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Monday, August 5, 2013

Pope Francis: Respect Muslims, Respect Islam. Yes? Or No?

On July 10, 2013, Pope Francis issued his "Message of Pope Francis to Muslims Throughout the World for the End of Ramadan."

One excerpt from that message made international news. Pope Francis wrote, "We are called to respect the religion of the other, its teachings, its symbols, its values."

Pope Francis' letter is approximately seven hundred words long. The only portion of it most people will see is the sixteen-word excerpt that caused so much controversy.

Several of my Facebook friends insisted that Pope Francis is wrong. NO! They emphatically stated. We as Christians, we as Pagans, we as Jews, we as feminists, we as gay people, we as counter-jihadis, we as victims who remember 9-11, we do NOT respect Islam!

My friends are wrong.

We must respect Islam and Muslims if we are to have any positive impact on our world.

We must start from respect. Respect Muslims' god-fearing. Respect their desire to do the right thing. Respect their spiritual lives.

My friends answer back: Do you respect jihad? War on unbelievers? Clitoredectomy? Child marriage?

This is what I respect: I respect that human beings JUST LIKE ME want to do what they think God wants them to do JUST LIKE ME and they are operating with the best information they have JUST LIKE ME and if I want to stop jihad – which I do – if I want to stop child marriage – which I do – if I want to stop clitoredectomy – which I do – my best bet is to approach those with whom I disagree with respect for their best intentions.

No politically correct speech. No obfuscation. No weasel words. I am not afraid of saying that I think jihad is wrong.

I can say, "What you believe is wrong" and still respect the person to whom I am speaking.

Those of you who reject Pope Francis' words. Do you really think addressing people in a disrespectful way will get you anywhere? Will rescue one little girl from child marriage? Will talk the next Tamerlan Tsarnaev out of jihad? If you have any success by treating people with a lack of respect, please let me know. Really, I mean it.

Please read Pope Francis' entire Ramadan greeting here.

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