Defending religion


I attended the Bay de Noc drama Rabbit Hole last Thursday. The acting was excellent, the set well designed, the Besse Theatre was beautiful and comfortable. For the most part, a pleasant evening out.

There was an offensive issue, however. It was the disrespect toward Jesus in the verbiage of the actors, where at least three of the actors used the word “Jesus” to communicate contempt, disrespect, or anger. After the recent Easter celebrations where we pondered Jesus’ sacrifice for us, it was jarring to have his name so misrepresented by our beloved local young adults.

After the sensitivity training we Americans have received when violence has broken out following a cartoon or some other perceived “disrespect” toward Mohammed, would Bay have supported Mohammed’s name being used in this manner? I don’t think so. Why then is it OK to treat Jesus this way?

Even more offensive to me, however, is my own lack of objective feedback to the Bay community, clarifying my position. Sir Thomas Moore taught that silence tends to communicate agreement. How many of us Christians have communicated agreement with disrespect toward Jesus by neglecting to clarify the issues to ourselves and the offending other? Currently there are many opportunities.

For example, recently professor Poole, from Florida Atlantic University, ordered his students to write the word “Jesus” on a piece of paper, throw it to the floor, and stamp on it. Only one student refused. The exercise was in a manual accompanying the course text book and had been used for years with this class. So this profoundly disrespectful exercise had been used before without a public outcry. Think of all the college students who complied with this outrageous demand? Only one current student refused to comply? Scary!

Using, “Jesus,” “Buddha,” “Mohammed,” or other revered leaders of a religion in this manner is contrary to our freedom of religion. Have we become complacent and apathetic in our defense of religious liberty? Never a good idea, currently this posture is almost suicidal.

We need the God of our understanding to summon courage, strength and wisdom to look closely at the attacks to our way of life intruding daily. We need God to inform us how to defend religion effectively.

Let’s turn over a new page and demonstrate mutual respect of religion. Junior high through graduate college students and adults of all ages: Speak up when something occurs to violate that most precious of our rights.

If that foundation is allowed to erode, our standing as individuals and a nation becomes shaky, indeed.

Lynn P. Hansen