by Joan Chittister, OSB
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace
Here’s the problem with religion. You never know which religion you’re going to meet: the “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” kind or the “Get thee behind me, Satan” kind.
You have to be very careful not to confuse one with the other. Your very life could depend on it.
The golden-rule types take people into the center of the community; the get-out-of-my-sight kind keep people out of it. One kind of religion embraces those who are different from themselves; the other excludes those who are different, the ones who are not like them: blacks if they’re white; Jews if they’re Christian; women if they’re men.
Some people have lived restricted lives and even died at the hands of those who sought to restrict them — some for trying to eat at white lunch counters or sitting down on buses; some for having ancestors in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago; some for serving soup that was cold or not ironing the shirts right.
The important thing to remember is that it doesn’t really matter how the transgressions were defined. What matters is that the arguments in defense of doing it were always the same: God didn’t want mixed races, or God wanted women to obey men, or God wanted Jews punished because the Romans crucified Jesus. Go figure…
One thought on “REFLECTION: New ‘religious’ group just as deadly as the ones that preceded it”
While people from the outside often try to blame the Christian (or Islamic) religion for the vile acts of those who claim to be religious, in reality the reasons for hateful behavior are nearly very different from what is proclaimed.
A Christian man who hits his wife doesn’t do so because his faith told him so. He is most likely somebody who is frustrated either because he is unemployed or he works at a job where he is being demeaned and humiliated by superiors or customers and now he lets his frustration and anger out on his wife and children.
Many of those white people who are opposed to “race-mixing” are those who are themselves called and treated as “trash” by other white people. Seeing themselves above black people is a psychological compensation. Then there are the middle and upper class racists who are eugenicists. Their motives aren’t Christian in any way at all, they might be atheistic Darwinist or they might be esoteric superiority driven.
As for anti-Jewish persecution, throughout history you will find that while often religious motives were pretended the real motives behind most incidences were political or economical.
The same is most often true for anti-Christian persecution in Islamic countries and anti-Muslim discrimination in western countries.
As Christians we must do everything to prevent any form of hate-mongering among ourselves. But in order to become truly peace-makers we also must have a clear view on reality and not deceive ourselves.
Christ didn’t teach us to hate those with another color of skin, another gender or another religion, its the sins of pride, anger and greed in ourselves which did this.
There is a great deal to say for as a Christian turning the other cheek and taking out the plank of one´s own eye, before taking care of one’s neighbor’s splinter, but as an educated upper middle class person one should take a good look into the mirror to find out where one’s own eye is located. And then after taking out that plank one should take a closer look at it and see it’s political and economic form.