians, calling on God, claiming to be religious, and even praying in public, but then either living lives of moral disrepute, or promoting a kind of Christianity that is far removed from the life and teaching of Jesus Christ we have in the Bible.
It might even be that God hates our National Day of Prayer. The prophet Amos told Israel, “I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and the righteous like an ever-flowing stream.” Amos 5:21-24
I know you understand the difference between real religion and those who just use religion for political expediency. I know you know the difference between those who are sincere but rather self deluded in their faith, and those who hold their faith with humble accuracy. God certainly does.