Tim brought this to my attention today. John writes,
Osama Bin Laden was probably a good man; sincere, devout and God fearing. But all it takes to make good people do evil is religion. Keep that in mind. That is the lesson of his life. He was deluded in the same way as other believers. Some delusions cause more harm than others though, and he caused a great deal of it. The problem is he will never know he was deluded. Neither will any of the rest of them. What a waste of a life.
Debunking Christianity: Osama Bin Laden Was Probably a Good Man.
Today, in the post linking to Tim’s, Dr. Gayle left a comment quoting Frank Schaeffer,
“I agree with the New Atheists: It is time for religion to go — intolerant, politicized ugly religion as we know it, that is. I agree with religious people, too: Atheism has killed many more millions of people, specifically in the name of godless ideologies, than all religions combined ever killed in the name of God or any gods. Or put it this way: The atheist yells, ‘Crusades!’ The religious believer counters, ‘Stalin!’ The atheist says, ‘Faith in science!’ The believer answers, ‘Faith in God!’ We are stuck trading catchphrases like school children taunting each other on the playground, or is there a better way to discuss what boils down to just two issues: the quest for meaning in our lives and the search for an answer concerning the origin of everything?” –Frank Schaeffer, Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don’t Like Religion (or Atheism), page 7
I considered John’s viewpoints, and more than I would like to admit, I have considered them greatly over the past few years, but in the end, the evil, miscreant, and/or violent leaders under the guise of religion (I note that people don’t blame capitalism for the barbarous actions of a few capitalists, well, not like they do believers anyway) aren’t representatives of their belief systems. But, in this, and in a few other things, John is wrong.
To equate all believers with Osama Bin Laden (no matter in that calling him a ‘good man’, questions are raised about John’s lexicon) is simply ludicrous. I could mentioned John of the Cross, the monks, the nuns, Catherine of Siena, Francis of Assisi, Pope John Paull II, William Booth, John and Charles Wesley, and other notable figures from throughout Christian History (I am not familiar enough with Islamic of Jewish leaders to include them here, but they are not my concern.) who have lived selfless lives with harm only to the establishment, or with lives in service of their God, in love to one another, and in hope that they could peacefully make the world a more holistic place.
But, those names are ‘out there’. They are his and herstories. They are them.
When I think about the Christian figures which I would use against John’s assumption that religion and people who do religion are evil, I think about my fellow believers at Christ Church United Methodist Church. I think about the women of the United Methodist Women who organize various fund raisers to help the community feed and clothe the poorest amongst us. I think of those who are meek and seeking only their place in the world, but in their meekness, they too contribute to the community in a positive way. I am not going to mention any names, but some of the women in my Sunday School class could help John understand what ‘good’ is. Or our Deacon. Or our Senior Pastor. Or our Pastor of Parish life. Shauna has a heart to help out the disenfranchised, unassuming of their response to the Gospel or their contribution to the local church. In speaking with the Senior Pastor just the little that I have, I found someone who cares about his congregation a great deal and could help John understand what sincere is. Our Deacon(s) have a great love for God, and for the lay ministries, and could help John understand what God-reverencing is. And our Sunday school could help John understand that believers aren’t deluded, but some of the most faithful struggle, openly, with their faith, traditions, and convictions. I would like to introduce them to our resident Bishop and to two of our pearls to understand what a led lead in the fullness of God really looks like.
But these people will never get the credit that they deserve. Instead of them, people like Tony Perkins and Jerry Falwell are considered the Christian majority. People like Fred Phelps and Osama bin Laden are considered ‘religious believers’ and held as examples of such. And people like John will hide their hurt caused religion by equating all believers with the worst possible examples that they can find, instead of being honest and admitting that for the majority of believers, faith is an enriching and wonderful thing.