This morning on the news, Harry Smith (CBS) interviewed a pastor from Gainesville, Florida. The pastor is planning to burn the Quran on September 11 as a protest against radical Islam. It is always hard to hear someone who claims the same faith as me be so disrespectful.
One of the guiding principals at DOOR is respect. We ask (demand) participants, staff and board members to be respectful. This is especially important when folks experience things outside their norm. In a multicultural world, different is a constant reality. Some of these differences can be amusing while others can challenge our sense of morality and our faith commitments.
It is not uncommon to see people stand in judgment of things that are different, especially when it comes to faith. When people worship different, pray different or believe different, it is our beliefs that end up being challenged. The instinctual reaction is to condemn. Reacting this way never leads to dialogue. More often than not, it leads to shouting, stereo-typing and some sort of “ism” such as sexism, racism, or classism.
Avoiding this pitfall requires an intentional decision to respect, something this pastor from Gainesville does not understand. When we respect, often a space opens up to talk about how and why we are different.
The Christian faith is first and foremost a faith of respect. It is a faith that actively looks for ways to move from animosity to friendship, from violence to peace, from strangers to friends, from acquaintances to family.