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Koran Burnings and Doing the Right Thing

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September 12, 2010|1:16 pm

In the midst of the circus around the proposed Koran burning, I’m concerned that a more important message may be lost.

Why did the World Evangelical Alliance, the largest global network of evangelicals, speak out so clearly against the proposed actions of Pastor Jones? We did it for two reasons.

The primary reason because it was simply the right thing to do. Pastor Jones and his tiny congregation simply do not reflect the values and beliefs of the Christian Church. This kind bigotry and uniformed ignorance has to be condemned.

Secondly, we also know from previous experiences, the potential for violence by radicals was almost a sure thing. For example, during the Danish Cartoon crisis, we know there were at least 150 people killed around the world and thousands injured.

During this debate about the burning of the Korans, we have heard about the need for reciprocity. If you can build mosques in America why can’t we build churches in Saudi Arabia? While there is an element of truth in this statement it should not be the primary reason we take action against the Joneses of this world.

The World Evangelical Alliance spoke out strongly because it was simply the right thing to do.

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But I do have some lingering questions.

There has been almost universal solidarity amongst religious leaders, politicians and the media in response to the proposed actions of some obscure, tiny Christian congregation. Are we willing to show this same kind of solidarity when other similar or in fact even more outrageous events occur?

For example:

In Orissa, India last year many churches were burnt to the ground by radical Hindus and 50,000 Christians had to flee for their lives.

Earlier in the year, a radical politician stood up in the Afghan parliament and declared they should follow Sharia law and execute people who by their own free will decide to give up the Muslim faith and become Christians.

What about the radical Jew who burned New Testament Scriptures in Israel last year?

Then there is Sri Lanka. Churches have been burned to the ground. Pastors have been assassinated. Radical Buddhist politicians have called for a new law that would significantly restrict the activities of local churches.

The list could go on and on. But I think you get the point.

How will the world respond to these kinds of scenarios? How will the media deal with them? What about politicians? Other faith leaders? Will they respond with the same kind of justifiable outrage as with the proposed burning of the Koran - not out of reciprocity or fear of repercussions but simply because it is the right thing to do?

Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe is International Director of the World Evangelical Alliance, a global network of churches in 128 countries and over 100 Christian organizations.
 

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