January 9, 2015
What a week in Paris. The city became a battleground between free speech and religious fanaticism, modernity and jihadists. The Charlie Hebdo massacre, the Kosher supermarket hostages and shootings, and the deadly chases around the city illustrated once more the intensity of the clash between those two worlds. This January 7 irreversibly reframed the debate about tolerance and immigrants, and Islam in France and beyond.
The devastating events force religions to increase their efforts in securing the realm of God as a sphere of peace and reconciliation. Religion’s track record, including Christianity, has clearly not been impeccable on this level, on the contrary. But in our 21st century it should be clear that religion as source of terrorism, oppression, misogyny, aggression or intolerance has no reason to exist and exert its influence. Civil and especially religious authorities can no longer accept these versions of religion as legitimate. Pressing this point seems to require even more priority.
At home, let us join the faith communities around the world in prayer and call on God’s compassionate comfort for all who died due to religious terrorism, especially the Paris victims of the past few days. Let us pray that God’s grace may convert the hearts of these religious fanatics who justify barbarism in God’s name. And let us call for wisdom, so that faith remains the realm where people can connect with God’s peace.