Today's International Herald Tribune is running a piece from the New York Times entitled "Faith-hate on rise in U.K." According to the article,
The London bombing attacks in July and the identification of the main suspects as Muslim descendants of immigrants have sharpened Britain's long-simmering debate over its ethnic minorities even as the police report a startling surge in crime related to religious hatred.
Figures published by Scotland Yard on Tuesday showed a 600 percent increase in faith-hate crimes since the first attack on July 7 compared with the same period one year ago. At the same time there have been increasing complaints from young Asian men that they are being singled out for police searches.
I am certain that this will type of report will begin a regular avalanche of accusations against those of us in the Christian community saying: “See, religion leads to violence.” This is a common theme among the less adroit skeptics on the web who consistently believe that if it weren’t for religion in the world, the world would be a much better place. (I sometimes think that they think that wars would never take place if there were no religion.) Of course, in holding this position, they choose to look only at the negative side of religious belief, forgoing any recognition that religion has influenced society for the better.
I do not want to rehash the benefits the world has received as the result of the positive benefits of religion, nor am I going to use today’s blog entry to justify the fact that some evil has been done in the name of religion (including Christianity). That is old hat. What I want to point out about this article about the rising violence against Muslims is two fold.
First, before anyone in the Christian community accepts some sort of blame for this activity, I have not seen anything in the article that reflects that Christians are committing any of these acts. Note the information provided by the article:
In statistics released late on Tuesday, moreover, the London police said crimes motivated by religious hatred had increased to 269 incidents reported since July 7 compared with 40 in the same period one year ago.
"There is no doubt that incidents impacting on the Muslim community have increased," said the Scotland Yard assistant commissioner, Tarique Ghaffur. He said most of the incidents reported as motivated by religious hatred involved verbal abuse, physical attacks or damage to buildings, including mosques, such as smashed windows and graffiti sprays.
The increased violence is not by a religious community, but against a religious community. While it is certainly true that some extremists in that religious community are planting bombs which have killed and injured people, there is no showing (and it cannot be even reasonably inferred) that the entire Muslim community in Great Britain supports these attacks. Thus, while you could say that a very small, extremist faction in this community started the violence, a 600% increase in crimes against the more moderate elements in this community is a backlash that is unjustified.
But please, please note that nowhere in this article are any Christian groups being said to advocate this violence. This is not violence caused by Christians, but against Christian principles. This is violence by a crowd of angry people indiscriminately attacking the entire Muslim community for the crimes of a very, very few. Christ, who told us to “love our enemeies” would not advocate this and the church does not advocate this.
This is, in part, my second point. If there are any people who claim to be Christian who are engaging in this type of activity, I urge them to stop immediately. While Christians have disagreements with the religious faith of the Muslim community, and while Christians can hate and condemn the actions of the few militant extremists in the Muslim camp, there is no cause or justification for anyone in the Christian community to attack innocent people simply because of their ethnic background or religion. This is unchristian, and if there are any Christians engaging in this activity (and, once again, it needs to be pointed out that the articles says nothing to that effect), I call on them as a fellow Christian to stop this very unchristian behavior, now!