Love Thy Neighbor, Yeah Right?

I guess for some who claim to be Christian, Matthew 22:37-39 is one of those conditional commandments that only apply to other Christians and not to everyone.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:37-39

It has been my understanding that love thy neighbor applies to everyone, not just your Christian neighbor.

This is what I believe many of my fellow Christians continue to misrepresent Christ, because they often use God, Jesus and the Bible to either damn people to a living hell of torment while using God, Jesus or the Bible as a proxy for their discrimination, bigotry and intolerance towards others.

Jesus did not waste his time discerning ethnicity, culture or religious beliefs in his ministry. He loved everyone the same, even when they did not love or demonstrate that love to or for him. As I know there are some who will point out an instance of Matthew 15:23 as a counter argument, but I look at their motives in making this argument while ignoring the counter arguments to their counter argument. This is often where we both get side tracked and entangled in conversations based on individual biases and preferences. So we miss the point.

Why Do I Care About Muslims?

I take this point up not to agitate or to apologize to anyone. I take this point up, because underneath the surface of this debate is an unconscious undertone of religious bigotry at work against the Islamic Center.

Some may ask the question, “As a Christian, why do I or should I care about Muslims, Islam or a building?

I care because it is my understanding and belief as a Christian that I am to love my neighbor as I love myself. I care because I still have not found a logical or spiritual reason why I should discriminate against someone.

Unfortunately many who claims to practice Christianity as are those who claims to practice Islam has perverted the faith by distorting what is true. This is the case within any spiritual belief. There will always be some faction who may claim to be fundamentalist of the tradition, but fail to practice the fundamentals of the tradition. That is essential mutual respect of one another.

Why should I care?

I care because I know when you have had the opportunity to interact with many persons who practice Islam on an ongoing basis that interaction develops into a friendship and friendship into a kinship. That only occurs when both practice mutual respect towards each other. That’s why I care. Why don’t you should be the question?

Walk By Faith

What motivates me to speak as a Christian in defense of Muslims is first my adherence to my faith in where I sincerely strive to practice it in truth, not in perception of it or having truth. This puts another meaning to II Corinthians 5:7, because if you walk by faith and not by sight you are not concerned about being perceived to be right, true or spiritual, because it will be seen in your actions. What you defend, what you cherish, what you practice. In essence, whether you walk by faith or just concerned by being seen as walking by faith.

The Beloved Community?

Another reason why the opposition to the Islamic Center of Murfressboro attracted by attention is has nothing to do with the proxy of zoning issues that are waged, but the undertone of religious intolerance at work.

I’m not saying one side’s opinion is infallible and the other’s opinion is fallible, because both sides should be heard, but if this was a Christian organization seeking the same property in the same manner there may be similar zoning related questions or obstacles to be accounted for, but the public opposition would not be comparable if any at all. I’m sure some may not be honest enough to admit that probability, but this is why I harp on being considerate of others beyond your own understanding.

There’s a history of religious intolerance directed towards the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro. January of this year the sign that read “Future Home of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro” was vandalized with the words, “Not Welcomed”. That’s a fine example of the “Love Thy Neighbor.”

So the sudden opposition demonstrated by some should not be a big surprise, nor should the claims of zoning or legalities should be considered without suspicion of bias.

Conclusion

If America is ever going to be true to its words, then we must adhere to those words we claim to cherish. We the people may be the beginning of the preamble of the constitution of the United States, but when that statement was first written and the document was complete, ‘We’ did not included ‘Me’. The same continues to be true each time we don’t consider others and fall into the comforts of only thinking about me.

Many people who say they love America only want to focus on the good of America. We cling to our guns and religion like a 2nd Amendment militias. If we are to celebrate our religious freedoms, then stop opposing the right to religious freedom. Just because someone doesn’t believe what you believe doesn’t give you the right to oppose them for wanting to lawfully and respectfully practice what they believe.

References & Inspirations
WSMV: Nashville – 18 January 2010 “Murfreesboro Islamic Center Sign Vandalized
Daily News Journal – 18 June 2010 “Mosque’s Approval Draws Residents’ Ire
Daily News Journal – 17 June 2010 “Mosque Faces Challenge
Daily News Journal – 17 June 2010 “Letter to Editor: Debate Needed on Islamic Center
Religious Tolerance “Thomas Jefferson’s 1777 Draft of a Bill for Religious Freedom
Religious Tolerance “An Act for Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia 1786
The Holy Bible (NIV) “Matthew 22” Specifically verses 23 until the end of the chapter
Islamic Center of Murfreesboro “Official Website

Human Rights First – “2008 Hate Crime Survey Results: Violence Against Muslims

Terror by Another Name

In February we witnessed two senseless, but high-profile acts of criminal violence that would have been labeled terrorism if the victimizer were an Arab Muslim with a foreign-sounding name.

But the people who committed these acts of violence, however, were White. Isn’t it interesting that our political and certain members of the media never used the word “terrorism” in its discussions?

John Patrick Bedell, a 36-year-old man from California, walked up to two security guards outside the Pentagon Metro station in suburban Washington D.C. and started shooting. I guess he had a death wish, because you don’t come to the Pentagon with a gun-in-hand shooting and expect to live long. As expected he was shot and killed.

According to The Christian Science Monitor, (Note: not me or Liberals, President Obama or any other group some like to issue unfitting names towards) said Mr. Bedell appeared “to have been a right-wing extremist with virulent anti-government feelings” and also battled mental illness before his shooting rampage.

Now I’m not suggesting you have to be crazy to hold right-wing views, because I know some intelligent and level headed conservatives do exist. But this is what I’ve been warning you about for so long that some accused me of “using the race card” or the most ridiculous harboring “racial resentment”.

I’m just pointing out the unconscious racism, bias, prejudice or discrimination out to you so you can do something to correct it. My hand is extended, but you must psychologically unclench your fist in order to receive it.

But something else happen in February, because another anti-government extremist named Joseph Stack who happen to be White flew a plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas that killing two people and injuring 13 others.

According to media reports, Mr. Stack had left behind a disjointed suicide letter in which he expressed his hatred of our American government and outlined grievances with the IRS, chillingly stating that “violence not only is the answer; it is the only answer.”

Now these attacks come at a time of an increasingly alarming growth in domestic extremist-group activism across the United States or should I say those who call themselves patriots.

A recently released law center report showed these so-called patriot groups were steeped in anti-government conspiracy theories and grew from 149 in 2008 to 512 in 2009. That’s a 244% increase that the Southern Poverty Law Center report judged to be an “astonishing” rise in the one-year period.

What is interesting is the timing. What significant socio-cultural psychological shift occurred in the U.S. in 2008 that would encourage this sort of activity?

I’ll let you ponder that one for a minute as I continue.

January 20, 2009 President Obama took the oath of office. Now according to the SPLC Report in addition to other reports from various organizations that monitor this sort of activity, the number of these groups that are domestic extremist paramilitary militias grew from 42 in 2008 to 127 in 2009.

But race has nothing to do with it. It’s the ploys of a liberal big government socialist take over.

Now imagine the response if this was committed by someone with a ‘funny-sounding name’ (which is also an insensitive phrase) or Heaven forbid they’re Black, Latino or Asian. The world as you know it would end.

Seriously, this is what I’ve tried to convey to you. It’s not just Democrats who get it, because there are some Republicans who has gave the same type of warning, but they’re cast as being too moderate for the party and essentially ran out of the party or demonized by the same media who fails to call it as it is.

I don’t mind the political discourse, but for far too long both sides have harbored such a distain for the other that discourse is virtually impossible and replaced with political talking points.

Others have chosen to simply call anyone who disagrees or even challenges their ideology with warnings of discrimination as being the racist. An absolutely ridiculous and telling statement of how uncomfortable and unprepared they truly are. You get defensive when you have no defense.

So you ask what proof I have for my accusations and social analysis.

Although I anticipate the response some individuals may choose in response to this, I doubt many if any will have the ethical courage to address the bigger issue of not only unconscious racism, but overt discrimination, political extremism, white privilege, religious bias in addition to areas of self-hatred and a support of unpatriotic activities and calling yourself patriots. You prove me right ever single time. Some are too ignorant of history, inconsiderate and culturally unaware to sincerely grasp what is really going on for the feeling of acceptance and a false sense of social maturity.

Because Theodore Kaczynski (Unabomber), Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma City bomber), Eric Rudolph (1996 Olympic Park bomber in Atlanta), James von Brunn (Holocaust Museum Shooter), Joseph Stack (IRS Attacker), John Patrick Bedell (Pentagon shooter), and shall I not include so many other instances that dates back each year for decades, including certain hooded and steel booted organizations. Should I dare say that all were white men motivated by their respective ideologies that drove them to violent attacks? But surprisingly, the term “terrorism” has never seemed to have been applied to any of them. I wonder why.

How persuasive is hate + fear + ignorance + a lack of socialization? Apparently very for some. But I’m the racist because I have no fear of talking candidly about race. But I harbor racial resentment towards Whites, because I point out unconscious racism amongst Whites. But you fail to consider all of my arguments that counter those accusations.

Just lay your misconceptions aside for a moment if you can. If I or any other Black, Latino, Arab or Asian harbor any level of animosity towards Whites how could I or they function in American society?

If you just shadowed a non-white person for a month, you’ll discover many of them fluidly interact with Whites without issue. Yes, there are racist among these groups too, but I speak of the majority. In fact I would say the majority of Whites don’t harbor any animosity towards other groups. But the problem is the silence.

Who is willing to speak up? Who is willing to say what must be said? Who is willing?

Oh let me stop before I get started.

So I will conclude by asking you this question. Why does terrorist not apply to other white extremists?

Note: This is where those who may try to comment in opposition will absolutely avoid the question and seek to find areas where they can discredit or cause confusion.


Work Cited & Additional References

Iftikhar, Arsalan (March 10, 2010). “Extremist of any color can commit terrorism” from CNN International Edition: http://edition.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/03/09/iftikhar.white.terrorism/index.html?hpt=C2

Hanna, Jason (June 11, 2009). “Hate groups riled up, researchers say” from CNN: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/US/06/11/hate.groups/index.html#cnnSTCText

Chen, Stephanie (February 26, 2009). “Growing hate groups blame Obama, economy” from CNN: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/US/02/26/hate.groups.report/index.html#cnnSTCText

Preston, Mark (January 16, 2009). “White supremacist watched in lead up to Obama administration” from CNN: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/01/16/obama.white.supremacists/index.html#cnnSTCText

Adams, Jonathan (March 10, 2010). “Jihad Jane and 7 others held in plot to kill Swedish cartoonist” from The Christian Science Monitor: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/terrorism-security/2010/0310/Jihad-Jane-and-7-others-held-in-plot-to-kill-Swedish-cartoonist

Fear Itself

There’s nothing to fear, but fear itself.” – FDR

The alternative to the hypocritical ideology of the politicized Justice Department of the previous Presidential Administration is what you are seeing now. Republicans, Conservatives who fail to think before you speak and analyze just take a moment to place yourself in the terrorist and defense attorney’s shoes and think about this. Stop listening to the FEAR News Channel for a moment and consider the real outcome in terms of the justice system that you claim to love.

If you honestly believe in the constitution and the justice system, allow it to work. Where’s your so-called patriotism?

When you think about it, what this Justice Department is doing is almost ensuring a guilty verdict by having it in a city mostly affected by the act of terrorism. How impartial of a jury are you going to get in New York City towards a terrorist?

So if you’re the prosecutor this is where you want it to be.

The media terrorist are the ones who are promoting fear to an already culturally scared, religiously bias and politically disgruntled group of people who only want to have someone to be mad at or something to fear. Each one of you can be upset with me on this post and say whatever hateful thing you can think of or mimic from some talk show host. It doesn’t affect me, because I already know who I am and I’m just trying to give you a different perspective that is not tainted with fear.

If I was the terrorist, I would want to go somewhere less hostile towards me than New York City or Washington DC area. But the Justice Department strategy is to follow the rule of law and in this case get a conviction. How do you raise the odds of a conviction? You go to where the jury selection pool is in your favor.

You don’t have to like it, but this is on point. Mark my words. Any terrorist who stands trail in NYC will get convicted. What’s the punishment for the crime of terrorism?

The war, fear and hate mongers can answer this one… DEATH.

Where is your faith in what you say you believe in REPUBLICANS?

Where is your faith in what you say you believe in DEMOCRATS?

If you claim to love this country, love it enough to have faith in its systems of justice. There are many many many issues where crimes have gone unpunished, from someone as powerful as a former Vice-President to the gang banger on the street or even the unsuspecting crime from the kid from an upper middle-class home in your city.

The arc of the moral universe is blind, but it bends towards justice.” – MLK

I can offer quite a few quotes on fear for those who fear. What amazes me is those who fear often claim to be Christian. Which is astonishing, because of what the Bible says about fear.

I’ve stopped listening to the promoters of fear a long time ago, because they are often more motivated out of fear, misconceptions, unawareness and hate than they are anything else. You don’t have to like what I have to say, but wait to see who is right on this one. I bet those who disagree with me will not have the courage to reconsider their ways afterwards.

Why? Because of Fear Itself.

 

God Hates What?

According to Advocate of the Social Gospel, September 1948 – March 1963 of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr. King wrote that the Christian church was “the greatest preserver of the status quo” and, thereby, “one of the chief exponents of racial bigotry.” He concluded that “the church, in its present state, is not the hope of the world. I believe that nothing has so persistently and effectively blocked the way of salvation as the church.”

Now if YouTube, FOX News or certain talk radio programs were around while Dr. King was living you would have certain people who would be calling him a racist. Heaven forbid let there be someone in the church who was running for a political office, because then his/her connection to Dr. King would have been used as a political diversion to gather votes. But I will go into detail another day, because I use this as jumping off point to discuss an incident with what I call so-called Christians.

Today many Christians today appear to want a play-doh Jesus; a Jesus that they can mold and conform into whatever they want him to be to fit their chosen ideology. We’re more content with making Jesus acceptable to us instead of making ourselves acceptable to him.

Dr. King also said that “it’s appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.

So how much have things changed?

I can go down the line with countless references and examples of racism, discrimination, hypocrisy, bigotry, intolerance and discrimination in ALL CHURCHES. Yes, that is including yours and mine, regardless of how righteous you pretend to be. If we were comfortable in our beliefs we would be confront the church, instead many of us choose to conform to it as it continues to conform to the world it’s in.

Before I continue allow me to add that I can only speak to the Christian church. But I submit that the same level of racism, bigotry, discrimination and intolerance is found in other religious organizations too.

Now there will be those who will immediately be offended and get defensive towards such an aggressive line of accusations aimed at the church. The Church itself is not the problem, nor is Christ. It’s those within the church and proclaim to be followers of Christ where the problem lives. I’m not questioning Christ, but those who say they follow Christ and discriminate against their fellow man or woman.

Why is the church so segregated?

Even in theology its segregated. One believing they are they are the only way and all others will go to Hell. Well if that is true, why don’t you invite that church to your church or visit them. How can you say that I’m going to Hell if you won’t talk to me or if I don’t agree with you. Who’s to say that we both aren’t going to Hell because we refuse to fellowship with one another?

I already know I’m going to hear something from this one, but someone has to address the division in the church, the division in our minds. So often many people just go to church without realizing that they are the church.

There are so many examples to choose from I had a difficult time selecting a few to illustrate the point, but the folks at Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas provided me with a good starting point with their latest righteous indignation that they call a protest.

What are we teaching our kids?

OK, before I begin I must ask “What in Hell are these people teaching their kids?” I’m not cussing, because Hell is the only place I can think of that could persuade a so-called church to use children as sympathetic instruments for promoting hate filled propaganda.

After reading this article, one that I strongly recommend you to take a peak at, I have no apologies or apprehensions about standing with my Jewish friends both known and unknown against this type of hateful propaganda promoted by the Westboro Baptist Church and those who agree with their philosophy.

I agree with Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum’s response because the voice of hate, regardless of how illogical it is, is still a voice. If we are to be true to who we are as people of faith and/or goodwill despite our beliefs and non-beliefs we should consider the voices of hate. Consider and address it with caution, concern, hope, love and truth. As Rabbi Kleinbaum said, “I personally believe it’s a mistake just to ignore them. We have to stand up to evil now, and we have to do so in a way that’s creative and focused and non-violent.”

This is so true and one of the reasons why I’m writing these series of posts, because it must be addressed. Far too often the church has spoken timid or is virtually silent on issues it needs to speak aggressively upon. As I’ve previously mentioned, I can only speak for the Christian church, but can assume that others can relate to what I’m saying. Many Christians are content with sitting and waiting for Jesus to return, while doing nothing in terms of the gospel.

Many people are simply more content with life as it is instead of how it can, should and will be. The truth is that many Christians, yes Black and White, Republican and Democrats hide behind the Cross and seek cover for our bigotry in scriptures instead of doing what we are called to do and be. Many will get upset when someone points out what it is that they are doing as if the intentions are to condemn. Condemnation is what you may want to do, but is not the point of my criticism of some Christians. Perhaps we should start calling them Play-Doh Christians, because they have conformed to what’s popular or satisfies their selfish, bigoted and prejudice means.

As long as fear is tolerated, faith in contaminated. The fear that is supported by this one church in Topeka, Kansas is only one location of hundreds if not even more of the prevailing opinion that has been conditioned into the church. If no one is willing to counter the built in bias, bigotry and intolerance that has found comfort with many Christians, then why call yourself a church or Christian.

References & Inspirations
The Jewish Daily Forward – 10/06/09 “How To Handle Hate
San Diego News Network – 10/06/09 “Westboro Baptist Chruch plans San Diego Protests at 29 Locations
Professor James C. Klagge  “The Most Segregated Hour in America


The Gopsel of Hate

Just when you begin to gain hope that race, politics and religion can some how find reconciliation as illustrated in my previous post you have someone who will always work to keep things how they are, divided. If you pay attention you will see someone who will exemplify this truthfulness of this fact.

What’s the image you initially see in your head when you hear of someone speaking death for President Obama? I don’t even have to say it, but what if I said that it was a minister who was saying it, what’s your view of that person in your head now?

As a Christian and a son, great-grandson, great-nephew and cousin of ministers who were bold in their ministries and teaching the word of God. It has been my experience that much of the problems within the Christian church is not exclusively caused by the non-Christians, but primarily by Christians themselves. People, who proclaim to be representative of Christ, but act more as a liaison for an Anti-Christ.

You would assume that a Christian minister would at least abide by the Greatest Commandment; Love. But I guess that’s too much to ask for someone people, even the pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona. This Southern Baptist minister delivered a message of why he hates Barack Obama.

OK, you can dislike the president for whatever your reasons may be. You hate Democrats, fine. You hate Black Democrats if that makes you feel better, cool. Oh, that’s right it’s not about race, but politics. That’s right. Hate whomever you please, but think about what you’re doing when you do that and more importantly what your actions are suggesting.

Wouldn’t it have been be easier to just say, “That _______ scares me”. Seriously, if just for the sake of honesty, because that’s what we’re seeing. Scared people, but what are you really afraid of? I bet you can’t be truthful about it, because the truth will reveal something ugly within your soul that you do not know how to properly deal with, so you revert to what’s comfortable, hate, fear and anger.

You can say whatever you want to say about me, you know this is the unspoken issue; hate.

Now this is not just some right-wing nut case to add to the collection, but a supposed minister of the gospel. I’m just waiting for him to say God Damn America next, but I forgot that level of condemnation only applies for certain people. This is a so-called minister of the gospel. I wonder what his positions are on racism, but I don’t want to make him feel any more uncomfortable than he already is.

But it’s only fair for Pastor Steve Anderson to speak for himself.

Remember what was said at the beginning of this as you read and view this and observe any responses. Look at their heart.

Finally, I ask ministers who say they live by the words of God to speak out against this sort of lawlessness within the Christian church today. This is not some isolated incident, because you have seen it within your own church.

Rhetorically speaking, does the church have to revisit a Birmingham Jail again to get the point? I strongly disagreed with the previous administration, but I never wished for their death or remain silent when I heard of others who did. This challenge is for you.

References & Inspirations
Christian Broadcasting Network – 08/31/09 “A Hateful Sermon Against President Obama
The Moderate Voice – 08/31/09 “Arizona Pastor Repeats Wish for Barack Obama’s Death
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – “Why We Can’t Wait”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – 11/04/1956 “Paul’s Letter to the Christian Church

Do Something Before It’s Too Late

One of the most scariest images is an ideologically confused, unsocialized person with a gun in one hand and the Bible and Constitution in the other. What is more scary are the people who enables them.

For weeks I’ve been writing about race, rage, religion and the right. Some has attributed all of this to one bloggers obsession with race and republicans. And your assumption would be wrong. Many people who are silent on these issues are so because they either sees the truth in what has been illustrated and/or they’re simply uncomfortable speaking with authority about any of these subjects.

As I’ve illustrated last week is that it’s not always about race, it’s not always republicans, but it is about race and the role republicans are playing in the rage against this President. Many choose not to accept the reality of that truth, but what other logical conclusion can you draw if it isn’t about race? Politics is just the proxy, not the problem.

I give up on the realistic relevance of the Republican Party these days. It doesn’t want anyone who will question its authority. It doesn’t want anyone who will demand discussion. It doesn’t want anyone who is progressive, moderate, Black, Latino, Muslim, Young or even female. If you’re White, Male and Southern you’re welcomed. As a southerner I know that’s not a fair assessment, but many polls are trending in that direction when it comes to the GOP. It’s trending higher to those groups. The Democratic Party is not infallible, but at least I’m welcomed.

The fringes of society, whether it is the Birthers, the Deathers, the outrageous 2nd Amendment folks and the Racists they are not ruining the GOP, they have ruined the GOP. Who’s talking about bringing guns, Hitler, Nazis and the socialists. It’s not all Republicans, but it is a Republican problem and an American issue.

I’m surprised about the silence of those Republicans who has previous criticized me on various issues. What is worse is the timid tendencies of Democrats confronting them. It’s not all Republicans, it’s not all Democrats, but when will we finally have a Conservative who will talk down the paranoia of Republicans to Republicans? When will we finally have Democrats speak critically towards the timidness of the Democrats to Democrats?

I have restrained myself from saying this for many months, but I simply give up any possibility of having a reasonable conversation with most Republicans on many of these issues. I will continue to push Democrats to speak up, but their time is coming too if they don’t start doing what needs to be done.

Comment, criticize if you please. I give up. Let the M.F. Burn. (Reference to a previous post)

If what happened in November of 1963, February of 1965 or April of 1968 happens in today I will be sad, but I would feel sorry for those who helped caused it, because the blood would be on their hands. The outrage of the right could not match the rage that would come from the left and in the unexpected corners of society. I don’t want any of this to happen and urge people to do something more than nod in agreement or disagreement, do something before something happens. Before it’s too late.