Recently a prominent public figure chastised another prominent public figure by saying that they would “ hurt God and hurt a holy book . “ Initially I thought how preposterous, how can anyone hurt God or a divine writ ? Throughout history there have been may instances where religious ideologies have been used as weapons against others.
Hebrew Canon displays images of God in the form of a burning bush, a pillar of fire and as a strong gushing wind.
New Testament images can range from a waiting father welcoming his long lost child to a shepherd searching for the lost sheep, to a woman scouring her house in search of the lost coin, the precious treasure.
Through the ages there have been groups that have done battle with one another because they feared that their image, their conception of God would be trampled. During some of the early doctrinal church councils, one group of people would spill the blood of another group because they couldn’t agree as to whether Jesus was truly human or truly divine.
Phillip Jenkins in his book “ The Jesus Wars” describes activities of the Fourth Lateran Council ( November 1215 ) as “ the Council Of Thugs “ ( Jenkins 2013 ).
So, the whole process of using religion to attack someone else for personal and or professional, political gain is not new, it has been done for millennia.
Is it important to know if public figures, especially political leaders have religious tenets that they observe ? I would say yes, and its equally important to know if people don’t subscribe to any predetermined faith or that they may or may not follow a philosophical or moral mandate.
Religion, philosophy or no religious belief and other ideals and values, virtues can inform who we are as human beings and can provide influence on our behaviors and our actions.
Note that I said action here.
It’s really easy to criticize someone regarding their doctrine, it’s another thing to castigate someone who makes a sacrifice of themselves to others for charity.
Jesus said noticing the woman who gave her last coin at the temple
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” ( Mark 12: 41-44 )
This type of giving, sacrificial giving, can be a testament to itself.
When someone gives at this level, because they know it is the right thing to do, it’s hard to argue that it is a “ fake “ gesture.
Jesus again notes:
‘You will recognize them by their actions. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? ( Matthew 7:16 )
We should evaluate those who would want to lead us by what they have to say and by what they do and by their denigrating insults and attacks using religion as a weapon.
May it be so.