The terrorist murders this week in Paris, France in the name of defending Islam and the Prophet Mohammed revealed individuals who actually have no faith as they used a Faith to exercise their own evil personal power through violence.
Actual trust in the truth of a faith does not have to kill in order to defend it. Functional atheism demands violent remedies to supposed offenses.
No room for Christians to make demands
It is even more inexcusable that so-called Christians are calling for Muslims everywhere to reign in this kind of activity when our own dark past far exceeds anything done so far in the name of Islam.
What the Crusades should have taught Christians everywhere is that true faith is not generated at the tip of a sword. And “defense” of one’s faith is best made by one’s own witness, not violence.
Certainly, the Roman Catholic Church, once at the center of the Crusades from 1096 to 1291, has learned this well. That particular part of the Christian Faith no longer justifies violence in the name of the Christianity.
Instead, now it is Christian faith expressions outside of the Roman Catholic or Orthodox expressions that flirt with the urge to crusade.
President George W. Bush used the term “crusade” when he spoke about why he thought we should invade Iraq.
Protestant pastors who hold much more closely to right-wing political ideology than they do to the whole Gospel of Christ actively promote a society of guns and constant warfare. End one war, and they are promoting the next.
A true, live faith understands that others are converted by winning over others, not coercing them. The spread of Islam throughout areas in the Middle East — previously the hotbeds of Christianity — was increased by the abuses of the Crusaders.
If you traced your ancestry back to a rape committed by a man wearing a large cross on his chest, would that not taint your view of the Christian Faith?
Leaders in Islam have condemned the terrorist acts that occurred in Paris this week. It is clear that Islam is going through a time of struggle within itself as to what expressions of faith are legitimate. Rather than condemning all Muslims, it is important to support those Muslims who stand against this evil done in the name of Islam.
Determined democracy in France
Today’s France, which grants so many rights to so many expressions both political and religious, is a direct outgrowth of the abuses of an earlier Christianity that fed thousands of people into the Crusades as their princes grew wealthier with the blessings of the Church.
France’s democratically elected socialist government is determined to make sure that all expressions from members of their society have the freedom to do so. Thus, the cartoonists of the publication Charlie Hebdo were allowed to exist alongside the Muslim extremists who have consistently hated that publication.
It is not surprising that American right-wing extremists have such a visceral hatred of France itself. It tolerates right-wing expressions without allowing those expressions to eliminate others.
No real faith in totalitarianism
Totalitarian ideology cannot tolerate a marketplace of ideas. Whether it be within Christianity, Islam, or any other faith or political expression, totalitarian thinking cannot tolerate their host country’s toleration of others who compete or disagree.
And that is the struggle in France and other democracies.
But for those of us who are still not atheists, and practice our faith, this should be quite clear: If you kill in the name of a faith, you have no real faith of your own. You believe that a gun or a knife are superior to the message of your faith, and so in your acts, you have denied that it has power.
Violence in the name of faith denies its true power.