Saturday, September 11, 2010

Burning Jesus: Religion in the Shadow of American Society

Mayhill Fowler, The Huffington Post, Sep 10, 2010

A combination of ignorance and righteousness is just as much a danger to American society as the corruption of power in business and government. But for the last half century it is only the latter that has garnered the attention of investigative journalism, in both legacy and new media. The inexorable consequences for this eschewing, this recoiling, this turning away from laying down the historical record of American spiritual life has been playing out over the summer and into the fall of 2010, in the uproar over the Islamic Center near Ground Zero and in the intention of the pastor of a nondenominational church to burn copies of the Quran on the ninth anniversary of 9/11. The book burning has been averted (hopefully) only now, long past the point when a tiny congregation, through the combustion of ignorance and righteousness, has roiled the world.

Media has inundated us with stories about the proposed book burning, but always within legal and political frameworks: the constitutional protections for both freedom of speech and freedom of religious practice; the uproar in the Muslim world; the fallout for our troops and other Americans abroad. The heart of the matter, however, is religious belief: what the pastor and many other Americans of all persuasions think about the Bible and the Quran. Significantly, it has taken a dialogue between religious leaders, the pastor and Imam Feisal of the proposed New York Islamic Center, to defuse the situation. Why did the media, with all its coverage, fail to do the same thing first? What happened to the powerful effect of shining the light of knowledge?

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