Let Love defang hate

There’s an old saying, “Lord, let my words be sweet today, because tomorrow I may have to eat them.” This is good advice, especially in the age of the Internet, where one’s words can travel almost as fast as thought. And those words can stir dramatic, and sometimes dangerous, actions.

When Terry Jones, pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida, organized a Quran burning in March, the result was a violent chain reaction. After four days of protests in Afghanistan, at least 22 people died, including seven United Nations workers (“Terry Jones: How his Quran burning helps the Taliban,” The Christian Science Monitor, April 4, 2011). And Afghanistan wasn’t the only country to be affected by his actions.

Nor is Jones alone, in his views of Islam. Fear and hatred of Muslims have been growing in the United States and Europe, fed by Internet rumors and an inability to separate political acts from religious beliefs. Similarly, fear and hatred of Christians among Muslims, especially those in the Middle East, have been fanned by those wishing to make political hay out of it. When Russian president Vladimir Putin referred to the Western intervention in Libya as “crusade,” others picked up the term, appealing to some Muslims’ still unhealed hatreds and fears of predatory Christians, determined to destroy Islam and its followers.

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May 9, 2011

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