THE DAILY OFFICE
Our staff gather to walk through The Daily Office every Wednesday morning before we get into the rudiments of ministerial work.
This morning we all showed up tired and emotionally battered. When we went around the room to check in, every single one of us was processing the tragedy in Orlando.
We opened the book to begin our devotion, and this was the Psalm for the day:
"Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me." (Psalm 144:1-2)
A few of the staff groaned. I even muttered aloud, "Oh God. Not this verse. Not today." As evangelicals who claim the name and message of Jesus, we are frightfully aware of the extremists in our tribe, people who would read a verse like that and use it as justification for hurting those they disagree with. How ironic.
HE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED
We all heard a prominent evangelical leader from the far right of the political spectrum say this yesterday on live television:
"We're looking at a favored group by the left, the homosexuals, and that in Islam is punishable by death or imprisonment or some sanction, so what are the left going to do? How are they going to describe it? And they don't know quite what to do now. The fact that this Islamic gentleman opens fire in a gay nightclub and kills almost 50 homosexuals, that says something and tells the fact that Islam is against homosexuality, so the liberals are going to be scrambling to find some rationale, I think they're going to have a hard time doing it."
He ended the piece by saying,
"The left is having a dilemma of major proportions and I think for those of us who disagree with some of their policies, the best thing to do is to sit on the sidelines and let them kill themselves."
This individual claims to speak for my tribe, but he's wrong. On Sunday evening, I stood on the steps of Judson Memorial Church with advisors from the Mayor's office and religious leaders from all over the city.
We stood in solidarity together not only to lament and pray, but to call our city to action.
I saw Jews, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and Buddhists embracing each other and weeping together. It was a beautiful sight to behold.
You know who else stood on those steps? Muslims that were gay, all of them condemning this senseless act of violence in Orlando, claiming that this is not the real Islam.
A PROPER PARALLEL
During the late 1860's there was a group of people in our country that identified as "Christian."
They were the perpetrators of countless acts of murder and violence toward Blacks, Jews, and yes, those who identified as LGBTQ (although that label didn't exist back then).
You've probably heard of them before. Their name: "The Ku Klux Klan."
Making generalizations about all Muslims, saying that they are all terrorizing extremists is the exact equivalent of saying every person that calls themselves a Christian is a member of the KKK.
Not only is that an intellectually lazy out, it's also an outright fabrication.
THE PRICE OF FREEDOM
What I wish the gentleman quoted above knew is that right now, this very moment, America-loving Muslims are serving in the armed forces, police forces, fire departments, hospitals, schools, and every other facet of public service in order to protect and preserve this man's rights and freedoms to make such generalizations.
And I guess I just really wonder who is perpetrating a bulk of the "terror" in all of this.
Generalizations like this cause people to live their lives afraid of one another, not look for the many, many among us who value peace, coexistence, cooperation, and compassion. Extremists do not define us, nor do they outnumber us.
The crazed extremists do exist. But the tables (and the labels) have flipped. They are, in fact not all Muslim. Many are "Christian."