Faith Under Attack

For the second weekend in a row, we have to report an attack upon organized religion. Last week, we deplored the horrific bombings of Sri Lankan Catholic churches on Easter Sunday. This week, we have witnessed the all-too-famiiar scene of a lone crazed gunman shooting up a synagogue in California on the final day of Passover observances.

Anti-Semitism has shown its ugly head again. What more can be said other than we utterly condemn such attacks that seem to be becoming more frequent!

Obviously, the Judea-Christian tradition has been targeted in our secular world. Or are these incidents just the works of individual madmen choosing opportune targets?

The 24-hour news cycle has shone a light on these terrorist-type assaults. No sooner has the crime occurred than TV cameras arrive and begin full-time cable coverage – an endless discussion of who, what, where and when. It’s big business to the media outlets, but it’s numbing to the senses.

In Sri Lanka, it was announced that churches and church-run schools would be closed indefinitely as religious groups continue to be a target. In the United States, we are talking about armed guards outside and inside synagogues and other places of worship. Are we facing a future when religious services can only take place behind heavily fortified doors?

The secularization of society has eroded the sense of the sacred in our midst. Life is cheap. The seamless garment of life has been torn into pieces. How could we ever have anticipated taking the life of children as they are emerging from the womb of the mother? How could we ever have anticipated a discussion of how to assist people in taking their own lives when all else seems seems to fail? The rash of attacks upon churches and synagogues is another attack upon the sanctity of life.

Faith must become part of the national, indeed international, discussion. We have seen centuries of trying to find meaning in reason and science. They are fine and good but only faith in the Divine realizes the basis for declaring that all life is sacred.

Rather than watching religion become marginalized, can’t we find methods to encourage faith-based activities in our pluralistic surroundings. Freedom of religion must not be understood as freedom from religion but rather freedom to worship as one pleases.

Anti-Semitism cast a shadow on humanity in the 20th Century and we seem not to have learned the lesson. Now many seem to think that anti-Christian prejudice is the last permissible bias. We have seen where these terrible attitudes have led us. Isn’t it time we learn from the sins of the past and build a new future that is prejudice-free?

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