Wednesday, July 10, 2002

FOUL! I'm a big fan of Best of the Web, but I was annoyed by this headline -- "Another Religion of Peace" -- for the blurb in today's edition about the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod's suspension of the Rev. David Benke for participating in the post-September 11 interfaith service in Yankee Stadium. The headline, "Another Religion of Peace," alludes to a recurring Best of the Web feature, "A Religion of Peace," which catalogs the many cruel and uncivilized acts committed by Islamic radicals in the name of Islam. The implication of this feature isn't that Islam theoretically must be a violent religion, just that as practiced by many, many Muslims, it often is in practice a violent religion. Anyway, Best of the Web's analogy, between a church disciplining -- in a non-violent fashion, in accordance with its internal law -- one of its ministers for participating in a religious service with non-church members in violation of church law, and Islamists who commit acts of violence and barbarism against infidels for being infidels, is tasteless at best. Look, James Taranto and lots of people may not understand it, but some people who call themselves monotheists really believe there's only one God, and Buddha, Allah, and Gaia ain't Him. And members of some Christian denominations -- apparently including those of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod -- really believe their church is the only legitimate, Christ's-body-on-earth, small-cee catholic church. And because they really hold these beliefs, they cannot in good conscience worship and pray with those they consider non-believers. And when their ministers -- the people in charge of teaching the church's doctrines -- violate those doctrines, they must in good conscience discipline the violators. You can call this "intolerant," "old-fashioned," "uncompassionate," "mean-spirited," or a host of other silly words, but you cannot say the peaceful adherence to deeply held religious belief -- even when it hurts other people's feelings -- is anything like killing people for being "infidels." Now, when these monotheistic, anti-denominational Lutherans start killing people who don't accept their beliefs, James Taranto can crack wise about them practicing "another religion of peace." But until they start rapin' and pillagin' the rest of us in the name of the Cross, it's just obnoxious to compare them to Islamist radicals.

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