Today is Good Friday. On this day, Christians all over the world commemorate the crucifixion of our Savior, Jesus Christ and anticipate His resurrection. It is a solemn day and a good day to remember what a tenuous grasp we have on our right to Christianity. Today also marks the beginning of Passover, the Jewish celebration and commemoration of the Israelite’s exodus from Egypt and decades of slavery.
These holy days are following a couple of quite tumultuous weeks here in Indiana. The entire nation has been focused on the RFRA signed by Governor Pence last week, who, after the hue and cry, sent the signed legislation back to the customer service department for a refund rewrite.
I have no idea what the hell it says now.
But here’s what has happened in the meantime. In Kenya, 147 people were murdered by radical Islamists who stormed a university Thursday in Garissa near the Somali border. In the carefully planned and executed attack, the gunmen flung open doors asking if there were Christians inside. Those answering in the affirmative were shot on sight. An Al Qaeda-linked terror group Al-Shabaab has taken credit for the attack, depending upon what news outlet you watch. I’m sure that Hillary Clinton will want to blame it on a YouTube video.
On Wednesday, a South Bend television station reporter looking to make her nut on the backs of unsuspecting small business owners trolled through Elkhart county until she found a family-owned pizzeria to ambush: Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana, a small community with a large Mennonite population, was the target of this reporter’s particular zeal for fame. After thrusting her microphone in the face of the unsuspecting restaurant owner and asking if she would cater a gay wedding, the young lady replied that while everyone is welcome in their restaurant, catering a gay wedding reception did go against their Christian beliefs.
I submit to you that pizza at a gay couple’s wedding reception might also infringe on the gay couple’s beliefs, but that’s beside the point.
Jess Dooley, a teacher at a local high school—a TEACHER, for crying out loud—tweeted, “Who’s going with me to burn down Memories Pizza?” Guess all those diversity workshops that Jess attended as a teacher required her to be tolerant of people who share only her particular set of beliefs.
That, or she just started tweeting and doesn’t understand how social media works.
When I was teaching my eighth grade students about the Holocaust, I began the unit with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. That treaty stripped Germany of practically everything, and the result was that, starving and with their country in utter shambles, the German people were willing to listen to anyone who promised them an easy solution. So they listened to Hitler. And Hitler’s solution to Germany’s problems was simple: Eradicate the Jews.
As an aside, if anyone ever asks why the U.S. is involved in nation building, go back and read about the history of Germany following World War I.
The persecution of Jews in Europe didn’t begin and end with the concentration camps. It began with a more insidious cancer—suggestions, remarks, statements, and finally proclamations that painted the Jewish population in Europe as the festering sore that created all this turmoil. Kind of like how some people are beginning to paint Christianity.
Placing ourselves in tight little boxes, surrounded only by the people who share our beliefs, is a crummy way to live life. To wit: I have the most wonderful neighbors across the street from me. They are kind, generous, and helpful—the very embodiment of the word ‘neighbor’. The most curious thing about our friendship and mutual respect is that we do not share the same political beliefs, which in today’s world most often is the difference between a polite nod and a true friendship. Not so for us. Every time I talk with my neighbors, I learn something new, and our friendship grows that much stronger. No, I’m not going to suddenly become a supporter of the other side, but our friendship reinforces, for both of us, I’d like to think, the idea that we don’t all have to live in the same little box.
While it is true that we are commanded to love one another, it is also true that we are endowed with the right to choose for ourselves our core beliefs and live our lives accordingly. How we act upon those beliefs—whether we choose to love our neighbors or hate our neighbors—is our great challenge, but it makes all the difference.
Not only has history taught us this, so have current events, which are, unfortunately, serving to reinforce the fact that hatred is insidious.