Pick the Christian

August 22, 2003

[The Rev. Pat Mahoney and Ayesha Khan]So there’s the brouhaha over the monument to the Ten Commandments in the Alabama Judicial Building. CNN posted an interview with people from both sides.

First, without my identifying them for you, just looking at their pictures — can you guess which one is the Christian?

…That’s right, the angry-looking fellow on the left is the Christian. Now I don’t know him at all; this may simply be an unflattering photograph of him. That’s not the point. The important thing is that these are the pictures that were posted on the web site: an angry-looking white man vs. a noble-looking olive woman. Even their names are interesting: “The Rev. Pat Mahoney” and “Ayesha Khan”. They come from different worlds.

This is the current perception of Christians: White. Male. And angry.

My unsolicited (and unwelcome) advice to the staunch defenders of the faith in Alabama is: get over it. The post-Christian cultural shift may have happened sooner in California than in Alabama, but either way, it is inevitable. And you know what? It’s not all bad. The sooner you let go of “the way things ought to be”, the more you open the doors of the kingdom of God to all people.

As for Ms. Khan, well, I have my beef with you, too. I don’t mind you supporting separation of church and state. I definitely want our court system to be a place that Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, and atheists feel is theirs. But you say, The Ten Commandments are a holy document. They are a sacred document. They are personal. Woah, “personal” meaning what? Religion has no place in shared society?

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

5 responses to Pick the Christian

  1. Go figure…
    I feel the same way about your remarks toward the good Rev. The quicker we realize what’s going on and stop trying to legalize our faith, the quicker we can be about loving others and living the faith we try so hard to force on others.
    I’m getting tired of saying ‘we’ in these moments…but I believe I must continue to do so.

  2. Jon, thanks for your fresh perspective. I’ve been grieved about the 10 commandments being taken down because I do believe that by following them, we will have a better society. But I get your point about getting over it. It is a post-christian culture, but should throw up our hands? Where do you draw the line, and stand up and get into action? If that pastor wants to go for it, I say, go for it.
    As to what jeph says, is the ten commandments forcing something on people? I’m not sure.

  3. Well, I wasn’t saying the monument was a “force” of any kind. Mainly our attitude about our faith in some regions. I’m from that region…and I know it’s forced compared to where I live now.
    My question for those over there who are so distraught about the whole thing is: Why can’t a monument just be a monument?
    Could it be that we have another golden calf on our hands? I believe it’s very just to feel compelled to petition for the monument to stay, but not like this. It’s quite possible that more people are getting embarassed than glorified. And is it safe to leave the media in charge of discerning our intentions? Hmmm…
    It would be more just to be upset if they were replacing the monument with verses from the Satanic Bible.
    Someone has commented that the Christian outrage is fair and mimicks Christ’s actions when he fashioned a whip and ran through the temple in a fit. My question to that is, “how does Christ’s church compare to a secular body of concrete?”
    Christ came to clean house…his house. Our overlying message about this whole thing so far is that to be Christian is to follow a dictating Lord of Judgment who has decrees and settlements to align. Why must we judge nonbelievers so much? Is that what Christ did? For the record, the monument issue isn’t one of faith or is it simply a matter of religion. It’s a bunch of believers protesting against those who don’t have the same values…maybe. In any case, there are biblical precedents and instructions for handling issues like this in a Godly way and those instructions have been over-looked.
    In retrospect, I do believe that this is forcing something on others. Maybe not our way of life, but definitely forcing people to accept something that they evidently wish to decline acceptance. Why is that so bad? Is it our job to criticize the secular society? Or would our time be better spent showing society the kind of life that might encourage them to appreciate the values within the 10 commandments? In behaving like the good reverend, are we exemplifying love is all we do? Aren’t we told to do things in love? Aren’t we told that they will know who we are by our love? Isn’t love more important that “all of these”? Is the crowd at the courthouse communicating in love? If so, is that what society feels they are communicating? Hmmm…
    If we searched our hearts as christians, and really listened to what those on the outside on saying about us right now over this issue, we might gain a new and humble perspective.
    God is sovereign, God is just. The Father’s glory is what I want.
    Help me to succeed today, in loving others the Godly way.

  4. Helen, let’s say you belonged to a church in Indonesia. Your church was attacked by Muslim extremists: the building bombed, people hurt and killed. You identified the assailants and pressed charges against them. You, a Christian, and your assailants, Islamists, appear together in a court of law. And behind the judge, carved into the wall in large flowing Arabic script, are the words, “There is no God but Allah; Muhammed is the servant of Allah.”
    How would you feel? Would you have a fair trial?
    Now let’s say you are a young girl in high school. You and your family are practicing pagans. You are tired of being harassed in school — of being called a witch, a Satanist, being told you’re going to hell, having your locker trashed, being pushed down and cursed by people who identify themselves as Christians. You press charges against your assailants, and against your school for not doing anything to stop it. You, a pagan, and your assailants, Christians, go to the judicial building. In the lobby of the judicial building is a two-ton monument of the Ten Commandments — a tribute to a religion that is not yours, and to a god you find antithetical to your beliefs.
    How would you feel? Would you have a fair trial?

  5. I guess I sparked a serious discussion here. I love it. Jon, those are great examples. They challenge me. The ten commandments are no longer widely accepted in the US but I guess I need to get over it, somehow too. Why do I still feel stuck on wanting to support something I believe in? How do we live together with such divergent beliefs and back grounds?
    I tend to be pretty conservative. I like that Bush is a believer and so is Condi Rice. I don’t lilke everthing they do. But I trust them. I also feel like as christians we need to take a stand on moral issues. The ten commandments are not a moral issue, but I still think its ok for the good rev. to take a stand. I personally wouldn’t do it, but….
    I don’t think church and state will ever be separate. If the majority of the population is muslim, as a christian i may not get a fair trial, but it doesn’t matter if there is a plaque or not. Its the people. Is there ever a totally fair trial? I doubt it, this side of heaven. I wouldn’t need a palque about Allah to remind me that I am before a muslim judge.
    Regarding what jeph said, I am not from the south, so it is quite possible that this whole thing is about religion. I’m not into “religion”. I am also into LOVE. I haven’t noticed the rev. to get angry and belligerant, maybe you saw something I did not. But if he is not handling this with love, I do take issue with it as well.