Unidirectional Interfaith Statements
It’s often subtle — and I certainly don’t mean to discourage interaction between leaders of different religions — but it does seem as if the statements of unity all follow a, well, a non-objective narrative. After an apparently religiously inspired multiple murder, an act of terrorism, to be blunt, this was the message of the an interfaith press conference in Rhode Island:
The meeting came as a quick response to the shootings at Fort Hood, which authorities have attributed to Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, 39, a Muslim psychiatrist on the Texas base.
The Rev. Dr. Donald C. Anderson, executive minister of the Rhode Island State Council of Churches, said that the reason for this meeting was to stop placing blame on the entire Muslim community.
“It was our concern to step forward in a proactive way and make a statement about our unity together as people of faith and just let the Islamic community know that they are not standing alone,” said Rev. Anderson. “It is our prayer that in response to this tragedy we will increase our efforts to live together in peace and understanding.”
“Any reasonable conscious person,” Imam Farid Ansari assured the media, “would know that these type of unconscionable acts was not something that has anything to do whatsoever with the religion of Islam.”
Not quite a year later, a small-time Christian minister in Florida threatens to burn a Koran, and here’s the message from the same folks in Rhode Island:
The Rev. Donald C. Anderson, executive minister of the Rhode Island State Council of Churches, said that even if the Rev. Terry Jones has cancelled the book burning, apparently on the understanding that proponents of a planned Islamic Center in New York will move the proposed facility farther away from ground zero, Mr. Anderson strongly believes that Rhode Island’s religious leaders should proceed with an anti-bigotry news conference Friday.
“While I would celebrate [the cancellation] news, it does not sound to me that he’s repented. To have even intended to burn the sacred book of another religion is wrong-headed,” Mr. Anderson said.
Imam Ansari took the proverbial podium to opine that the First Amendment doesn’t cover the burning of a Koran, because “you can’t cry ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.” The person burning the book, in other words, would be sparking an almost involuntary backlash from Muslims and would therefore be responsible for “endangering many lives.”
“As Muslims, we would never dare think of burning the Bible. That would be unconscionable. It would be tantamount to burning Jesus Christ in effigy,” he said, adding that the anti-Christian laws found in such places as Saudi Arabia are a “cultural thing” and have nothing to do with true Islam.
(One wonders whether Ansari accepts any financial or other support from within that culture.)
Why is it that acts of violence done in Islam’s name require warnings against infidel backlash, while an act of offensive self-promotion threatened by a Christian requires unified condemnation? Perhaps the reportage omitted the statement, but I don’t see any mention of warnings to those who’ve made it prudent for said Christian to carry a gun.
When Muslims are the perpetrators, the statement is, “We condemn, in advance, any backlash, and of course, when Muslims behave badly, it has nothing to do with Islam.” When Christians are the prospective perpetrators, the statement is, “We condemn, in advance, this act and feel it must be made explicit that it is not a legitimate expression of our faith; any backlash would be understandable, and of course, when Muslims behave badly, it has nothing to do with Islam.”