September 8, 2010 - a note sent to the friends and members of Covenant Presbyterian Church, Los Angeles
The proposed burning of a Quran by a small far-right evangelical church in Gainesville, Florida saddens me beyond words.
I have emailed the church asking them to consider how this will affect our soldiers in Afghanistan - there's no doubt that radical Muslims will see these radical "Christians" as representative of Christianity in America, even as we tend to see radical Muslims as representative of Islam.
Anyway, this is a reminder of what I have long called Christianity's underbelly.
Most of us rarely, if ever, encounter it, and chances are that anyone on this mailing is unlikely to meet it, except in these rare moments when bizarre antics and seething hatred reach the news. Though just a small group in Gainesville, I'm grateful for the news coverage, because there's a lot of this twisted christianity in the backwoods and suburbs of America, and it needs to be brought to the light of day.
There really isn't much we can do - though Gainesville police have denied the church a burning permit. We live in free land, but a "church" like this needs to be reminded that freedom isn't license, that freedom requires responsibility.
But with the breaking news of a hate crime in Thousand Oaks - Swastikas and hate messages ... we need to be clear - there's a lot of hatred out there, and some of it is found within the ranks of American Christianity.
The only antidote to such distortions of the faith is, first, our alertness to such things, then a solid knowledge of Christian history with a good and careful reading of Scripture.
In Christ, for Christ and with Christ,
Merciful God, I pray thee to grant me, if it please thee, ardor to desire thee, diligence to seek thee, wisdom to know thee and skill to speak to the glory of thy name. Amen (Thomas Aquinas)