Terrible deeds and Christianity

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, April 30, 2007

In his April 19 My Turn, "Christianity Is Not Hate Filled," the Rev. Tom Matthews writes about what he sees are sad misrepresentations of Christianity. I would like to respectfully reply that these "misrepresentations" occur not in the pages of this newspaper but on the pages of history.

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I agree that Christianity should be about love; one need only read the Sermon on the Mount to get the barest glimpse of the beauty and truth that Christianity has offered the world. Unfortunately, for us all, it has also been the shield and sword of some of the cruelest cowards in the long sad history of our culture, starting with its earliest purges, continuing in the Crusades, the Inquisition, and culminating in the conquest of the Americas. One need not look far to find an example of the Bible used as a justification for torture, murder and ready cruelty.

Is this the fault of people who believe in the salvation the Bible offers? Certainly not. But people who espouse Christianity can no more turn a blind eye to the terrible things that have been done in its name than they can to the people who call themselves Christians and yet pursue torture, murder and cruelty to this day.

Secular humanism is not the enemy of Christianity. It's merely an effort to look at the world rationally, based on evidence. To doubt the various misuses the Christian religion has been subject to is not to hate Christ, but merely to be skeptical of efforts to use this religion for political gain.

Religion has been a valuable, if not an indispensable vehicle for morality since the dawn of civilization. But to credit one religion as the sole source of our system of justice is going a bit far. I believe the Vikings had a profound influence on our 12-member jury system, and as for the egalitarian nature of American society, I think a close look at the Iroquois Confederacy is in order.

What's wrong with "Thou shalt not kill?" It seems simple enough. How about the warning against judging each other? Is the Christian religion willing and able to adapt to a world of many cultures, or will it continue to allow itself to be used as a tool by people who have missed its moral message entirely?

Jamison Paul


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