I’m sickened when I hear that a person’s religion makes him unwilling to let other human beings live in dignity and peace. I’m disgusted when people make it sound like God plays favorites – loving their own kind and hating others. I’m repulsed when I hear people using God to justify holding children responsible for the supposed wrongs of their ancestors – as if God were for grudge-holding and revenge instead of forgiveness, repentance, and reconciliation. Bigotry is ugly and ignorant to begin with – but when its justified by referring to God, it’s even more horribly reprehensible.
As a committed Christian, I’m also sickened when I hear Christian Zionists use strangely similar logic to push the plight of the Palestinian people off the table, as if God plays favorites and wants his favorites to have a safe land to live in, but when it comes to Palestinians, well, tough luck for them. The ancient Jewish prophets themselves said – and Jesus and the Qur’an agree – that we must love our neighbors as ourselves, and do to others as we would have them do to us.
The kind of God who calls us to mutual care, to mutual respect, to seek justice and the common good … that’s the kind of God worthy of our belief and worship. But the kind of God who calls us to mutual destruction, to mutual fear and prejudice, to seek revenge and the harm of others … that vision of God deserves to be repudiated by sincere people of good faith. Perhaps a time is coming when Jews, Christians, and Muslims will together stand up and speak with one voice about the line between good and evil that runs, not between, but through our respective religions. Then we will see that we all have some truth, beauty, and goodness … and we all have a lot of the opposite. That means that none of us can stand as superior before God, for we all need God’s grace and mercy. That humble acknowledgment, I believe, is the common ground God is calling us all toward … beginning with me, and I hope you too.