Respect is a two way process
Many years ago I did an MA in Religious Studies and at that point I learnt to respect some of the other great world religions. So, given Islamic sensitivities on the matter, I was not at all impressed when several years ago a Danish newspaper published cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.
In more recent days we have seen in the United States a Christian minister engaging in the burning of copies of the Koran, and more recently still the uploading to U-
I am at heart a pacifist, I detest violence and in no way would want to condone the excesses of some of the Islamic protestors however I believe that these actions by people claiming to be Christian raise serious questions for those of us who call ourselves Christian.
As a Christian I want others to respect my faith. I do not want to see Christ mocked or maligned by others, or for that matter the Bible treated with disrespect. And I am appalled by the disrespect sometimes shown to Christianity – incidentally not by those of other faiths – but by those of no faith who are members of our Western culture.
Recently I heard President Obama speaking about freedom as a key western value – that may be so but I was disappointed that he did not go on to state that with freedom comes responsibility – responsibility to use freedom wisely. In the west it is clear to me that some have lost that part of the equation. Freedom divorced from responsibility and respect is not the kind of freedom I want or value. As a Christian I value it when people use their freedom wisely, responsibly. I value it when people respect that which is precious to me. As Christians my hunch is that we all want our faith to be respected.
By the same token, I am ashamed when others, claiming to be Christian, fail to show respect for that which is precious to those who are of a different faith. I am not arguing here that all faiths are of equal value, that is a different issue. I do not agree with those who suggest that all faiths should be tipped into the one religious pot and somehow blended together. What I am arguing is that we as Christians should begin from the point of respect when dealing with other faiths, that we as Christians should be to the fore amongst those who seek to understand why the beliefs held by others are precious to them as ours are to us.
We cannot expect others who are not of our faith to show respect to our faith if we in turn are disrespectful of their faith.
Did not Jesus say: “Do unto others what you would have others do unto you”.
© Norman E Brookes October 2012
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