Regarding the emails I receive, I am curious about what request is being made of me by these authors. Do the authors want the followers of Jesus to treat Muslims as they fear Muslims are going to treat them? If the definition of infidel is anyone who does not believe as I do, should all others be denied their basic human rights, or maybe just denied their democratic rights to vote, or to run for office? Is this what the U.S. version of democracy is all about?
As I consider even the small request that is being made of me to pass the authors' emails on to others, I do not feel an alignment with my personal sense of Christian values. I do not see Jesus as spreading fear of those who were different from him. What I see is a man who views all people as loved children of God, and one who trusts that love is more powerful than any of the things that seem to divide us.
As I have tried to understand better the text in the Koran where the idea of "killing the infidel" comes from, I have wondered if the context is similar to those texts in the Jewish/Christian Scripture when God commands death to those who blaspheme or curse the name of the Lord (Lev 24:16). God in the Bible also commands death to those who work on Sundays (Ex 35:2). How are these to be read and interpreted? Are Charleston believers expected to follow these "commands?" If a Muslim friend were to ask me about these, wondering if these are representative of current Christian believes and practices, what would I say, how would I explain?
These are challenging passages indeed!
I have a vision of a different future. I wonder what would happen if each of us engaged our brothers and sisters in a dialog about what we believe and how we interpret some of the difficult passages of our own traditions. Maybe that dialog could become an email conversation that could include how we have now come be one nation of people practicing our differing faiths under the canopy of liberty and justice for all.
Now that would be an email worth sending around!
Kershner, of Charleston, is director of the Kanawha Pastoral Counseling Center.