We Americans are a divided lot these days. The problem: Too many of us seem eager to fight first and think later.
Take religion, a subject where you’d expect some thoughtfulness, even prayerfulness. Instead, the news is filled with war-like language over everything from same-sex marriage to Islam to persecution of Christians.
So let me ask you to cool your jets for a few minutes and ponder the following cases – some real, some hypothetical. Here goes:
- A bill was introduced this week in the North Carolina Senate that would allow magistrates and registers of deeds who object to marrying gay couples to recuse themselves for religious reasons. What do you think? How about, say, Catholic magistrates and registers of deeds who may object to marrying people who have been divorced?
- The mayor of Atlanta dismissed the city’s fire chief this month after he called homosexuality “vile” in a book he self-published and distributed to employees. What do you think? What if, say, the chief had written that Jews were bound for hell if they don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus?
- What would you think about a Muslim public school teacher who wore a hijab, or head scarf? How about a public school teacher who wore a necklace that prominently displayed a Christian cross?
- In a case involving Hobby Lobby, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that corporations with religious owners cannot be required to pay for insurance coverage for contraception. What do you think? What about a company whose owners had religious objections to, say, blood transfusions or even hospitalization?
- Duke University recently sparked an uproar when it planned – than canceled plans – to begin a weekly Muslim call to prayer from the campus’ Christian chapel. What do you think? What would you think if a mosque or synagogue refused worship space to a Christian student group?
- Saying employees are expected to abide by Catholic doctrine, Charlotte Catholic High School recently severed ties with a popular teacher after he used Facebook to announce plans to marry his male partner. What do you think? What if the high school had severed ties with a teacher because he and his wife practiced birth control – also a violation of church doctrine?
- Does the violence of abortion clinic bombers and the Ku Klux Klan color your view of all Christians? Does the violence committed by radical jihadis color your view of all Muslims?
- What do you think of cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad? How about cartoons making fun of Jesus?
My point: Us-vs.-them thinking often blinds us to the other side of an issue. If you want others to respect your identity – religious or otherwise – start by respecting theirs.
-- Tim Funk