Who is The Enemy?

There was an article in the Indy Star a little while back, about a Baptist pastor from the Westside who is protesting the installation of sinks at the Indianapolis airport intended for Muslim cab drivers to be able to wash their feet in preparation for their ritual prayers. If the reasoning for removing these was something akin to not displaying the Ten Commandments on the lawn of courthouses or nativity scenes on public property, I'd understand- fair is fair. But it's not.
[Rev. Jerry] Hillenburg, who plans to preach a sermon Sunday titled "Stop Caving in to Islam," sent a letter to the mayor seeking a face-to-face meeting to discuss his concerns.
In a press release, Hillenburg said he opposes the use of taxpayer funds for the support of a single religion.
"We also oppose the fraternization with our open enemies during a time of war," he stated in a news release.
Two problems I have with the last statement:
- The US is not at war with Islam.
- Everyone who is middle-eastern is not 'the enemy'.

Sigh. Years into this war, why has this not gotten through to people?

Islam is not the problem. Muslims are people with stories and passions and beliefs- that differ from mine, perhaps- but, people, loved by God. When I hear about 'those Muslims' that are blowing things up in Iraq, I think, 'No, those terrorists and insurgents are the ones that are blowing things up.', not the Indianapolis taxi drivers just trying to get by. They are certainly not 'the enemy'. Using taxpayer funds to make special allowances for a certain religious tradition is an entirely separate debate, but in no way should be construed as 'open fraternization with the enemy'.

Anyone remember who were the major terrorists in the US, before 9/11? White American men named Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph. Were White American Men 'the enemy' back then? No, the terrorists were.

My youth pastor in high school was Assyrian- and definitely middle-eastern looking. He is a youth pastor that gets stopped at airport security checkpoints every time he travels. Just last Wednesday, I overheard a church member ask him out of the blue, "Are you involved in ministry to Muslims?" Because he looks to be middle-eastern, he must be a converted Muslim. Of course. In fact, he's from Wheaton, IL. Sigh.

I was excited to hear that Taylor has started a World Religions Week. Perhaps the next generation of church leaders will be less ignorant and close-minded about world religions, and world events in general. We must be able to engage in intelligent discourse with those outside the church for them to see us as worth listening to. Whether it is a splinter or a plank, if it's in our eye, wood blinds us from loving others. This pastor seems to be blinded by unforgiveness. Calling our innocent neighbors 'enemies' is not the best first step in loving them toward a relationship with Jesus.


Scrawny Mommy said...

I'm interested that you use the term "Assyrian" (or that your friend does) instead of Iranian. Perhaps he isn't Iranian; I was just curious. I had a friend who did this -- his calling himself Assyrian was to help curb some of the backlash he felt when people learned he was from Iran.

Furthermore, it is interesting that you posted this during Ramadan. I am not a follower of Islam and do not adhere to its principles; however, I do respect the fact that this month, my Muslim students fast the entire day without complaint (not even drinking water). I wonder how my Christian faith would be impacted if I exhibited this type of self-discipline.

Jes said...

I understand your point about not calling them enemies. Not all of them are out to destroy America. I love other people and am amazed at their commitment to their religion. I can't even imagine how America would change if all the Christ followers decided to start praying 3 times a day at set times. Can you imagine the impact if our actions matched our words?! Fasting, praying, dressing modestly! Man would life be different if we had that kind of faith.
However, I do think it is odd that the government is protecting their religion while destroying Christianity. They have the right to take breaks and special rooms to go into to pray while at work and school, but Christians aren't even allowed to pray out loud.
Catholics don't have special holy water at airports, Christian's have to fight to be able to hold Bible studies in their schools, Why should religions from other countries be given special rights?
Just my two cents.

Rev. Don Spitz said...

There is only one way to be saved and that is through Jesus Christ. Your acceptance of pagan false religions will lead you into eternal hell fire. Jesus was very clear that He is the ONLY WAY to be saved from eternal hell fire.

Joanna said...

scrawny- I believe my youth pastor said his grandparents emigrated from Turkey actually. He does use the term 'Assyrian'.

As you (and Jes) point out, what would Christianity be like if we were as devout a follower of God as they are of theirs?

Jes- I agree with you on the point that there are legal reasons that the sinks perhaps shouldn't be there- but my point is, not for the reasons espoused by this pastor. The government's spin is, these Muslim taxi drivers wash their feet for prayers whether there is a foot-level sink or not. Without a foot level sink, water gets everywhere and makes the restroom a slippery hazard for everyone.

But I totally agree with you on the church-state issues this brings up. They are very valid, and the examples you gave are good ones to consider alongside this debate.

Rev Spitz- No where did I say that the Muslims were right in their beliefs. I believe Jesus calls us to love and respect others first, and when they see that love they will be drawn to a relationship with Him. It seems we have the same goal, but are going about it in very different ways.

Scrawny Mommy said...

Joanna -- exactly. I also believe that we do not need to adhere to someone's religion before we extend love and respect toward them. Like Rev. Don said, Jesus is the "ONLY WAY to be saved from eternal hellfire," but this is precisely why we need to show His love to Muslims, Mormons, and everyone in between. We are called to act as a Christ-like example to others. Period.

Matt B said...

We all can agree Jesus calls us to love our enemies. I took a religion class at DePauw that taught us about every religion but Christianity and it was taught by an agnostic. It was a fascinating peek in to the beliefs of the other major religions in the world from an unbiased viewpoint. While I do believe the Muslims are the unsaved, their beliefs, followed closely would never lead them to blow up buildings and people. Feet washing stations are not "caving to the enemy" but is showing love and compassion to a member of our society by providing a service that is obviously needed and benefits all that use these restrooms by keeping them cleaner.


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