The headline for a front-page story in Sunday's Empire was: "Conservatives dispute Bush's rosy take on Muslim religion." The story was a report on the unhappiness of many conservatives, including some in the Bush White House, over the president's characterization of Islam as "based on peace, love and compassion."
I can't argue that the president was entirely correct in making such an assertion, but it is interesting that among those most outraged were right-wing Christian leaders such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, the two most militaristic clergypersons on the public scene. Both of these claimants to Christian leadership were quoted in the news story.
It is worrisome to me that these two individuals, and others like them, are most frequently trotted forward by the TV networks as spokesmen for Christianity. If any effort was made by the mainline news media to allow for the view of more responsible and less politicized Christian leaders, it would be learned that many of us who give allegiance to the Christian faith are not inclined to throw stones at other religions when it comes to the question of violence. We can hardly afford to do so when we consider the history of our religion.
One of the conservative Bush advisors considers it significant that Mohammed, the founder of Islam " ... was a warrior, not a peace advocate like Jesus." I think these right-wing critics of the president's efforts to emphasize peace with Islam might be more comfortable in the camp of a warrior like Mohammed than among those who genuinely try to follow the teachings of Jesus. All of these outraged critics of the president are warriors, or aspire to be warriors, virtually pawing the ground (at a safe distance) with the impatience to get on with the war against Iraq. Not one of them is a peace advocate.