Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Religious Discrimination

I wonder if much of religious discrimination isn't simply ignorance. There's an article about a Christian hospital chaplain that was fired for praying in the name of Jesus in a prayer for non-Christians. The hospital issued this statement:

"It would be very appropriate to say Jesus' name in the presence of a Christian family. That's no problem. What must be understood is knowing the audience and what is appropriate for that particular situation."

Where's the ignorance? Answer - anyone who prays earnestly realizes that his "audience" is God. To be consistent as a chaplain that adheres to a particular faith, the chaplain cannot offer a prayer to any God other than the one with whom he has a relationship.

This begs the question - do Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc. all believe in the same God? Some would argue yes - some, no. To be sure we do not believe the same things about God. To be further sure, not all Muslims believe precisely the same things about Allah, Christians do not all believe precisely the same things about God and Jews do not all believe precisely the same things about God. There are some things that one should be able to point to in general and say that Christians must all believe these things about God. The same with Muslims or Jews - or any other religion for that matter. The question is a little too simplistic for this reason.

The temptation , therefore, is to relativise our understanding of what we believe. In other words, we might wish to gloss over the complexity of the issue by personalizing belief. It's a false magic wand that stems from the motivation that we don't want to tick anyone off by trying to discover a truth that others might not want to believe.

The ignorance is one in which people like the hospital leadership cannot tolerate someone who actually believes that when they pray, God listens. It behooves such a one, therefore, to learn about a God who listens. Secular psychologists may tell us that the ooey-gooey feelings one gets from hearing a prayer offered to the God they know encourages the mind to cooperate with the healing of the body. Nevertheless, true ministers of God recognize that the One who created us is the One who can heal us. Ooey-gooey feelings built on anything but solid Truth will eventually fail.

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