Religious Fundamentalists

I remember being in graduate school and hearing a professor say that there really wasn’t much difference between fundamentalist Christians in America and fundamentalist Muslims in the Middle East.  He made his remarks a few years before 9-11, though, so I wonder if he still feels the same today.

On one side of the equation, you have the 9-11 attackers who killed thousands, the shoe bomber, the underwear bomber, the guy who murdered the European cartoonist who drew inflammatory portrayals of the Prophet, and more.

On the other side of the equation, you have a guy, the Rev. Terry Jones, who threatens to burn some copies of the Koran then changes his mind.

I’ve never seriously considered the idea of setting books on fire myself.  But one thing I find interesting about all this, though, is that Rev. Jones was responding to the plan to build a mosque near Ground Zero.  There have been many editorials in America saying that no one should oppose the idea of a mosque being built there.  It’s about freedom of religion, they say.  For those who argue that such a plan is insensitive to the memory of the 9-11 victims, the response is that our basic American freedoms should trump such concerns.  Even President Obama has weighed in on the issue, first arguing that Muslims should be able to build wherever they want then saying such a sentiment was not necessarily related to the Ground Zero issue.

Interestingly, it doesn’t seem that those trumpeting the free religious expression of the Muslims involved here are as interested in defending Rev. Jones’ right to express his religious convictions.  These commentators are suddenly more concerned about feelings, but it is the feelings of Muslims that interest them.  The argument has been made by many, including the President, that burning Korans will help the terrorists recruit.

It occurs to me that given their ability to recruit for the 9-11 attacks, and in response to the subsequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, there might not be many actions Americans could take that would make them hate us any more than they already do.

Let me be clear, though, I am just attacking the logic of Rev. Jones’ critics, not their basic argument.  I think Rev. Jones should put away his gasoline and matches for good.  And I don’t think that a mosque should be built near Ground Zero.  Both sides have religious freedom in America, but a little religious sensitivity would be nice, too.  If more people would build bridges, it would be easier for them to carry the Truth where it needs to go.