Purge in Punjab
Salman Taseer, Governor of Punjab, was assassinated by one of his guards for speaking out against the death penalty for a Christian woman who allegedly blasphemed Mohammed. Some Moslem clerics have applauded this assassination. Aasia Bibi, the woman sentenced to death, had allegedly been in dispute with Muslim women labourers who objected to sharing a bowl of water with her, and it is alleged that personal scores are being settled. Hers was the only Christian family in the village. A radical cleric has promised a bounty to anyone who carries out the verdict.
Religious extremism hurts us all. What can we do?
Jesus criticized his co-religionists when he disagreed with them, but only to their face and never violently. He dealt surprisingly gently with those of a different religion, for example the Roman centurion, the Syro-Phoenician woman, and the Samaritan woman he met at Jacob’s well. The Samaritan woman gave him an opportunity for criticism of the Samaritan religion when she challenged him regarding the proper place for worship. Jesus, against her expectations, did not say that God could not be worshipped on Mt Gerizim. Nor, to her surprise, did he claim that Jerusalem was the correct place for the worship of God. He did say that God is Spirit, and should be worshipped in Spirit and in Truth – and not necessarily in either Jerusalem or Mt Gerizim.
What did Jesus mean by “in Spirit and in Truth?”
Jesus taught that God is love. This is the bottom line, the truth. He also taught that the only way we can experience that divine love is by loving our neighbour – even when that neighbour is our enemy. We can only begin to do this when we allow the divine spirit which is seeded within each of us to grow and flourish so that we become aware of what is truth about other people and what is prejudice.
Part of our truth is that Islam has its roots in both Christianity and Judaism. Christianity, too, has its roots in Judaism. Islam, Christianity and Judaism are sibling religions all worshipping the one God, albeit in quite different ways.When we disagree with others and seek to express what we believe we must do so in love and in such a way that we do not stir up antipathy. Whenever possible, we must affirm what is good about our sibling faiths. Christians, with a little exploration, can find much that is good in both Christianity and Judaism. Affirmation of what is good in others does not mean that we lack integrity of belief ourselves. Rather it means that we are following Jesus as peacemakers and evangelists.