An article today in the New York Times (among other papers) notes that two arrests were made in the nine cases of rural church burning in Alabama.
The college administrators where the suspects attended school felt horrible. Quoting the article: "I almost have a sense of grief about this and about Birmingham-Southern's association with it," said Martin Landry, a junior from Pell City, Ala. "The bottom line is that this is a great school. I'm still extremely proud of it, and I do think we have an obligation to help make this right."
Church members, however, angry at the suspects for setting fire to their sacred, holy places, formed up in large numbers in front of the University steps, marching to loud yelling, angrily calling for the two suspects to be brought forward to answer for their crimes. Several church members were seen throwing stones through the University windows while covering their faces with bandanas, and running from police. The church pastor denounced the suspects, calling them abominations before God, and demanded that the University hand them over, threatening that if the University refused, then his followers would have no choice but to declare a holy war and destroy the University chapel and clock tower.
Wait.... I'm sorry. That's not right. What was I thinking?
These are Christian churches in America, not Islamic mosques in Iraq. 9 churches burned.... nine! (The Christian Science Monitor notes that 200-300 cases of church arson occur each year - the vast majority go unsolved.) Not one rock thrown in anger that I've heard. Not one angry demand for justice that I've heard. Not one fatwa issued. No church pastors giving fiery speeches on the evils of University life and how it must be overcome with the help of Gaw-awd! Not even a photo of a wailing women wearing black, half-crumpled over in grief.
What's that? Oh, what WAS the response?
Offers of help.
After the arrests, the president of the college, David Pollick, promised to help rebuild the churches. "We have people contacting each of these churches right now," Dr. Pollick said on Thursday. "The important thing is to be helpful, not cumbersome."
Dr. Pollick said the effort would probably make use of student volunteers. "Or it may be that alumni want to do labor, to drive nails," he said. In order to receive donations, the college said that it had established the "Alabama Churches Rebuilding and Restoration Fund."
No, the fundamental cultural and religious differences between Christianity and Islam - between The West, and The Middle East - cannot be stated or observed any clearer than how we react to indignity and affliction.
Christianity teaches grace and mercy in the face of adversity. If someone forces you to walk a mile, walk another mile freely. If someone strikes you on the cheek, turn the other as well. If someone takes from you your cloak, give him your shirt as well. Do kind to those that hate you. Pray for those that persecute you.
Islam teaches retribution and revenge. If someone denigrates Mohammed (by drawing a picture of him, no less), then riot and kill people (some 40 people have died due to rioting and violence directly related to the protests over the European editorial cartoons). If someone destroys a Mosque, then riot in the streets and plunge your country to the brink of civil war. Fight those that don't believe in Allah. Kill those that blaspheme the Prophet and his followers.
I'm fascinated by the apologists who say Islam is just misunderstood, and it's truly a peaceful religion, teaching love and understanding to all. It's only loving and understanding to those that strictly follow its teaching and tenants. If you do not, then you are infidel, and must be dealt with harshly, because Allah is Great and His will must be done. Opposition cannot be allowed.
People say Christians are just as bad with their "Turn or Burn" evangelism, or their "If you don't accept Christ, then you are destined to burn in Hell!"
The difference is most Christians won't try to convert you at the tip of a sword. They might annoy you and beg you, but if you don't want to accept Jesus, then you are free to go your way; the First Baptist Church generally won't run you out of town or kidnap and kill your family for being infidel and opposing the local Imam. The worst thing the Christians might lay on you is a guilt trip.
I could go on and on. Anyone have a comment, difference of opinion?