More acrimonious perhaps than science-religion exchanges, inter-religious misunderstandings between extremists in religious groups seem to find explosive expressions in many regions of the world. A sad and sinister instance of this is the threat that the pastor of a small church is now making: to set fire to the holy book of a sister religion to vent his anger against the handful of fanatics who, in the name of their religion, perpetrated the horrific 9/11 atrocity nine years ago. The public outcry against this menacing sacrilege from a town in South Florida is the only hopeful indication that we have not really sunk into the depths of spiritual depravity in the giddying whirlpool of hate and counter-hate into which so many otherwise normal and decent people are drawn, unable or unwilling as they are to cope with the extraordinary complexities of our age. No matter what we read in the scriptures of the world, and no matter what the past might have been, there is no religion on earth today that would or should call for abominations of this kind: No leader, lay or religious, no matter what his or her constitutional rights may be, has the moral right or spiritual authority to engage in the heinous act of burning the sacred scripture of another religion. Rather, every one of us, irrespective of our personal grievance or anger towards another group, should make a resolve to reach out with a hand of love and friendship so as to heal the wounds and calm the passions that have arisen from the unhappy events now past for which we all share blame in varying measures.
In this spirit, let us call upon all our brothers and sisters of all faiths and traditions to join hands and pray together as children of the same source, whether we call that source God or Nature, for peace and harmony among the peoples and cultures of the world.
Peace, shalom, salaam, shaanti!
September 9, 2010