Religious Freedom for All, or Just a Few?

This seems to be the issue at stake in the religious bigotry movement that has arisen in this country in the past few years.  Are we a Christian nation?  Not according to our history; not according to our Constitution.  Our Nation was founded in freedoms which apply to all its citizens.  When it comes to religion we are welcome to disagree with each other; however, that doesn’t translate into “my freedom of religion is better than yours…”

In the Bible Jesus is confronted with the question:  Who is my neighbor?  He responds with the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-27).  What some people tend to ignore is that Jesus uses the example of the Samaritan because in his time there was no such thing as a “good” Samaritan.  Samaritans were considered the worst people.  However, in the parable, he is the only good neighbor; those who claimed to be people of faith passed by the one in need without even considering the possibility of rendering assistance.   Are Muslims our neighbors?  According to the parable, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!”  And what does the Bible say we should do with our neighbors?  Luke, Chapter 10 also answers the question: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself (27).”

By deciding to bless the Qu’ran  Rev. Paul Tellstrom and his congregation in Irvine have taken a courageous stand (see article here).  I wonder what people would do if, instead of the Qu’ran, people would’ve decided to burn the Bible.  I served as a chaplain in the military for 21 years to guarantee the exercise of religion of ALL our citizens, not just a selected few.  I participated in combat operations and risked my life in order for Muslims and the rest of us to be able to practice whichever religion we choose, freely! That’s what makes this country a great country!


About pastorfelix

Conference Minister, United Church of Christ, Southern California Nevada Conference
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