Al-Qaida has finally caught up with the Missouri-Synod Lutherans.
Shortly after the murder of thousands of Americans on 9/11/01, the Rev. David Benke was suspended from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod for taking part in an interfaith service at Yankee Stadium for the families of the victims. Now, escaped al-Qaida commander Abu Yahia al-Libi is calling for the murder of Saudi King Abdullah for hosting an interfaith gathering of his own.
To be honest, I have to sympathize. These interfaith gatherings are too much. Every other week clergy people are holding interfaith meetings to assure one another that their respective faiths really don’t mean what they say.
Honestly, if I have to listen to another liberal clergyperson pretend that his or her take on his or her religion is really what that religion is about, I will scream. At least Abu Yahia al-Libi is honest: “equating Islam with other religions is a betrayal of Islam.”
The fact is equating Christianity or Judaism with other religions is a betrayal of those faiths as well. Each of these faiths knows they are the one and only true revelation from God. At least Abu Yahia al-Libi is honest. Of course calling for the murder of the King is a bit over the top, but you have to admire his enthusiasm.
The point of King Abdullah’s conference is to get religions to renounce extremism, but he has to hold the conference in Spain because most of the invitees wouldn’t be allowed into Saudi Arabia unless disguised as diplomats or oil workers. How does the King define extremism, anyway?
And what’s the point of having a religion that isn’t extreme? I’m an extremist. I think anyone who disagrees with me is wrong. I just don’t think it matters that they’re wrong, so I wouldn’t kill them or damn them to God’s private Abu Ghraib. But they're still wrong.
If we must have interfaith gatherings, let’s invite extremists only. At least they’re interesting. Most clergy at interfaith conferences are too polite— “While I suggest that the distinguished imam is wrong in believing that the Qur’an is the Word of God, and in fact follows a false prophet, peace be upon him, and will burn in hell for all eternity, I’m sure we can still find enough common ground to apply for a generous faith-based grant once Senator Obama is elected president.”
No! I say, “Bring on the extremists!” Let someone sponsor a real Battle of the Gods. Let’s hear how God chooses this one, and saves that one, and sticks the rest in a living Hieronymus Bosch hellscape.
We won’t do this, of course, because, if we did, most of us would be so horrified by what our respective religions teach that we would subscribe to Free Inquiry magazine, and spend our weekends at the natural history museum.
Of course I don’t want King Abdullah to die. And I wish we would catch Abu Yahia al-Libi and throw his ass back in jail (or, better yet, let him go hunting with Vice President Cheny), but please let’s not waste another dime on conferences that pretend to solve the problem that the attendees themselves are creating.