Ray, 10-12-2014

My Word: Barbaric attitudes sow barbaric actions

robert ray(Orlando Sentinel, October 12, 2014)

By Robert J. Ray

Eye for an eye for ISIS breeds murderous attitudes.

I’m pretty laid back when it comes to religious disagreements. But something that began unfolding on Sept. 5 has revved me up.

Gary Cass, a Christian and former pastor, posted an article on the Charisma News website titled, “Why I Am Absolutely Islamaphobic.” Cass claims that the terrorist organization known as ISIS or ISIL — and infamous for its beheadings — is “doing to American journalists what every true follower of Mohammed wants to do to you and yours: subjugate or murder you.”

So Cass suggests three ways to deal with Muslims: 1. convert them to Christianity; 2. deport them (Deport All Muslims Now — D.A.M.N.); 3. violence (“… how many more dead bodies will have to pile up at home and abroad before we crush the vicious seed of Ishmael in Jesus’ name?”).

Of course, he gave even more advice: “First trust in God, then obtain a gun(s), learn to shoot, teach your kids the Christian doctrines of just war and self defense….”

Two days after posting Cass’ diatribe, Charisma News removed it without comment or apology. There has been no apology since — though many have loudly called for such.

Given that Charisma News is an arm of Charisma Media (formerly known as Strang Communications) in Lake Mary, this issue is close to home. Which makes the publisher’s failure to disclaim such extremism all the more perturbing to me.

When extremist Christian preacher Terry Jones threatened to burn Qurans in 2013, J. Lee Grady, contributing editor of “Charisma” magazine, wrote: “I’d like to go on the record to say this: Rev. Terry Jones does not speak for charismatic Christians, and his brand of fire-breathing judgmentalism doesn’t even remotely resemble the message of Jesus Christ.”

Agreed. And Cass’ fire-breathing call for violence against Muslims doesn’t even remotely resemble Christ’s message or the Christianity to which my Christian friends and I subscribe.

It’s true that ISIS/ISIL has brutally acted upon its distorted vision of religion, whereas Cass, aided and abetted by Charisma News, has merely displayed a murderous attitude.

But remember, barbaric attitudes are the seeds from which barbaric actions spring.

Robert J. Ray is a member of the executive committee of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida.