“With the might of God on our side we will triumph over Iraq. God will watch over our troops and grant us a victory over the threat of Saddam’s army. God will bless us and keep us safe in the coming battle.”
– George W Bush, January 28, 2003.
“We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. God willing, and nothing is too great for God . . . God is our Guardian and Helper, while you have no Guardian or Helper. “
– Osama bin Laden, October 29, 2004.
When violent men, who have the attention of the world, use God’s name like this, it’s no wonder so many people come to the conclusion that religion sanctions violence, or even encourages it. Believe me, I’ve heard the same arguments again and again: religion causes division between people, it causes an “I’m right; you’re wrong” mentality, and of course there’s the obligatory mentioning of wars fought in God’s name. While I don’t have enough space or knowledge to cover what all religions really have to say about violence and bigotry, I’d like to address Christianity, a faith close to my heart and one that often finds itself hijacked by those in power in my home country.
Does God hate gays?
Evangelicals love to quote Scripture. Yet when justifying their own prejudice, these people can be very selective. Take homosexuality for example. Evangelicals cite Leviticus to back up the claim that God hates fags. Yet they conveniently overlook that in this same book of the Old Testament, believers are also told not to shave, go near menstruating women, or eat shellfish, pork or unripe fruit. So where’s the clamor among Republican Senators to ban the outrageous practice of eating crabs?
In fact, Christians are not actually required to follow the Old Testament at all. The Sermon on the Mount makes this clear, when Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets [of the Old Testament]. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17) The word “fulfill” is important here, as in this case it means to bring something to a close – the way the word is used consistently throughout Matthew – the fulfillment in this case being Jesus’ death and resurrection. Since Christians are supposed to believe that this fulfillment has been accomplished, evangelicals really have no business quoting from the Old Testament in trying to make a Christian argument.
Jesus was a bleeding heart liberal
Why might they ignore the words of their own spiritual founder? Just take a look at the kinds of things Jesus said:
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
“Love one another” (John 15:12)
“If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” (Matthew 19:21)
And He goes on and on like this. Talk about bleeding heart liberals! This is the sort of guy Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell would lambast on national television. If you were to take Jesus’ ideas out of context, draft them into a legal document, and try to put them on Bush’s desk, he’d be reaching for the veto stamp faster than you can say “Amen.”
Christianity is just one example of a faith’s beliefs twisted to serve the interests of those in power, often making the faith itself seem like the cause of their violence. Yet the prophets didn’t just preach to the wealthy and powerful; they spoke to the masses. The believers who go to church, mosque, synagogue, the beach, or wherever else they feel close to God all have one thing in common: they are all people seeking to bring some peace and happiness into their lives. This same desire inspired men of peace like Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas Ghandi – who also frequently invoked God – to change history for the better.