Interpreting Holy Books

Same topics, different views

By Tim Baldwin and Joe Carbonari

By Tim Baldwin

Many people will reject truth that comes from their enemy. This was seen when many conservatives harshly criticized President Barack Obama for noting, at the National Prayer Breakfast, the oppressive acts committed centuries ago under Christianity. Perhaps their criticism came because they refuse to acknowledge what distorts religion, including Christianity.

Many conservatives have turned the conflicts in the Middle East into a religious issue. They promote America’s fight against “ISIS” as a way to kill infidels. But Obama sees the terrorism as a distortion of religion. Obama’s view seems to be supported by the many Muslims who are fighting against ISIS and condemning their misapplication of the Koran.

Battling for correct interpretations of holy books is not unique to Islam. One of the quantum leaps for individual liberty made centuries ago in the West was when theologians and philosophers began using a scientific method to interpret the Bible. They argued, if your interpretation of the Bible promotes hurting innocent people or making slaves of people, it is necessarily wrong. This maxim helped create the “Age of Enlightenment,” which created government and political models on the rights of individuals, not on the elite, whether political or religious. Its influence exists today and likely will forever.

Simply put, no just God would command unjust things from people – whether to make killers of the innocent or slaves to tyrants. I say, amen to that.


By Joe Carbonari

To keep ourselves safe we must deal with Islamic terrorism. It is too dangerous. The Islamic State’s leadership must be demolished, rendered inoperative. There will be blood.

We cannot, however, destroy all their supporters and “camp followers” – nor should we. Call your god what you will, but don’t cause me harm because you were “told” to. If your god makes me lesser deserving of consideration in life than you, his follower, then I think you should think about your god a bit more deeply. “Do unto others …”

It appears the Islamic spiritual world has been slow to move out of the past. Yes, we in the Western World have had our Crusades, but we have moved on.

As Islam does its updating, military action alone will not solve our safety problem. It may take years, possibly decades. In the interim we also need to control our internal threats. There are some. Treating the Islamic community here in the U.S., and around the world, with the degree of respect they actually deserve will lead to more safety, more quickly, than if we don’t.

If you wish to bring someone to your way of thinking, you do not insult them. You suggest that together you look at your differences in a new light. The world is ever-changing. We must continually adapt, and we must help others to adapt. It’s a small world.

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