I am convinced that extremism in the name of religion is the most destructive force in the world today. We have seen its negative, even deadly effects as waves of protest and violence have washed across the Middle East in recent days. We have grieved as a nation over the brutal deaths of our Ambassador to Libya and three other dedicated Americans serving their country. We have watched the burning of the American flag in the streets of Cairo and other places in the Middle East. Where has all of this come from? Though the causes are complex, there is no doubt that the appearance of a virulently anti- Islam film depicting the Prophet Mohammed in degrading ways has enraged great numbers of Muslims. The creators of the film were motivated by extreme disrespect for Islam and its followers; those followers have reacted in extreme outrage. So it has been and will be: religious hatred provokes religious hatred. Stereotyping and demonizing are then able to take the field in a game in which civilization ultimately loses.
Not long after 9/11, someone scribbled these chilling words on the wall of a building in downtown Washington D. C., "Dear God, save us from people who believe in you."
If I were to pen a prayer today, I would say, "Dear God, save us from people who believe that believing in you requires disrespect and condemnation of others who worship you in ways that are different from our ways."
I would pray, "Dear God, save us from giving in to hatred against those who have done injury to us, even of the most viscous kind."
I would pray, "Dear God, raise up among us humble Christians and moderate Muslims and righteous Jews and all sorts of other people, religious or not, who 'help people recognize and defeat those forces that destroy community and bring out the worst in human nature.'" (Isaiah Berlin)
You know the expression, "Don't let it get the best of you'?" May these challenging times not get the best of us and leave us with hardened hearts and resentful spirits, out of which nothing good can ever come.