Now, Religion in the News—a report and comment on religious trends and events being covered by the media. This week’s item is from The Angus, February 24, 2003, with the headline: “Forum Organized by Scholars for Appreciation of Religious Differences, dateline, Freemont, California—Scholars on Christianity, Judaism, and Islam gave their thoughts during a Sunday forum organized by World Alliance for Humanity, a Freemont group that works to promote diversity and appreciation of differences.
“In the Jewish faith, followers must devote their lives to the concept of Shalom, or peace and fullness. In Christianity, God challenges his followers to become examples of kindness. And in Islam, followers must dedicate themselves to upholding justice and protecting the sanctity of life.
“The meaning of peace and justice depends on whom you ask. ‘One thing is clear—the themes of love, forgiveness, and caring are shared by all three faiths,’ said Moina Schenke, executive director of the alliance. ‘The commonalities between these faiths should be a point of unity, not a point of division,’ she said.
“The speakers, among other things, applied the concept of justice to the looming war with Iraq. ‘In Islam, no man can claim superiority to any other,’ said Khalid Sadiki, an Islamic professor and scholar. ‘Justice must be left to the will of Allah,’ he said. ‘Even a defensive war is not allowed,’ he said, referring to passages in the Qur’an. ‘Followers are commanded to commit themselves to justice even if it means harm to one’s self or one’s family,’ he said.
The Reverend Chris Shriner, head of Freemont’s Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Church, concluded the discussion by asking the 50 attendees to ‘confront our own personal destructive tendencies that may inhibit justice and peace.’”
Tom: Dave, when I looked at this—you know, we call them News Alerts here, Religion in the News—I looked at it and I thought, “Oh no, no, I’m not even going to bother with this, but then as I thought about it, this is classic, all right? Now first of all it begins by saying, “Scholars on Christianity, Judaism, and Islam gave their thoughts….” So these are thinking people. Now as we get into it, it talks about an appreciation of differences. That’s like saying—as you look at the differences in these religious groups, they are antithetical to each other. There’s clash, they are right against each other, but we can “appreciate” that.
Dave: Yeah, you can imagine an NFL linebacker, 300 pounds, slams into some guy and then starts pounding on him, and the referee blows the whistle, and he says, “You’re so intolerant! Don’t you appreciate differences? I have a different view of football than you have. I mean, come on, can’t we all be independent?” Appreciate differences? Tom, the differences are so great. For example, “the commonalities,” it says, between these faiths “should be a point of unity, not a point of division.” I don’t know where the commonalities are, truthfully. Allah is not the God of the Bible.
Tom: But wait a minute. I thought we were supposed to appreciate the differences. So now we are upholding the commonalities, which are nonexistent.
Tom: Well, I won’t say nonexistent, but you have to force some things here.
Tom: To submit…
Dave: In fact, maybe some listeners might remember, I don’t know, but when President Carter brought Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat together, Israel gave back the Sinai, which never did belong to Egypt anyway, but it was a gesture of good will—Carter, being a self-described Christian, wanted to quote a verse from the Bible and one from the Qur’an about peace. And his experts searched and searched and searched; they finally found one verse in the Qur’an, Surah 861. It says, “And if the enemy inclines to surrender, and they ask for peace, give it to them!” And the title of Surah 8, the whole chapter, is “Spoils of War.” And I think it’s verse 65 that says, “Gather the people for war.” And I think it may be verse 67 that says, “The prophet should not make peace until he has made slaughter in the land.” You know, I mean, this whole chapter is about slaughter, about war, about conquering, but finally, when an enemy surrenders, well, give it to them.”
And then, Tom, you know what kind of peace you get—you’re a Dimhi, you’re a fourth-class citizen, heavily taxed and brutalized and so forth. Come on, why don’t we face the facts? Tom, you’ve managed to bring up stuff that gets me a little bit angry.
Tom: Dave, we hear so much of this I figured that you would just ho-hum it.
Dave: And what do they say about Jesus? Islam says Jesus is not God, He didn’t die for our sins on the cross—He didn’t even die! Somebody died in His place instead of Jesus dying in our place.
We’ve been over this before. Tom, this is politically correct language. They are unwilling to face the facts. Islam says even a defensive war is not allowed? What! From France to China, they slaughtered millions. Will Durant, one of the world’s leading historians, said the slaughter in India was the bloodiest story in history, and it amounted even to more than Hitler slaughtered! Come on! And that’s just India. But, of course, Islam is peace, and what they were doing, they were defending peace all over the world.
Tom, these are people who have no convictions. Anything goes—believe whatever you want. Unitarian Universalist Church—by the way, we offer a tape with a debate I did with a Unitarian Universalist, and anyone interested, could we give that to them free?
Tom: Gary will give us some information on how they could see this.
Dave: Why don’t we give it to anyone who will write in? It’s an audiotape of a debate I did with a Unitarian Universalist pastor.
Tom: Dave, briefly, explain to our listeners what a Unitarian Univeralist believes.
Dave: Well, Unitarian—they don’t believe in the Trinity. God is one single entity.
Tom: So we are getting some diversity here, aren’t we?
Dave: Right, and Universalist—everybody will eventually be saved.
Tom: Dave, whatever will be will be—that’s their mentality. Everybody ends up in the same place, doesn’t make any difference what you believe. Yeah, let’s have diversity, but the unity is we are all going to end up in the same place. So let’s watch how we get there nevertheless.
Dave: Okay Tom. I find this incomprehensible that anyone, as you started out, gave their thoughts—that thinking people could actually come up with this sort of nonsense, really—that’s what it is.