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LIBERTY: Rights & Tolerance | December 9, 2004



An E-Mail to a Family Friend

In Response to Her Concern Over a Boycott of 

US Postage Stamps Commemorating a Muslim Holiday

I understand the heartbreak and anger -- NO ONE wants to EXTERMINATE every last terrorist on Earth more than I do. NO ONE.

But it just is not right to condemn a billion Muslims -- mostly God-fearing, hard-working, charitable men, women, and children -- for the acts of bad Muslims (hotheads exploiting the fears of other, usually desperate people), any more than it would be right to condemn all Christians for the acts of bad Christians (and I am not going to make a list of our individual and collective sins -- as we recognized in Mass yesterday, only the Virgin Mary was born without the stain of original sin; and from Torquemada to Hitler and even in our own daily lives, each of us commits acts offensive to the Almighty).

Jesus made a point of saying, "Let he who is without fault cast the first stone" and "Love your enemies" (although I'm sure that Christ is blessing, not condemning, our armed forces destroying terrorist organizations before they can kill again). I cannot forget that Jesus Himself made a lot of enemies by reaching out in friendship to the despised people of his day, like the Samaritans and the Gentiles...He made a special point of letting us know that we are all God's children.

I wish all of us worshipped God in more the same way, although as a Catholic (which literally means "universal") I truly appreciate and enjoy the wonderful diversity of truly heartfelt ways in which people the world over praise our Lord and I'm sure God Himself is touched by those outpourings of love.

I have always been and will always be a Christian -- I am not a Muslim or a Jew, even though they worship the very same God the Father as I do. I try to tell people -- by word and, more importantly I've been taught, by example -- that the message of Christ (who IS "the Word made flesh") and of the Holy Spirit, which inspires and guides us, is true and good. But I realize that not everyone will come to believe the same as I do; and we've seen how in totalitarian countries how futile and wrong it is to try to enforce beliefs for or against one particular religion or another -- as we all know, America was founded by those seeking freedom from religious persecution, Christians and non-Christians alike (Ronald Reagan even added that America not only promises all citizens freedom OF religion but also freedom FROM religion, if they so choose; and we know that he was no atheist).

George Washington wrote a famous letter to the Jews, promising them protection in America, as long as they were good citizens...

"For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support."

(http://bnaibrith.org/programs/ea/letter_touro.cfm and elsewhere)

And finally, remember that on 9/11 the thousands of victims included -- indiscriminately -- people of all faiths and from all around the world. We should keep alive the spirit of LOVE that went around the world in those days, which, as Jesus promises, is far more powerful than the spirit of hatred.

As the Muslims themselves say, when confronted with injustice, in the end God will be the ultimate judge of us and our deeds. And as Jesus commanded, "Love God with your whole heart, mind, and soul. And love thy neighbor as thyself."

Personally, I'm only going to buy "Flag" and "Madonna" stamps; but if others want to buy "Star of David", Muslim, or any other stamps (which wouldn't have gotten printed by the U.S. Postal Service if President Bush had objected), and they are law-abiding citizens, then God bless 'em and let's not fight amongst ourselves -- we're ALL Americans and, as Benjamin Franklin said, "We must all hang together; or assuredly, we will all hang separately."  Only Osama Bin Laden wins if we divide and conquer ourselves.


(Forgive me if I didn't get all the quotes just right; I'm just working off the top of my (empty?) head)

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