Bob Stannard: Whose god is better?

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Imagine there's no heaven

It's easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there's no countries

It isn't hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people living life in peace - John Lennon

We sure are lucky here in America that we have an ample supply of people who worship the Muslim faith; a faith very different from Christianity. Christianity consists of 2.4 billion, or 33 percent of all people, and is the world's largest religion. Islam consists of 1.8 billion people, or 24 percent of all people, and is the world's second largest religion.

So how do we all get along? We have a young Muslim lady, IIhan Omar, newly elected to Congress. She's under constant scrutiny and has received many death threats for expressing her opinions. The president appears to hate her and has used very disturbing footage from the attack on America on 9/11 to discredit her, a member of Congress. Did Rep. Omar have anything to do with the attack? No, her crime was that she's Muslim and has tried to defend her religion.

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Within a week of taking office, the president signed an executive order banning all Muslims from coming into America. That order was shot down in the courts, but it's not deterred him from continuing his efforts to keep people of this faith out of our country. His actions serve one purpose; to instill fear and hate towards those who may worship differently than the majority of Americans. God forbid that we show tolerance towards others when we can hate them instead. The president is using an entire religion as a scapegoat; something to fear and to hate.

In today's Huffington Post (yes I read that so-called "fake news/enemy of the people paper) there's an interesting story of a Muslim man who worked for the UnitedHealth Group in Manhattan. Here's the beginning of that story:

"A year ago at the UnitedHealth Group offices at 1 Penn Plaza in midtown Manhattan, Wali Omarkheil, a 43-year-old regional marketing director, gathered with five of his colleagues to meet their new supervisor, Josiane Peluso.

"But before Peluso even introduced herself to her new team, she complained to the group about the new strict security in the building.

'It's because of all the darn terrorists we have in this country,' she said as she made eye contact with Omarkheil. She didn't look at anyone else, he said. Suddenly, he felt the rest of the staff turn their heads and stare at him, too.

"Omarkheil brushed it off as a coincidence. `I remember thinking, `I hope she didn't mean what she said,' he told HuffPost. But it turns out she did mean it, according to Omarkheil. Within six months of their first meeting, Omarkheil, who had put in nearly 12 happy years at UnitedHealth, was out of a job. He was fired." Yes, he was fired for being Muslim and having the misfortune of having a supervisor who was very prejudice.

Most of us know very little about the Muslim faith. We know that there are radical Islamics who appear to be hellbent on doing us harm and thus we make the quantum leap that all Muslims must want to do us harm.

What I have found puzzling over the past years is why that phobia hasn't transferred over to Christians. After all, we have some pretty radical Christians in America. Charlottesville comes to mind. The Ku Klux Klan comes to mind; as does the Spanish Inquisition. It's safe to say that way more people have been killed over the centuries in the name of Christianity than in the name of Islam, yet it's Muslims our leader wants to ban. Perhaps it would be helpful to read what the Muslim faith is about.

"In a Muslim society, various social service activities are performed by the members of the community. As these activities are instructed by Islamic canonical texts, a Muslim's religious life is seen incomplete if not attended by service to humanity. In fact, In Islamic tradition, the idea of social welfare has been presented as one of its principal values. The 2:177 verse of the Quran is often cited to encapsulate the Islamic idea of social welfare. Similarly, duties to parents, neighbors, relatives, sick people, the old, and minorities have been defined in Islam. Respecting and obeying one's parents, and taking care of them especially in their old age have been made a religious obligation. A two-fold approach is generally prescribed with regard to duty to relatives: keeping good relations with them, and offering them financial help if necessary. Severing ties with them has been admonished. Regardless of a neighbor's religious identity, Islam teaches Muslims to treat neighboring people in the best possible manner and not to cause them any difficulty." - Wikipedia

Yes, there are radical Islam's who want to do us harm and there are homegrown Christian radicals who are no different. Maybe we'd be better off investing our time into learning who these people are and how they want to live their lives instead of fearing them because they are different; and allowing that fear to fester into hate.

Or better yet, maybe we should declare an end to all religions and just recognize that we're all people living on a planet trying to find a way to live together. Just live. No "my god is better than your god" stuff. Just live together.

Bob Stannard writes a regular column for the Banner.


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