Posted by: smstrouse | January 29, 2015

Jonah vs. American Sniper

UnknownI haven’t seen American Sniper. I’m not going to see American Sniper. I know there’s a lot of controversy an  d division between those who support the military without question and those who question American foreign policy which sends the military to war. Fine.

What bothers me is a news commentator who thinks (in response to the question “What would Jesus do?”) that “. . . Jesus would tell that God-fearing, red-blooded American sniper, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant for dispatching another Godless jihadist to the lake of fire.’”

I could dismiss this as just more ignorant twaddle from one of “those other kind of Christians.” But it really frosts me when someone makes such an egregious characterization of Jesus – and fans the flames of anti-Muslim ignorance and fear. Because too many people don’t make a distinction between al-Qaeda and Sunni Muslims, between ISIS and Shiite Muslims. They’re all just “ragheads.” And our God, like our nation, is bigger and better than everyone else’s.

I’m especially disturbed by this ongoing ignorance and fear-mongering because this Sunday begins World Interfaith Harmony Week. Every year since 2010 the first week of February has been designated by the UN as a week to showcase and celebrate the ongoing work of interreligious harmony and peacemaking (you can find out more about it at

And especially since I’ve been learning about Jonah this week. Most Christians know the story of Jonah and the (mistranslated) Whale. But I’ll bet most don’t know that Jonah is revered in Islam, as well as in Judaism and Christianity. In fact, the site of Jonah’s supposed tomb is in Mosul, Iraq – across the river from the ancient city of Nineveh, destination of the prophet Jonah.images

Last summer, ISIS blew up Jonah’s tomb, located in a Sunni mosque, this past summer because they condemn shrines erected by any religion. We should be in solidarity with our Muslim sisters and brothers who are under attack from religious extremists.

What could we do for World Interfaith Harmony Week that would further the vision of Jews, Christians and Muslims engaging in dialogue based on the two fundamental commandments at the heart of all three religions: Love of God and Love of Neighbor?

1. Get educated, if you’re not already.
2. Go to the World Interfaith Harmony Week web site and Facebook page for inspiration and ideas.
3. Seek out an interfaith council, if there is one in your area. Ask for ideas. Ask for introductions to people of other faiths.
4. Speak out against those who would characterize any religion by its most extreme members.
5. Have zero tolerance for ethnic, racial, gender, religious or any kind of slurs against anyone.

We can’t stop the ignorant from spewing their nonsense. But we’re also guilty if we don’t speak up. What would Jesus do? I don’t usually even try to answer that question. In this case, however, if I have to choose between “dispatching another Godless jihadist to the lake of fire” and “Love of God and Love of Neighbor,” I’m going with the latter. That’s the Jesus I know.


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