Sunday, April 4, 2010

An Easter message

Although there are many religious holidays throughout the year, I think most of us of various Christian beliefs celebrate Christmas and Easter with the greatest sense of joy. These are also the occasions on which many of us take a deeper look at our faith and spirituality and how it fits in with our overall belief system and guides our lives.

I was brought up to believe that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. Now, it's possible that I got that all wrong, but I interpreted it to mean that it should apply to all of our neighbors, no matter race, religion or anything else that might make them something other than a mirror image of ourselves. In other words, I grew up believing that we are all God's children.

Therefore I tend to react with dismay to some of the things people choose to do in the name of religion. Obviously the most horrendous of these acts are the suicide bombers who take hundreds of lives each year. But in recent days another act, conducted in the name of religion, has been publicized and left me with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

A small church in Kansas has apparently made it its mission to take its message of hatred toward homosexuals to the funerals of United States soldiers killed in action. In its own convoluted logic, the men and women who defend this country are, therefore, defending homosexuality. Therefore they see it as entirely within their rights to spew their vitriol at the funerals of servicemen.

Now I am a great believer in the Constitution of this country and an ardent supporter of the right to freedom of speech, but what kind of compassionate Christian can possibly find it acceptable to make a mockery of the solemn occasion of a funeral for someone who has sacrificed his or her life to defend our freedoms? Not only are their families grief-stricken by their loss, but now they're subjected to protests outside their churches or at their cemeteries. I know this has happened in the past with anti-war protesters. I didn't like it one bit better then. It breaks my heart just to think about it.

Add in the fact that the grieving father who sued the group over this outrageous behavior at his son's funeral first won a lawsuit against them, then lost in the next round in court and has now been ordered to pay the court costs of the protesters. Thankfully people from all over the country have been chipping in to help him out.

I understand that the right to freedom of speech is intended to protect even the most hate-filled among us and their messages, but it seems to me that common decency and a true Christian heart would dictate that there are some limits to this. To cross that line in the name of religion strikes me as even worse.

Just something to think about on one of the holiest days of the year. Happy Easter to all of you. May your hearts be filled with love and compassion toward one another.

Sherryl Woods

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