Saturday, September 13, 2003

I just had to re-produce this letter from Ball State Daily News:

For the second year in a row, the Rev. Marc Monte of Faith Baptist Church in Avon used his pulpit to address the "evils" of Islam on the Sunday before Sept. 11.

In an interview with the Indianapolis Star, Monte called Islam "dangerous and hate-promoting." He compared the Quran to KKK literature and Hitler's "Mein Kampf," adding, "I ... smelled a stinking, bloated, dead rat on every page."

It seems that, on the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 tragedy, we still don't understand that Islam isn't the enemy -- religious extremism is.

Islam doesn't promote hate or violence; the very word means "submission." Religious extremism promotes both, but members of other faiths have also been known to wrap their political goals in such fanaticism.

Just ask an Irishman about the IRA and the Ulster Volunteers during the Troubles.

Christianity hardly has a clean record -- countless people have been killed in its name. Jesus was pretty hard on hypocrites, so it's strange that some who claim to follow him feel safe condemning another faith on the grounds of violence.

Arrogant attacks on mainstream Islam only make it easier for extremist groups like al-Qaida to recruit new members, and by using religion to promote hatred, Monte has lowered himself to the level of Osama bin Laden. He is as far removed from most Christians as the Sept. 11 hijackers are from most Muslims.

The Quran itself says that Allah does not love those who exceed the limits in fighting (2.190) and that there should be no hostility except against oppressors (2.193).

So what did Monte see that scared him so much?

Perhaps it was this: "When you march up to attack a city, first offer it terms of peace. If it agrees to your terms of peace and opens its gates to you, all the people to be found in it shall serve you in forced labor. But if it refuses to make peace with you and instead offers you battle ... put every male in it to the sword."

No, wait, that couldn't be it. That's from the Bible (Deuteronomy 20:10-13).

Guess you can catch a whiff of "rat" in any religious text if you try hard enough.

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