Virtual Voices

On not banishing the dark with a book burning

Religion

There are plenty of good reasons not to burn a Quran, but I'm not hearing them in the international uproar over a Pentecostal preacher's call for a "Burn the Quran Day." Many people are afraid that the brouhaha will incite hardcore Muslims to react in brutal violence, as if this is distinguishable from what we normally see, as if ordinarily it's Methodists beheading people and blowing up school buses and executing missionaries. Whatever one's point of view about civility and respect for other religions, I'm a little tired of tiptoeing around the sensitive feelings of delusional thugs who want to burn down Western civilization in service to a bloodthirsty cult.

In addition to fear of Muslim brutality is the belief, by many well-meaning Christians, that the faith of Muslims should be respected, that we should have an inclusive approach to faith in God, even as we disagree on the particulars. It's a fine line, engaging someone without affirming some deeply wrong conviction that he holds. But my sense is that too many Christians advocating interfaith dialogue are keen on any civil discussion that does not involve the very heart of the matter, the irreconcilable difference, which is that one does not reach the doorway to Heaven, which is to say Jesus Christ, by way of whatever cobbled-together directions have been attributed to Muhammad.

I think a Christian ought not burn a Quran, not because it will incite violence, not because it will disrupt communion with infidels, and not even because doing so adds the waste of a match to what is already a waste of paper. The Christian ought not burn a Quran, it seems to me, simply because destruction and negation are the purview of the devil, not God. The kingdom of Heaven is not advanced by destroying the false but by embracing the true. Darkness is never erased; it is enlightened.

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In contrast, the current turmoil serves the interests of all the wrong people. A publicity-seeker gets national attention. People already harboring hatred for Christianity and America get a fresh dose of righteous indignation. Journalists get a juicy story replete with eye-rolling at the rubes who call themselves Christians. The devil could hardly have cooked up something better.

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