Full disclosure: I’m a Bible-believing, Jesus-following, born-again Christian. And so, first, it should be made clear that aside from the insipid, camera-chasing nature of the Quran-burning act in Gainesville, the activity of this pastor and his followers is hardly in line with the teachings of Christ.
Those teachings include such bedrock principles as Jesus saying in Matthew: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Not easy for sure, but it is a standard we Christians are called to strive for — representing Christ, not inflaming unbelievers against Christ.
Yes, there is an obvious double-standard between Christianity and other religions that stems from a certain anti-Christian bigotry. But, in truth, there should be a double standard for Christianity and for this country. Because to be just bluntly politically incorrect, our country and our culture are superior to most of the rest of the world and certainly to those corners that want to destroy us.
I realize every worshipper of multiculturalism just choked on his breakfast granola, but it is not hard to demonstrate.
The market shows it. People by the millions will try anything to get in and be a part of the American dream, even if it is illegal. We’re not seeing much of that anywhere else in the world.
Here’s another, about as obvious: our rules of engagement in warfare. We avoid civilian casualties and mourn over an enemy’s killed child. Our enemies send their own children as suicide bombers to kill our children and maximize civilian casualties.
So a question for our society: Is it so difficult to admit that the culture producing the minimizing of killing women and children is a superior culture to the culture that produces an acceptance and support of those who strap bombs on their own children to kill other kids?
The answer seems self-evident, like truths we hold that few others have enshrined.
Now to the pastor. Aside from numerous biblical injunctions that would preclude such an act, there are Christian missionaries in those countries risking their lives to spread the Gospel. But now we have Afghans and others burning the American flag (by definition, not news for many Muslim countries) and chanting “death to Christians.”
Yup, there is the double standard, where everyone is mad at a podunk pastor, but death threats by angry mobs of Muslims against Christians is to be tolerated. Maybe I’m just not multicultural enough to get it.
Here’s the question for the pastor and his followers: Your actions are probably putting the lives of Christian missionaries in danger and undermining the spread of Christianity. Does burning a Quran on 9/11 seem like a good trade-off for that?
The act received enormous publicity around the globe. But should it have? It’s difficult to see why.
So a final question to the media in general: Why is the pastor of a microscopically small church with 50 people, about as unrepresentative of American Christianity as you can get, able to dominate news coverage for a week? Sure, there is a salacious element. But seriously, making him into a world-wide celebrity?
Where is the responsibility of the media with 24/7 coverage of someone who essentially is no one in the public realm.
The pastor has plenty to answer for with this act. But so do does the media and even our easily confused culture.
+ Watch the opposition
There is a move to change the city of Sarasota’s spring elections to the regular November elections with everyone else. The move would save the city about $130,000 — maybe a couple of police officers — because the city would not have to pay for its own election anymore.
There are good reasons to do this. It saves money and it boosts turnout while everyone is already paying attention to election issues. But it also dilutes special interests who can rally their people for low-turnout elections and dominate them.
This is exactly the strategy behind holding the school special tax that was just passed again in the spring. In a low-turnout spring election, the 5,000-member school employee union makes defeat of that tax all but impossible.
So, it was not too surprising to see that the Coalition of City Neighborhoods opposes changing the election. It likes it this way because it carries a lot more weight and its pool of volunteers are not spread among other campaigns.
Watch who opposes this move. It might be a tip off for who thinks they can sway elections if only a few people turn out.
Rod Thomson is executive editor of the Gulf Coast Business Review and can be reached at [email protected].