The religious threat in America is real. And the religious threat in America is alive and well. We have seen this threat in bombings, burnings, shootings, and in other forms of violence around religion in America. The destruction and death left in the violence of religious threat is devastating and heart wrenching.
The Religious Threat in America is Extremism
On April 13, 2014, two shootings occurred at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and Village Shalom, a Jewish retirement community, both located in Overland Park, Kansas of three people were killed in the shootings, two of whom were shot at the community center and one shot at the retirement community.
The gunman, a 73-year-old man from another region of the country, was arrested during the attack and was subsequently tried, convicted of murder and other crimes. He was a member of the neo-Nazi party and a Klansman. He was also a former political candidate. All three people killed were Catholic.
This attack on the Jewish Community Center was not an isolated incident. There have been bombings and shootings at Jewish synagogues across the United States. The most recent being the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburg. However, American anti-Semitism goes back to American beginnings. For decades, American Jews have faced social discrimination, acts of vandalism against sacred spaces, and, in recent years, more social media harassment has grown and the number of reported anti-Semitic incidents has grown since 2016.
Muslim Violence is a Religious Threat
Muslims who misuse the Koran to justify violence are no better than a Nazi who misuses the Bible and Christianity to kill Jews in a Jewish community center.
Muhammad himself warned Muslims about behaving in this manner. He said people of the Muslim faith would first forget the love upon which the faith was founded, then Muslims would begin to follow men following things other than Muhammad’s Islam. And finally, they would begin to follow evil ways.
There have been countless Jewish, Christian, and Muslim people killed because people of the Muslim faith failed to heed Muhammed’s warnings.
In reverse, there has been unprovoked violence against Mosques in the United States in peaceful neighborhoods and communities by extremists in the Christian faith. Moved by fear and motivated in part by reading parts of the Koran taken out of context.
Churches Burning are a Religious Threat
We have had three churches burned in Louisiana in 2019. All Christian churches and all with black parishioners. Does this mean we are experiencing violence against Christianity or against blacks in the South? The authorities suspect the latter. However, this is extremism, and this is a threat to religious freedom.
These three churches were not isolated incidents. In fact, more than one dozen churches burned this past year with predominately black members and all but one was ruled arson. Burnings of a house of worship where people are supposed to be able to worship freely is a religious threat.
Shootings in Church are a Religious Threat
In the case of the 21-year old who went into a Charleston, South Carolina church and then shot and killed nine black individuals without regard for age or walk of life. He just had a hatred for black people. Why choose a church for the killings?
The shooter in this case did not say why he chose a church. But people all over the United States are having the discussion of how to protect themselves during worship. This feeling of unease is a threat to our religious freedom in America, because at the very basic sense, we are not feeling safe during worship. This fact alone in and of itself is a religious threat to all of us.
Seek Some Common Threads
In the core values of every major religion it does say to love one another. Yes, the radicals and the outliers of each religion would have us to believe the “others” want to kill us all. And the extremists of each religion maybe do. This is a religious threat to our freedom. Remember that fact.
However, the majority in each religion want the same things most of us want. To live in peace, to raise our kids, and to be able to live a happy, healthy life. We might have more in common than we have different. Walter Isaacson once said, “I think different religions are different doors to the same house…”