Friday, February 13, 2004

The Ann Coulter School of Religion

We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.
Ann Coulter

Remind all the Muslim killers that thou shall not kill. Make them good Christians and good people.
Benny Elon, Israeli Tourism Minister

Benny Elon has quite a friendship with conservative Christians. When he met with a Christian group in Jerusalem recently he said that "Muslim killers" should be converted to Christianity. I don't know how anyone can live in Jerusalem and be unaware that Christians also have a history of killing in the name of their religion. On July 15, 1099 Crusaders captured the city of Jerusalem and massacred the Jewish and Muslim inhabitants. Jews were burned alive in synagogues and Muslims were murdered in their mosques, all in the name of Jesus. Elon could certainly use a history lesson.

Christians tend to overlook this history by saying that it happened nearly 1,000 years ago. True enough, but it would not hurt us to be a little more introspective and a little less certain of our superiority. Every religion has been controlled by fanatics at some point in its history. Christianity is no exception and we don't have to go back to the 11th century to find examples of religiously inspired blood lust. The pilgrims gave thanks to God when they killed Indians. Catholics and Protestants took turns burning each other at the stake. Churches were used as KKK recruitment centers. Hitler came to power partly as the result of the agreement or silence of Germany's Christian clergy. The worst mass murders in Rwanda took place in churches where victims fled for sanctuary.

Suicide bombings and other acts of terror were far less common when President Clinton worked for Middle East peace agreeements. The Bush administration Middle East policy, such as it is, consists of giving Ariel Sharon carte blanche. Those Christians who are supportive of Israel should not be afraid to ask the Sharon and Bush governments hard questions about their policies. We don't need religious conversions to bring Middle East peace. We need to affirm that the security needs of Israelis and Palestinians are not mutually exclusive and that the real road map to peace will happen when the U.S. becomes an honest broker in the process.