We are headed once again into a drama in the Mideast in which religious conflict is playing a serious role. The tension between Shia and Sunni Muslims is part of the dynamic in play in Syria and the broader Mideast. The New York Times’ David Brooks does a good job explaining some of this tension in this column titled, “One Great Big War.”
Of course, twelve years ago this month, religious extremism played itself out in horrific ways in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. And we have seen outbursts of it here in the United States in other ways, whether in the form of Major Hasan in Fort Hood or the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston.
So, here’s my question:
Why aren’t we in the West and other parts of the world getting any better at handling religious conflict? Is it because we have not had to deal with this like we have had to face nationalistic or ethnic strife? Or are we getting better and it’s just hard to see?
AMY MARTIN, Director Emeritus of Earth Rhythms and Writer/editor Moonlady News Newsletter
This weekend I had lunch with a Bible church pastor and his wife, a Young Life couple who are evangelizing Christianity in Germany, an elderly Methodist, and a conservative homeschooling Anglican family. We never discussed their Bible or my lack of one. We talked about gardening, vacations, football and pets. We shared food and watched children play. You know, the important things in life.
It’s these countless acts of interfaith across the dining table that pundits rarely see. Vignettes like that and many others that I hear lead me to believe religious conflicts are abating. Violence over religion is sporadic at best in Australia, Canada or Europe, even in the heavily Catholic regions of Mexico, Central and South America. These Mid East conflicts are all about politics. Sunnis and Shiites do not fight over religious fine points. They fight over power.